True Magic [First Version]

  • Record Label: Geffen
  • Release Date: Dec 29, 2006
User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 17 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 17
  2. Negative: 2 out of 17

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  1. Dec 30, 2012
    9
    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.
  2. Apr 19, 2012
    7
    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 rapperI 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
  3. Ed
    Apr 20, 2007
    8
    It's alternative, so not for everyone's taste. But if it's your taste (as it is mine) then it's top notch. It's refreshing to hear stuff like this alongside the more homogenous mainstream stuff. Plus I do like a retro nod.
  4. mariop
    Feb 20, 2007
    7
    I must agree with Daniston M. The tracks are killa, they way live instruments are used is enchanting. I was expecting more lyrical content. Hopefully his next album will not disappoint any.
  5. andrew
    Feb 20, 2007
    8
    I really don't get all the bad press. This album is much better than the disappointing New Danger. Not as good as Black on Both Sides, but still solid. I don't get all the hate. Had this since December and I've been rocking it on the regular ever since. Sure, the beats are minimalist, but that's fine with me. The New Danger was way overproduced anyways.
  6. TM
    Jan 30, 2007
    5
    I appreciate the raw approach to this album. I also agree that it does play more like an underground tape than a major release (and if the stripped down packaging was a move to lower the container deduction, I think Mos deserves to take a bow!) All bets are usually off when an artist(s) are trying to get out of a contract (Phrenology is a good example of this), so while this isn't I appreciate the raw approach to this album. I also agree that it does play more like an underground tape than a major release (and if the stripped down packaging was a move to lower the container deduction, I think Mos deserves to take a bow!) All bets are usually off when an artist(s) are trying to get out of a contract (Phrenology is a good example of this), so while this isn't Black on Both Sides, It does take some creative liberties, which is refreshing in itself. Expand
  7. Mr.Snake
    Jan 28, 2007
    3
    What happened to this guy? Can't be the same Mos that was one half of Black Star. I think working with big names like Bruce Willis and Mark Wahlberg is getting to him.
  8. JimmyZ
    Jan 23, 2007
    7
    Critics were expecting way too much out of this album. It's got great production, and lyrically it was alright. However some of the songs sounded like filler tracks. I know I've heard better, but Mos Def still works for me.
  9. GaborA
    Jan 19, 2007
    7
    Even when he makes a bad album, this is leagues ahead of most of what hip hop has to offer these days. Not as intelligent as black on both sides but alive and creative nontheless.
  10. DanistonM
    Jan 17, 2007
    8
    This album is much better than most of the criticism it's recieved, Sun Moon and Stars, Undeniable, Fake Bonanza, and Crime and Medicine are all nice songs. However, 3 or 4 songs (the last two) are useless and sound like they were tacked on in the last minute. Hopefully the re-release won't be a complete re-do, but it could be a great album with some cutting and pasting.
Metascore
45

Mixed or average reviews - based on 9 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 9
  2. Negative: 4 out of 9
  1. 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]
  2. A large chunk is bogged down by extended outros and lyrical inanities. [19 Jan 2007, p.81]
  3. A Wu-Tangy darkness permeates the whole album, which is cluttered with gems both musical (live sax and jazz flute) and lyrical.