The Ecstatic

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The Ecstatic
Studio album by Mos Def
Released June 9, 2009
Genre Hip hop
Length 45:34
Label Downtown
Producer J Dilla, Mr. Flash, Madlib, Mos Def, The Neptunes, Oh No, Preservation
Mos Def chronology
True Magic
(2006)
The Ecstatic
(2009)
Singles from The Ecstatic
  1. "Life in Marvelous Times"
    Released: November 4, 2008
  2. "Quiet Dog Bite Hard"
    Released: January 13, 2009
  3. "Casa Bey"
    Released: May 2009
  4. "Supermagic"
    Released: December 2009
  5. "History"
    Released: January 2010

The Ecstatic is the fourth studio album by American hip hop artist Mos Def, released June 9, 2009 on Downtown Records. The album was produced by J Dilla, Mr. Flash, Madlib, Mos Def, Oh No, Preservation, and The Neptunes.

The album debuted at number nine on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling 39,000 copies in its first week. It serves as Mos Def's second highest charting album to date. Upon its release, The Ecstatic received universal acclaim from music critics.

Background[edit]

In a podcast interview with Anthony DeCurtis at the 92nd Street Y, Mos Def stated that he named the album after the book The Ecstatic by Victor LaValle.[1] The album features collaborations with Slick Rick, Talib Kweli and Georgia Anne Muldrow,[2] as well as production by Mr. Flash and the late J Dilla.[3] The album cover is taken from Charles Burnett's 1977 film, Killer of Sheep. It samples several diverse musical styles, including soul, Afrobeat, eurodance, jazz, funk, and Latin music, and has been noted by music writers for its "out-of-the-crates" samples.[4][5][6][7]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Music journalist Robert Christgau said that the album's "unresolved" songs segue into one another, which gives it the feel of a mixtape whose music makes up a "world hip-hop" with "poles in Brooklyn and Beirut."[8] Simmy Richman of The Independent categorized it as conscious hip hop with an Eastern-influenced musical backdrop that is reflective of Mos Def's "post-War on Terror" themes.[9]

Release and promotion[edit]

In live shows, Mos Def performed new songs from the album before its release. Crowds had heard tracks produced by Madlib and Oh No (Madlib’s younger brother). The album's first single, "Life in Marvelous Times", was released November 4, 2008.[10] Its second single, "Quiet Dog", was produced by Preservation and released January 13, 2009.[11] Released May 2009,[12] the third single "Casa Bey" was promoted through a music video that was released via Mos Def's Myspace page.[13] On June 18, 2009, Mos Def stated that he will start selling the album by T-shirts sometime in July 2009 with a code on the tag, which will be used to download off the Internet for free.[14] So far, Mos Def has released music videos for the songs "Casa Bey,"[15] "Supermagic" [16] and "History" with Talib Kweli.[17]

Commercial performance[edit]

The Ecstatic debuted at number nine on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling 39,000 copies in its first week.[18][19] It also entered at number two in mp3-format album sales on Amazon.com.[20] In its second week on the Billboard 200, the album fell to number 29 on the chart with 16,000 copies sold.[21] In its third week, the album sold 9,200 copies, slipping to number 45 on the Billboard chart.[22] The album slipped off of the Billboard 200 after the week of July 5, 2009, in which it sold an additional 6,600 copies at #69.[23] The album spent 11 weeks on the Billboard 200,[24] and has sold more than 71,000 copies.[23]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[25]
The A.V. Club B+[26]
Robert Christgau A[8]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[27]
NME 7/10[28]
Pitchfork Media 8.0/10[29]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[30]
Slant Magazine 3.5/5 stars[31]
Spin 8/10[32]
The Times 5/5 stars[33]

The Ecstatic received universal acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 81, based on 28 reviews.[34] Greg Kot, writing in the Chicago Tribune, said that it is a "return to form for a wayward hip-hop giant" whose reinvigorated commitment makes most of the album successful.[4] Allmusic's Andy Kellman called it "a mind-bending, low-key triumph" with a magnetism and unpolished eccentricity that requires several listens to fully appreciate.[25] In his review for The A.V. Club, Nathan Rabin said that the album overcomes its occasionally hurried, extemporaneous feel and coheres because of affective production, Mos Def's melodious voice, and "a lyrical and sonic fascination with life beyond the Western World."[26] Ben Thompson of The Observer found his "analytical skills" impeccable and said that, because of its diverse range of samples, the album serves as both "a crate-digger's wet dream" and "a thrillingly accessible demonstration of hip-hop's limitless creative possibilities" to a layperson.[7] MSN Music's Robert Christgau found the songs "devoid of hooks but full of sounds you want to hear again" and "thoughtfully slurred", yet intelligible lyrics by Mos Def, whose vision warrants the introductory Malcolm X sample.[8]

