True Magic [First Version] Image

Mixed or average reviews - based on 9 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 15 Ratings

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  • Summary: Kanye West and Pharrell Williams are among the producers for the rapper's follow-up to 2004's 'The New Danger.' This version of the album is no longer officially available for sale; a second version with new artwork and a new tracklisting will be released in the spring of 2007.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 9
  2. Negative: 4 out of 9
  1. A Wu-Tangy darkness permeates the whole album, which is cluttered with gems both musical (live sax and jazz flute) and lyrical.
  2. The beautiful mess of Mos Def makes for a bumpy listen.
  3. Mos Def’s third album is worth a careful listen: it’s not a happy record, and there are few, if any, genius rhymes. But it speaks volumes about the frustration and resignation of the underprivileged.
  4. Everything about this album is half-assed: From the bafflingly bare packaging to the at-times miserable mix, True Magic is a mess.
  5. Mos Def may not be flossy or raw at this stage in his celebrated career, which is fine. But what he offers instead is lukewarm nostalgia and obligatory indignation. [8 Jan 2007]
  6. Quite possibly the worst record by a great emcee in recent memory.
  7. Like its predecessor, the equally undercooked "The New Danger," there is a sense that a deadline crawled up before the music was cemented. [13 Jan 2007]

See all 9 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 10
  2. Negative: 1 out of 10
  1. Dec 30, 2012
    I listened to this album in 2012 before reading any reviews. I was just getting to know mos def and I really liked it. I think there are definitely a few classics on this one, definitely a lot better than new danger, which I didn't really like. Expand
  2. Apr 19, 2012
    I can't remember the last time I was so confused by an album. I'm a huge Mos Def fan, and I didn't hear a word about this album until I stumbled on it at Target when it first came out. No cover art, no promotion, nothing. This album feels somewhat like a mixtape because of this, but if anything this is more of a low budget album. Something you would expect from an up and coming rapper selling this album from the trunk of his car. It's a pretty weird angle for Mos to take, considering how successful he already was. I have to admit I admire Mos' approach to this album. The production could be called "low quality", but that's exactly what Mos wanted. Most of the album is produced by Preservation and Minnesota; the latter produced a few tracks on The New Danger. The Neptunes do produce one track, "Murder of a Teenage Life", but nothing about that song sounds likes a Neptunes production. There are also two tracks that Mos Def "covers", and both are solid tracks. "Crime and Medicine" uses the same beat from the title track of GZA's "Liquid Swords", and it's a perfect choice that fits right in with the grainy underground sound of the album. The other is "Dollar Day" which is a much more surprising selection. DJ Khalil produced the original track, "The Ca-China Clap", but Mos Def turns it into the Katrina Clap, and is a political attack at George W. Bush and the government for their handling of Hurricane Katrina. The best tracks on this album aren't the "covers" though. "Undeniable" is a great track, with a simple message, spread love, and is a great starting point to the album. "Thug is a Drug" is the closest thing this album has to a "banger", as the beat from Minnesota hits harder than any other track. He also produces "U R the One" which is one of the most brutally honest, touching, and depressing confessions of being completely heartbroken after a failed relationship. Even Mos claims at the begininning of the song, "I know more than a few gonna relate". He couldn't be more right. The 2nd half of the album is mostly produced by Preservation. "Sun, Moon, Stars" is without question the best of the Preservation tracks, if not the best song on the album. The beat reminds me of something Madlib would make. It kicks off with a bass that lays down the underlying tone, and eventually brings in a saxophone and even a jazz flute. It's a bold track, and Mos finds his away around it perfectly. I'll admit, that this album is Mos' least memorable, but I still have a soft spot for it. Some of the songs take a little while to grow on you, but once they do it becomes easy to really appreciate this album. Mos didn't want to make a "classic", and this album clearly isn't. It's merely a simple album that Mos made, almost as if it were for himself, and we are simply listening in. Even when Mos is in cruise control, he is still damn impressive on the mic. All in all, this is a solid album, although it's only for fans of Mos Def. Expand

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