Today’s Rap Flashback features Mos Def, now known as Yasiin Bey, who released Black on Both Sides on October 12th, 1999. A year after his wildly successful Black Star collaboration with Talib Kweli, Yasiin’s first solo release is a deep, strong, intelligent look at the state of Hip Hop during one of its most successful and transitional eras. The album would go gold just four months after its release. Black on Both Sides was powered by lead singles “Ms. Fat Booty” and the soulful “Umi Says”. This album was more than two tracks deep however.
Tracks like “New World Water”, “Rock n Roll”, and “Mathematics” tackle cerebral subject matters with mainstream appeal. Yasiin’s lyrical dexterity is certainly on full display throughout the record. While he and Kweli would continue to collaborate and tour, retaining their title as Hip Hop’s most unofficial duo, Black on Both Sides showed that these artists, lightning rods for the sub-genre known as “conscious rap”, were no less powerful as individual entities.
Yasiin would go on to release 3 others albums, his second The New Danger was also an October release, on the 19th in 2004. Big ups Mos Def, Yasiin Bey, or whatever name he may come up with next, because either way you slice it, the man delivers on the mic. Salute!