on 16 February 2004
I have an enormous collection of hip hop, ranging from the early 90s to 2day, but nothing stands out like this. To say the very least, Mos Def is an immensly talented mc and his rhymes are witty, entertaining and thought provoking. Black on Both Sides is refreshing, even though Mos Def isn't rapping about the same subjects as 2days latest stars like 50 cent etc (which makes a nice change!) there is a track for every1 and every mood. For me 'Ms Fat Booty', 'Do it now', 'New World Water', 'Know that' ft Talib Kweli and the unusual 'Climb' really stand out. He mixes chilled out hip hop jazz beats with sharp lyrics which makes this cd so easy to listen to. I suppose alot people say this about loadsa music, but this cd is so worth the money, even if you arent usually drawn to more underground artists, Mos Def has something about him that is so uplifting. I also like the way the tracks are neatly mixed one to another. I suppose this is like a more educated, less egotistic version of Nas, or a less harsh Pharoah Monche. Whatever your tastes, this cd is so diverse its worth having, any self respecting hip hop fan would agree!! Peace
on 4 August 2001
I first heard Umi Says and thought who is this, so I bought the album on the strength of that joint. That was a class track and this album has more gems, the single MS Fat Booty, love, know that and Mr Nigga. These are probably the standout tracks and you will be skipping back to replay these tracks, Mos Defs lyrics are truely brilliant and this album would not be for those gangsta rap fans as it is more soul and lyrics that make sense and have real issues. If you like common, Talib Kweli and the Blackstar joint then you must purchase this album it's a true classic. Quinny in Leeds
on 15 February 2000
'Black on Both Sides' is quite simply, an amazing album that proves without question that Mos Def is the most talented person in all of hip-hop and quite possibly, all music genres.
Mos Def appeared on the Black Star LP in 98 which, in my opinion, was one of the best hip-hop albums of all time. It contained a collection of classic tracks with intelligent rhymes examining social ills in America and generally thought provoking lyrics. 'Black on Both Sides' continues this and adds to it with innovative and polished production that makes this album a must, whether you want to be inspired and educated or just want something phat to bop your head to. This album has it all.
If I had to choose some tracks out of all these cuts, i would go for the scarily good 'Hip Hop' and the DJ Premier-produced 'Mathematics'.
Mos Def is only gonna get better after this and you'd better believe that one day he is gonna drop the best album of all time. Miss this album and you are missing the most important debut album of your generation. Believe that!
If you like your hip hop to come with immature lyrics and lazy samples (see: Puff Daddy, Will Smith, Master P, Jay-Z etc.) then perhaps this isn't the album for you. For all the other real hip hop heads and anyone else interested in just good music, do not hesitate in buying this album. You will not be disappointed. You have my word.
Put simply, if 'Black on Both Sides' is not in your CD collection, you should be ashamed.
on 21 September 2007
Even though this is just my opinion, i think many can agree that this is the best hip hop album ever released. This is one of those albums that you will have on repeat for the whole day without getting bored of it. For some listeners, it will take a couple of listens to get used to, but as soon as you have you will be recommending this to all of your friends. Now if you're into hip hop from artists like 50 Cent and G Unit this might not be the album for you, but give it a try anyway. Standout tracks include Ms. Fat Booty (a track explaining the relationship between Mos and a girl he meets in a club), Umi Says (a mellow jazz inspired track, with Mos playing many of the instruments included), Do It Now (a high energy track with Busta Rhymes) and Know That (an early taste of the amazing 'Black Star' partnership with Talib Kweli). If you haven't got this album already, GET IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
After his patchy 2004 release, The New Danger, this remains the definitive Mos Def album: a towering achievement by a unique artist whose appeal stretches way beyond the boundaries of rap and hip-hop. Painted from a rich and diverse musical palette, Black on Both Sides simply dazzles at every turn. It eschews the overly slick production and the cloying references to guns and b*tches usually associated with the genre, and instead focusses its attention on themes of a rather more universal nature. On 'Rock `N' Roll', for example, Mos seeks to redress the balance in the collective consciousness of the music buying public ("You may dig on the Rolling Stones, but everything they did they stole") while on `New World Water' he reflects lucidly on that most precious commodity, otherwise known as H2O.
