Danger, Will Robinson, danger

By By Matthew Piper

By Matthew Piper

The New DangerGeffen Records3 out of 5 starsMatthew PiperStaff WriterThe five-year interim betweenrecords should have hinted thatsomething was hindering MosDef’s progress, and apparentlyhere’s what it was: Mos Def wantsto advance hip-hop through openmindedgenre collaborations, andhe wasn’t going to release an albumuntil he could achieve somethingun peu de plus.The New Danger, Mos Def’slong-awaited new album, is notonly not quite hip-hop, but it’s alsonot quite anything else, either-therecord is infused with equal dosesof R&B, Motown soul and alternativerock.The New Danger gets off theground with its first worthwhiletrack, “Ghetto Rock,” after fiveminutes of mostly useless drivel.Mos Def meshes with producerMinnesota excellently throughoutthe album on each of his six beats.”Zimzallabim” marks the first fullonFred Durst impression of thealbum, and almostgoes so far as tochallenge MosDef’s credibilityas a hip-hop artist.Sounds harsh, buttrust me, it doesn’tsuit him.After two interlude-ish bluesyrock-and-soul riffs,”Sex, Love, andMoney” signals thereturn of the old BK-emcee thatmany fans were anxiously waitingto hear from again. He spits,”I’m ’bout to double the dosagein half the time, the master physicalmastermind” over hi-hats andflutes (flutes!)-rather brilliantly.In “Sunshine,” he teams with Roca-Fella newcomer Kanye West foranother standout: “But dawg, notto Def? I’m not impressed, I’m notamused, I’m not confused, I’m not”the dude,” I’m a grown man menace,I am not in school.”If you’re a longtime fan, you’resure to like this one-it’s quintessentialMos Def.Sadly, the quintessential hiphopMos Def doesn’t stick aroundlong. In “The Panties,” he croonsprofound lyrics like, “Don’t wannabe/ Nowhere but here/ Nowherein this atmosphere,Stratosphere, Ionosphere/Ain’tno sphere, that’sbright like here,”but the quality ofMos Def’s lyricalpoetry doesn’tmake up for hisbrutally over-embellishedserenading,which gets uncomfortable,to saythe least.Smooth as a jackhammer, thealbum abruptly transitions to anotherrock track with “Black JackJohnson.” Trying to infuse moreenergy into rap isn’t always necessarilythe best idea-it’s very possiblethat most hip-hop audienceswill refuse to accept the patentlyepisodic nature of Mos Def’s concept.Sigh.Put bluntly, Def definitely stillflows, but the album doesn’t.”Modern Marvel” includes a brilliant3-minute tribute to MarvinGaye, in which Def throws togetherall the old ingredients and managesto impress with his typical intellectualprowess. Regrettably, thesong is two parts intro, eight partstrack, making for a nine-minutesong. Very soulful, sure, but unlessyou have a lot of time on yourhands, it’s unlikely you’ll listen tothis one as often.The album-closer, “ChampionRequiem,” is a strong finishingtrack, before which Def proclaims,”If you see and hear goodness inme, then that goodness is from theCreator, and you should be thankfulto the creator; If you see weaknessand shortcoming in me, it’sfrom my own weakness and shortcoming,and I’m sorry for that.”He is totally confident and committedin his digressions. Mos Def,to his credit, has served his conceptualizationwell, but the consequenceof his diligence can be aseriously jarring album experiencefor listeners, constantly flippinggenres and tempos.Ultimately, Mos Def should becommended for his attempt to revivewhat many feel has become astale and stagnant hip-hop industry,but his attempt will likely fallshort of being a success for eventhe most devout of listeners. Thereis no doubting his considerable talent,but you can’t help but feel thatmusically, Mos Def is not just on adifferent page right now, he’s in awhole different [email protected]