Pete Cashmore of NME was less enthusiastic in his review and said that it is merely "good".[28] Slant Magazine's Eric Henderson felt that, apart from the "I Wish"-like "Life in Marvelous Times", The Ecstatic lacks song structure and "careens wildly, free from the constraints of chorus and verse".[31] Mick Middles of The Quietus viewed it as the work of an aloof, "rampant" artist and said that the music is "allowed to flow free, for better or worse."[35] Christian Hoard of Rolling Stone found it "mildly strange" and wrote that Mos Def "doesn't maintain quality control during the course of 16 often arty tracks."[30] The magazine later named it the 17th best album of 2009.[36] For the 2009 Grammy Awards, The Ecstatic was nominated in the category of Best Rap Album. The single "Casa Bey" was nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance.[37]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Producer(s) Length
1. "Supermagic"   Oh No 2:32
2. "Twilite Speedball"   Chad Hugo; Mos Def (co) 3:02
3. "Auditorium" (featuring Slick Rick) Madlib; Mos Def (co) 4:34
4. "Wahid"   Madlib 1:39
5. "Priority"   Preservation for Preserved Productions 1:22
6. "Quiet Dog Bite Hard"   Preservation for Preserved Productions 2:57
7. "Life in Marvelous Times"   Mr. Flash 3:41
8. "The Embassy"   Mr. Flash; Mos Def (co) 2:45
9. "No Hay Nada Mas"   Preservation for Preserved Productions 1:42
10. "Pistola"   Oh No 3:02
11. "Pretty Dancer"   Madlib 3:31
12. "Workers Comp."   Mr. Flash 2:02
13. "Revelations"   Madlib 2:03
14. "Roses" (featuring Georgia Anne Muldrow) Georgia Anne Muldrow 3:41
15. "History" (featuring Talib Kweli) J Dilla 2:21
16. "Casa Bey"   MV Bill, Mos Def; Preservation for Preserved Productions (co) 4:32

Personnel[edit]

# Title Notes
1 "Supermagic"

Songwriters: D. Smith, M. Jackson
Sample: "İnce İnce Bir Kar Yağar" by Selda Bagcan
Sample: "Heavy" by Oh No
Intro: Malcolm X at Oxford University in 1964

2 "Twilite Speedball"

Songwriters: D. Smith, C. Hugo

3 "Auditorium"

Songwriters: D. Smith, O. Jackson Jr., R. Walters
Sample: Utilizes "Get it Right" by Madlib
Sample: Utilizes "Movie Finale" by Madlib
Dialogue taken from the film The Battle of Algiers

4 "Wahid"

Songwriters: D. Smith, O. Jackson Jr.
Sample: Utilizes "The Rip Off (Scene 3)" by Madlib

5 "Priority"

Songwriters: D. Smith, J. Daval, B. Hebb, S. Brown
Sample: "Flower" by Bobby Hebb

6 "Quiet Dog Bite Hard"

Songwriters: D. Smith, J. Daval
Dialogue from the documentary Music Is a Weapon, dialogue excerpts spoken by Fela Kuti

7 "Life in Marvelous Times"

Songwriters: D. Smith, G. Bousquet

8 "The Embassy"

Songwriters: D. Smith, G. Bousquet, Ihsan al Munzer
Sample: "The Joy of Lina" by Ihsan al Munze

9 "No Hay Nada Mas"

Songwriters: D. Smith, J. Daval

10 "Pistola"

Songwriters: D. Smith, M. Jackson, A. Hester
Sample: "In the Rain" by Anthony Hester
Additional Lyrics: "Cowboys To Girls" by The Intruders (1968)

11 "Pretty Dancer"

Songwriters: D. Smith, O. Jackson Jr.

12 "Workers Comp."

Songwriters: D. Smith, G. Bousquet, M. Gaye
Sample: "If This World Were Mine" by Marvin Gaye

13 "Revelations"

Songwriters: D. Smith, O. Jackson Jr., M. Drake
Sample: "Colours" by Michael Drake
Sample: "Savage Beast" by Madlib

14 "Roses"

Songwriters: D. Smith, G. Anne Muldrow

15 "History"

Songwriters: D. Smith, J. Yancey, T.K. Greene, Zekkariyas, M. Wells Womack
Sample: "Two Lovers History" by Mary Wells

16 "Casa Bey"

Songwriters: D. Smith, E. Lobo
Sample: "Casa Forte" by Banda Black Rio

Charts[edit]

Charts (2009) Peak
position
US Billboard 200[24] 9
US Billboard Top Independent Albums[38] 2
US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[38] 5
US Billboard Top Rap Albums[38] 2