As a whole, BoBS is an intelligent, understated oeuvre - but it is not without bite; see, notably, the aforementioned `Rock `N' Roll', `Know That' (my personal favourite track, featuring long-time partner-in-rhyme, Talib Kweli) and `Mr Nigga', in which Mos deals a deft blow to institutionalized racism with lines about amusing encounters with first-class air stewardesses.
Soothing, inspiring, and empowering, Black on Both Sides is that rare thing in music: an album to suit any mood. Definitely one of my top 10 records of all time...
on 20 July 2002
I'll keep it simple. This album is excellent. It is a modern hip hop classic. Anybody who does not own this CD, does not appreciate or understand REAL hip hop (which is an over-used term - Jigga, Nas, DMX, Dre, Eminem, Xzbibit, they are NOT real hip hop).
Real hip hop is about lyrical honesty, and Mos Def has that in bucket loads. He does not need to pretend to be a gangster or a pimp or dealer to get the respect of the black audiance, he does not need to sell his record by using obscene levels of profanity, he does not tell people about what he does (or maybe does not) do to his girlfriends. He is not rascist, he is not sexist, he does not lie about his lifestyle, he can see right through these 'gangsta rappers', and he makes utterly stunning music.
The production on this album is incredible, it is relaxing and smooth, but is raw at the same time - it is differant.
Also, Mos Def has the best flow that we've seen in the game since Tupac or early Nas. Add to that his profound lyrical brilliance, amazing singing ability and the fact that he plays his own instruments and we have a near-perect hip hop album.
My own personal favourite tracks are; Kwow That (with Kweli!), Habitat, Mr N***a (with Q-Tip), Mathematics, Climb, Hip Hop and Speed Law. But to be honest every track on here would stand out by miles on any other hip hop album (except 'Brooklyn' it is really just 3 short, average songs thrown together - come on Mos!).
To conclude, buy this album if you want real hip hop, something fresh, something differant. Don't buy this album if you love Nelly or Puffy or Master P. This album is a work of art - I love it, so should you.
on 1 October 2002
At 28 years old I have spent a lifetime listening to Guitar based music, until a couple of years ago. First it was De La Soul, then A Tribe Called Quest. When I was sure I liked Hip-Hop I got into The Jungle Brothers, Gang Starr and The Roots. Now I've found Mos Def and, to be fair, he's the cream.
Black on Both Sides is just the absolute business. From the opening 'intro' track onwards, this album just inspires. The lyrics are superb, and the beats are spot on. I hate the whole Gansta Rap scene, so quality lyrics blended with beats that help you walk rather than give you a blinding headache are what's needed. Mos Def does that.
Best tracks? Ms Fat Booty and Love stand out. But they're all superb. Q-Tip pops up later on in the album.
Get this album to complement your Soundbombing and Lyricist Lounge albums. And if you haven't heard Fortified Live (not on this album, but featuring Mos Def with Reflection Eternal) then hear it soon.
on 9 October 2002
I bought this album about a year ago, but have hardly stopped playing it. Excellent beats, superb lyrics and a real mix of styles combine to make it a great listen. It's not your typical hip-hop album - he raps intelligently about music, life, his beliefs, sex, you name it. But the songs are incredibly catchy, deep, and varied.
If you like Roots Manuva, you will love this, I promise. He takes a similar approach to Roots Manuva, but executes it more skilfully and comes up with songs that stand the test of time. Highly recommended.
on 20 November 2002
Mos Def has once again proved that he is still one of the shining lights in hip hop. On this album, he combines his laid back rapping with all sorts of culturally diverse background beats, ranging from Indie to jazz to rock and roll (on the namesake track). Tracks that stand out in particular are 'New World Water', 'Speed Law','Love' and 'Fear not of man'. If you like the likes of MC Solaar and Rakim, I strongly suggest you buy this excellen album
on 13 May 2014
Mos Def's debut is definitely one to have a look at. Black on Both Sides is the kind of album that you can easily listen from start to finish without skipping a song, as all the beats are great and the rapper's contribution is always good too.
The album has really got amazing songs, including some of my personal favorites such as "Love", "Ms. Fat Booty" of course, a true classic, or "Got". The ending instrumental "May-December" is also probably one of the best instrumentals I've ever heard on a hip-hop album, the kind of song you put on replay without ever getting bored.
So basically, I truly recommend Black on Both Sides, as it is an amazing piece of art. Full stop.
If you like Talib Kweli (Quality...etc) but still haven't heard any of Mos Def's material, go for it. Now.