The Ecstatic

  • Record Label: Downtown
  • Release Date: Jun 9, 2009
Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. Half associative rhymes that clock in under two-and-a-half minutes, devoid of hooks but full of sounds you want to hear again, it's like a dream mixtape.
  2. It's always great to see one of our better artists achieving a return to form, but it's usually successful with leveled results. But on The Ecstatic, Mos Def is certainly back and he has released the best hip-hop album of the year, so far.
  3. May 19, 2011
    88
    His fourth solo release, The Ecstatic (Downtown), reaffirms why hip-hop aficionados cared about him in the first place.
  4. Though his vigor falters toward the end, The Ecstatic remains by far his strongest, most deeply felt work in ages.
  5. It's taken a decade, but Def has finally produced a worthy follow-up to his beloved solo debut.
  6. He comes up with a mind-bending, low-key triumph, the kind of magnetic album that takes around a dozen spins to completely unpack.
  7. 80
    The Ecstatic is easily his finest full-length since "Black on Both Sides," his 1999 solo debut.
  8. The Ecstatic feels like the album Mos has always wanted and intended to make. It's experimental and progressive without being too left-field and isolating.
  9. Looks like we finally got the Mos Def we were waiting for.
  10. The Ecstatic is solid from front to back, but it's not always entirely cohesive. The production is uniquely executed, with the beats often focusing more on sample placement than drums and bass, but it's this lack of a low-end that sometimes makes your head nod in backwards directions.
  11. 80
    It's a typically eccentric tour de force from Mos Def. But this time, he recruits producers capable of keeping pace with him.
  12. The Ecstatic begins with the Middle Eastern/rock-music-influenced Supermagic and doesn't let up on the sound clashes until the very end. Production by Madlib, Oh No, J Dilla, and Mr. Flash (yes, the Ed Banger Records Mr. Flash) keeps The Ecstatic's instrumental canvas as multi-textured and eclectic as they come.
  13. It offers a thrillingly accessible demonstration of hip-hop's limitless creative possibilities to those whose experience of the medium stretches no farther than the occasional random episode of "Run's House."
  14. The feeling that Mos has not really moved on since his heyday (he has spent much of the past decade in Hollywood) is palpable. Such is the prevailing quality of the production, however - nowhere more apparent than in the Middle Eastern flavours laid on by Madlib - that it doesn't really seem to matter.
  15. Outspoken and even prone to some fairly loony conspiracy theorising, The Ecstatic thankfully does not become such a platform, and is a refined selection of strong tracks, which skilfully tread the balance between tight beats and forthright exclamations.
  16. Mojo
    80
    This is an album that demands careful attention before its meanings and musing reveal themselves, blending apocalyptic visions with occluded celebration. [Sep 2009, p.91]
  17. Uncut
    80
    Mos Def can still create the year's finest hip hop album. [Sep 2009, p.88]
  18. The Ecstatic flags in spots and the album's tricky samples take a while to absorb. But the 16-song collection offers proof that Mos Def can still be invigorated from a tight beat as much as a tightly written script.
  19. He may no longer be the novelistic observer of Black on Both Sides or the fearless explorer of The New Danger, or even the wised-up star of True Magic, but The Ecstatic is still imbued with all that and not making a big deal out of it, perhaps the first truly mature thing Mos Def has ever admitted.
  20. He rivets his limber flow to the beat and effortlessly produces the kind of good-natured braggadocio and gymnastic wordplay of his glory days.
  21. The fleet-tongued 'Casa Bey' shows what Mos can do when he's focused, and it makes you wish he put together a whole record of songs as dynamic. But the album is also littered with tracks that sound like fragments in search of completion.
  22. With leftfield collaborations with Slick Rick on one side and the reedy-feely Georgia Anne Muldrow on the other, The Ecstatic isn't the concentrated wonder that is "Black on Both Sides," but it's a refreshing bounce back from the precipice of the Land of Sellout.
  23. The back half is all over the place, prone to the sort of detours that seem designed solely to show off Mos' scope, like the all-Spanish throwaway 'No Hay Nada Mas.' Still, when's he's on, which is more than not, Mos is refocused and seemingly rededicated.
  24. It's a surprise and a pleasure to report that much of The Ecstatic is--whisper it--simply good, honest hardcore hip-hop given a twist by MD's slurred, inebriated delivery and use of odd imagery.
  25. Around the world in 60 minutes, then, Mos embraces both the jet-setting film star lifestyle and a re-found love for the game, making for the Deffest jam since that label gave Jay-Z the keys.
  26. This feels indulgent without MD being committed to any of his whims, and that exposes Mos Def as an artist that no longer seems to know what he wants to do.
  27. With shadowy beats from Madlib and the late J Dilla, plus dense rhymes about Darwin and a rough Brooklyn upbringing, Mos Def's fourth solo album is both mildly strange and a clear step up from his dismally undercooked 2007 record, True Magic.
  28. The songs are brief and direct, the best of them hit hard and make a real impression, and the worst breeze by innocuously, instead of lingering like Mos' painful past failures.
User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 61 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 18
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 18
  3. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. MikeW.
    Jun 10, 2009
    10
    Great uplifting album that serves as a reminder of how blessed we really are to be alive (even in these difficult times)! I am so happy that Great uplifting album that serves as a reminder of how blessed we really are to be alive (even in these difficult times)! I am so happy that we got Mos from Black on Both Sides back! Although there is some pretty tough subject matter, Mos always maintains that hopeful tone throughout the album and reminds us: "Don't Worry we are forgiven"! The Ecstatic is just pure bliss coming from a very talented sublime rapper! Full Review »
  2. May 8, 2015
    10
    Without any doubt his best LP since his 1999 Black on both sides. The album is lyrically perfect, Mos Def stands as one of the last great rapWithout any doubt his best LP since his 1999 Black on both sides. The album is lyrically perfect, Mos Def stands as one of the last great rap poets still alive, rough, emotional and joyful themes are on the album as you'd expect from him. The beats are very good, more like his old school albums and the guests are awesome, Slick Rick's appearance is a great surprise and welcomed nostalgia element. Auditorium is definitely the best song on the album. Full Review »
  3. May 15, 2014
    9
    This album was like a 'Welcome Back' party for Mos Def. He nailed it with his wide variety of beats. I can't stop singing 'Quiet Dog BiteThis album was like a 'Welcome Back' party for Mos Def. He nailed it with his wide variety of beats. I can't stop singing 'Quiet Dog Bite Hard' and 'Casa Bey' as the fast pace and smooth beats took me away. Thank you for this. Thumbs up! Full Review »