Release Date: Oct 12, 2004
Record label: Geffen
Mos Def :: The New DangerLabel: Geffen RecordsAuthor: Steve 'Flash' JuonIn the early part of the 20th century (a period loosely defined as coming after World War I and continuing through the 1930's) African-American arts experienced a boom period which came to be called the Harlem Renaissance. Harlem was the area which was chiefly home to the eclectic mix of artists, poets, musicians and writers who brought not only greater recognition to the cultural voice of the disenfranchised in the United States but to the cultural influence which had been silently shaping all aspects of the American mainstream to date. This cultural explosion also brought in to sharp focus the natural distrust of said artists for their white admirerers; happy to profit from the "hipsters" who came to Harlem to dig the vibe but fearful of their intention to exploit these arts or try to claim them as their own.
When it takes you five years to follow up a debut of near-landmark stature, you're setting yourself up for failure. Mos Def's second solo album is not disastrous, but it's a sprawling, overambitious mess. A handful of songs from this 75-minute affair feature Black Jack Johnson, the rock band Mos set up with some very respected musicians: bassist Doug Wimbish (Sugar Hill house band, Living Colour), drummer Will Calhoun (Living Colour), guitarist Dr.
I’m not exactly sure what “the new danger” is, but I do know of the dangers of The New Danger, Brooklyn wunderkind Mos Def’s first album since 1999’s excellent Black On Both Sides. There’s the danger of recycling material from one stalled project (Geffen didn’t want to release a record from Black Jack Johnson, Mos Def’s rap-rock band), the danger of simplifying a rap style to attempt to reach more, the danger of losing career momentum by staying away from the mic too long, or even that most classic danger of the sophomore album: loss of true hunger. Regardless of what the root causes are, the results are 18 undisciplined songs clocking in at a ridiculous 75 minutes, a messy, disappointing record that would be a miss from any artist, but from an artist of Mos Def’s talents, it’s a minor disaster.