Mos Def is a poet, a rapper, an actor and a man whose ambition and ability to work effectively with a wide range of music created a genre-expanding hip-hop masterpiece with 1999's Black On Both Sides. That same desire and drive have since led him to a Golden Globe nomination, a starring role on Broadway, the lead in the upcoming motion-picture adaptation of Douglas Adams' sci-fi satire The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and—after a five-year wait—a hard-to-grasp follow-up album that's bloated with tossed-off slow jams and bumbling metal.
Ever since Black On Both Sides had everyone fawning, fussing and just plain gaping in reverence at the way this MC from Brooklyn could deftly handle weighty topics such as the systematic exploitation of blacks by the music execs ("The industry just a better built cell block/Long way from the shell tops/And the bells that L rocked," he warned on the track "Hip-Hop"), Mos has been convinced he needs to remind the world that rock is as much a black thing as hip-hop.
So he assembled a band whose lineage alone should have proved the point. There's the former Living Color rhythm section with Will Calhoun on drums and Doug Wimbish on bass, as well as guitarist Gary "Dr. Know" Miller (of Bad Brains fame) and the legendary Parliament Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell. You'd figure those guys could walk into a room and just puke over a microphone and it would sound better than most of what's on KROQ, but for whatever cosmic-slop reason, they went for a nü-metal sound and unfortunately nailed it.
As a result, Mos Def's long-anticipated The New Danger is about as new and dangerous as Linkin Park. Mos couldn't let a 70-minute album go by without a few lyrical gems, and "Life Is Real" and "Sex Drugs and Money" both remind you of his greatness, but many of the lyrics sound like they were thought up in the studio.
So why should you spend to see a great rapper too focused on acting to realize he's diluting his talents? Well, for starters, there's a chance he'll forgo all the crap and bring out one of his compatriots to put on a sweet show for the old fans—like he did last month with Talib Kweli. (Michael Coyle)
MOS DEF AT THE HOUSE OF BLUES, 1530 S. DISNEYLAND DR., ANAHEIM, (714) 778-BLUE; WWW.HOB.COM. TUES., 7 P.M. $33. ALL AGES.
SKEET SKEET SKEET
Who would have thought after Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz's song "Get Low" (off Kings of Crunk) came out that a person could do so much with so little? Lil Jon's catchphrases—"Yeah!" "What!" "Okay!" "Crunk!" and "Skeet!"—pour out of screaming 20-something-year-old guys everywhere Budweiser is sold, and the Atlanta-based producer (and eventually rapper) built an empire extending from Crunk Energy Drink all the way to the heart of the adult industry (because, as Lil Jon told Playboy, "Yeah, I like porn!"). But "crunk" and "skeet"—introduced in "Get Low" and reinforced on the latest album, Crunk Juice—are here to stay.
"Skeet" is a word full of more mystery than the junk food lingering in MF Doom's stomach; technically, it could replace the verb "squirt," but it's commonly understood to be situation-specific to pulling out and shooting semen all over your partner's back. ("White people don't know how to use it right," some girl at the bar was explaining the other night.) And "crunk" is a simple combination of "crazy" and "drunk." When amplified, it amounts to lots of bass, lots of shouting and maybe a fight or two. When ingested in energy-drink form, it tastes like pomegranate—hey, we find out so you don't have to.
So while T.I. might claim to be the real King of the South, Lil Jon is the undisputed King of Crunk. But nothing is forever: Remember when TheNew York Times called Master P rap's savviest mogul because he owned a gas station and a phone-sex firm? (Charlie Rose)
LIL JON AND THE EASTSIDE BOYZ WITH TANGO REDD AT THE HOUSE OF BLUES, 1530 S. DISNEYLAND DR., ANAHEIM, (714) 778-BLUE; WWW.HOB.COM. FRI., 8:30 P.M. $40-$42.50. ALL AGES.
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