The Ecstatic - Mos Def

Universal acclaim - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. He comes up with a mind-bending, low-key triumph, the kind of magnetic album that takes around a dozen spins to completely unpack.
  2. 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.
  3. Looks like we finally got the Mos Def we were waiting for.
  4. 80
    Mos Def can still create the year's finest hip hop album. [Sep 2009, p.88]
  5. 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]
  6. 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.
  7. It's taken a decade, but Def has finally produced a worthy follow-up to his beloved solo debut.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 80
    The Ecstatic is easily his finest full-length since "Black on Both Sides," his 1999 solo debut.
  11. 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.
  12. Though his vigor falters toward the end, The Ecstatic remains by far his strongest, most deeply felt work in ages.
  13. 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.
  14. He rivets his limber flow to the beat and effortlessly produces the kind of good-natured braggadocio and gymnastic wordplay of his glory days.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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."
  25. 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.
  26. May 19, 2011
    His fourth solo release, The Ecstatic (Downtown), reaffirms why hip-hop aficionados cared about him in the first place.
  27. 80
    It's a typically eccentric tour de force from Mos Def. But this time, he recruits producers capable of keeping pace with him.
  28. 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.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 50 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 17
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 17
  3. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Dec 10, 2013
    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 Bite Hard' as the fast paste and smooth beats took me away. Thank you for this. Thumbs up! Full Review »
  2. Mar 31, 2013
    this album is unbelievable. it shows how an album is supposed to be made. starting off stronge, and ending at its strongest. casa bey is easily the best song on the album. and the guests are also fantastic. everyone should listen Full Review »
  3. Apr 17, 2012
    This album deserves a 12 out of 10 if I were basing my score on the relativity to other rap albums over the past 5 years. It's been a long time since I've heard an album of this caliber, and I still can't think of a better rap album to come out since this album was released nearly 3 years ago. I still listen to this album regularly. Mos Def has always been a very talented rapper, and the strength of his albums has always been his lyrics. However, the production on this album is without question the best production since Black on Both Sides. The opening track "Supermagic" hits like a hammer. Mos samples guitars (and the chorus) from an old Turkish song, and the rest of the album follows the theme of using Middle Eastern instruments throughout this album. Most of the tracks have Middle Eastern influences regardless of who produces the track. Madlib produces 4 of the tracks on this album (Wahid, Pretty Dancer, Revelations, and the Slick Rick assisted Auditorium), and it's no surprise that these are 4 of the best tracks on the album. The greatness of Mos isn't limited to the Madlib tracks though. Mr. Flash produces "Worker's Comp" which is the perfect song for the times we are in. Mos simply raps about the high unemployment rate and the day to day munadane life of working a 9-5, living paycheck to paycheck to keep the lights on. The whole album is very down to earth, but uplifting at the same time. Mos has always been one of the most humble and honest rappers there is, and that makes this album very easy to relate to. More rap needs to be like this. "Priority" is one of the most spiritual songs on the album, as Mos outlines what our priorities should be in life. It's a very powerful song, partly because of the message, but also because of Mos' delivery. "Peace before everything/god before anything/love before anything/real before everything/home before anyplace". Simple maybe, but effective. Nothing is simple about the wordplay he follows that up with though. "Style and state radiate/love power slay the hate/truth killer flakey face/players say it to their face/ain't afraid to major straight/grace at the table straight/flow greatest like the greatest lakes/capes all greatest states/quiet water major waves". Damn. If anybody needed a reminder the Mos Def is one of the best lyricists of all time in hip-hop, this song (and album in general) is it. One thing I love about Mos is that he isn't concerned with being "the best rapper alive" or any of the other trivial titles that all other rappers are concerned with. Mos isn't afraid to take risks (as he proved on The New Danger) whether they pay off or not. One example of this working is on "No Hay Nada Mas". Mos speaks in Spanish for the entire song, and the tracks sounds much more like a love song that a rap song. It's amazing that over time I've grown to really like this song, even if I don't understand a damn thing. However, he does misfire on "Roses" which is easily the albums lowest point. It's a shame, because the entire album is good with the exception of this song, and it happens to be towards the very end of the album. Thankfully, this track is followed by "History" with reunites Mos with Kweli for a BlackStar reunion. Kweli and Slick Rick are the only two featured artists on the album (aside from Georgia Ann Muldrowe on Roses). In the end, this is Mos' best album since Black On Both Sides. It's his most pure "album" in my opinion, and I can't state how much I love the Middle Eastern influences that are present for the entire album. Full Review »