As one of modern Hip-Hop’s most consistent and appealing artists, this much-anticipated long player arrived with a considerable dollop of expectation. After 1998’s Black On Both Sides’ success fans were probably hungry for more funk- and soul-laced tightness: this, however, takes an entirely different thread of the beats-and-rhymes formula and cooks up something a little more experimental.
From the off the album fuses stripped down drums with aggressive rock stabs and wailing electric guitars – most notably on ‘Ghetto Rock’ and ‘Zimzallabim.’ After the exhilarating though perplexing first third the Rock and Blues influence stands down to allow for typically high-calibre rapping over some often uninspiring yet quality beats; ‘Sex, Love And Money’ a club-orientated track with some big, sparing kick drums a la Neptunes.
As in his debut album political consciousness is prevalent – ‘War’ being an obvious response to the current political climate. In a continuation of the near-psychedelic soul-soaked moments of Black On Both Sides, ‘Modern Marvel’ spends nine-plus minutes weaving a Marvin Gaye ‘What’s Going On’ sample around Mos Def’s hauntingly sentimental singing, to hypnotic effect.
As a step into new musical styles whilst maintaining an edgy, self-aware shade of Hip-Hop, The New Danger certainly succeeds. Whether or not it is immediately appealing to existing fans or newcomers is questionable, though that clearly is not its intention – it is, refreshingly, a far cry from much of the stale music emerging from the ‘R’n’B’ tinged quarters and succeeds in elevating Mos Def into an increasingly influential position within Hip-Hop.
(Released October 2004)