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ "[VIDEO] Mos Def challenges Lil Wayne & Jay-Z to rap battle". New Lil Wayne. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  3. ^ "EXCLUSIVE NEW DOWNLOAD: Mos Def - Casa Bey | RCRD LBL | Free Music Downloads". Rcrd Lbl. 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  4. ^ a b Kot, Greg (August 13, 2009). "Turn It Up: Album review: Mos Def's 'The Ecstatic'". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on April 21, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  5. ^ Stewart, Allison (2009-06-09). "Music Review: Black Eyed Peas' 'The E.N.D.'; Mos Def's 'The Ecstatic'". The Washington Post. Retrieved on 2009-07-23.
  6. ^ Munro, Tyler (2009-06-10). "Mos Def - The Ecstatic (staff review)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 2009-09-22. 
  7. ^ a b Thompson, Ben (2009-07-12). "Pop review: Mos Def, The Ecstatic". The Observer. Retrieved 2009-07-23. 
  8. ^ a b c Christgau, Robert (July 2009). "Consumer Guide". MSN Music. Archived from the original on January 15, 2011. 
  9. ^ Richman, Simmy (August 23, 2009). "Album: Mos Def, The Ecstatic (Downtown)". The Independent (London). Archived from the original on April 21, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  10. ^ Mos Def "Ecstatic" About Upcoming CD. SOHH. Retrieved on 2010-03-11.
  11. ^ Harvey, Kevin. "Mos Def's newly released singles create hype for upcoming album". The Paly Voice. Retrieved on 2010-03-11.[dead link]
  12. ^ "The Barometer" at the Wayback Machine (archived May 26, 2009). The Independent. Retrieved on 2010-03-11.
  13. ^ Bericht van 07.mei.2009. "Video Mos Def - "Casa Bey" - The Ecstatic - 6.9.09 van Mos Def - Myspace Video". Vids.myspace.com. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  14. ^ Vasquez, Andres (2009-06-19). "Mos Def Sells Album Through T-Shirt | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  15. ^ "Mos Def - Casa Bey". YouTube. 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  16. ^ Video on YouTube[dead link]
  17. ^ diblio. "Mos Talib History - WWW.CREATIVECONTROL.TV". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-02-20. [dead link]
  18. ^ Caulfield, Keith. Black Eyed Peas 'E.N.D.' Up At No. 1 On Billboard 200. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-03-11.
  19. ^ Paine, Jake (2009-06-17). "Hip Hop Album Sales: The Week Ending 6/14/2009 | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  20. ^ "Bestsellers: The most popular items in MP3 Downloads". Amazon.com. 2009-09-09. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  21. ^ Jacobs, Allen (2009-06-24). "Hip Hop Album Sales: The Week Ending 6/21/2009 | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  22. ^ Jacobs, Allen (2009-07-01). "Hip Hop Album Sales: The Week Ending 6/26/2009 | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  23. ^ a b Paine, Jake (2009-07-08). "Hip Hop Album Sales: The Week Ending 7/5/2009 | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  24. ^ a b "Mos Def Album & Song Chart History | Billboard.com". Billboard. Retrieved on 2011-05-19.
  25. ^ a b Kellman, Andy. "The Ecstatic - Mos Def". Allmusic. Archived from the original on April 21, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  26. ^ a b Rabin, Nathan (June 30, 2009). "Mos Def: The Ecstatic". The A.V. Club (Chicago). Archived from the original on April 21, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  27. ^ MacInnes, Paul (August 20, 2009). "Mos Def: The Ecstatic". The Guardian (London). Film & music section, p. 9. Archived from the original on April 21, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  28. ^ a b Cashmore, Pete (August 21, 2009). "Album review: Mos Def - 'The Ecstatic'". NME (London). Archived from the original on April 21, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  29. ^ Patrin, Nate (June 10, 2009). "Mos Def: The Ecstatic". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on April 21, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  30. ^ a b Hoard, Christian (May 26, 2009). "The Ecstatic : Mos Def : Review". Rolling Stone (New York). Archived from the original on April 21, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  31. ^ a b Henderson, Eric (June 25, 2009). "Mos Def: The Ecstatic". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on April 21, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  32. ^ Boylan, J. Gabriel (June 2009). "Reclaiming the Mic". Spin (New York) 25 (6): 86. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  33. ^ Potton, Ed (August 22, 2009). "Mos Def: The Ecstatic". The Times (London). Archived from the original on January 15, 2011. Retrieved January 15, 2011. 
  34. ^ "The Ecstatic Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  35. ^ Middles, Mick (August 27, 2009). "Mos Def". The Quietus. Archived from the original on April 21, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  36. ^ Staff. "The 25 Best Albums of 2009" at the Wayback Machine (archived March 23, 2010). Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2009-12-27.
  37. ^ Harling, Danielle (2009-12-03). "Drake, Mos Def And More Receive Grammy Nominations | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  38. ^ a b c Billboard Albums: The Ecstatic. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-03-11.

External links[edit]