Black on Both Sides

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Black on Both Sides
MosDefBlackonBothSides.jpg
Studio album by Mos Def
Released October 12, 1999
Recorded 1998-1999
Genre Hip hop
Length 71:21
Label Rawkus/Columbia
Producer Mos Def (also exec.), Diamond D, Ge-ology, 88-Keys, DJ Premier, Ayatollah, D. Prosper, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Psycho Les, DJ Etch-A-Sketch, David Kennedy
Mos Def chronology
Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star
(1998)
Black on Both Sides
(1999)
The New Danger
(2004)
Singles from Black on Both Sides
  1. "Ms. Fat Booty/Mathematics"
    Released: August 2, 1999
  2. "Umi Says"
    Released: 2000
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[1]
Christgau's Consumer Guide A−[2]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[3]
Entertainment Weekly A−[4]
NME 8/10[5]
Pitchfork Media 8.7/10[6]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[8]
The Source 4/5[9]
Spin 10/10[10]

Black on Both Sides is the debut album of American rapper Mos Def, released on October 12, 1999, by Rawkus Records and Columbia Records. Prior to the album's recording, Mos Def had collaborated with rapper Talib Kweli for the duo's studio album, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star (1998),[11] which raised high expectations for a solo effort.[1] Black on Both Sides features an emphasis on live instrumentation and socially conscious lyrics.[12][7] On February 2, 2000, the album was certified Gold in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), following sales in excess of 500,000 copies.[13]

Music[edit]

Talib Kweli (one-half of Black Star with Mos Def), Q-Tip and Busta Rhymes are the only main rappers to be featured on the album. Kweli raps the second and final verse of "Know That", while Busta goes back and forth with Mos on "Do It Now". Q-Tip helps sing the chorus on "Mr. Nigga" but doesn't deliver a verse. The lyrics Q-Tip recites are similar to his previously released lyrics on A Tribe Called Quest's "Sucka Nigga". Vinia Mojica (who is known for singing on Native Tongues songs) also sings a duet with Mos Def on the song "Climb".

Production[edit]

The album features a mix between established and rising producers. DJ Premier provides the instrumental track for "Mathematics". Diamond D is credited for "Hip Hop". Ali Shaheed Muhammad, known mostly as a member of A Tribe Called Quest, produced the seventh song "Got". Psycho Les of The Beatnuts produced "New World Water" and "Rock N Roll". Jazz legend Weldon Irvine provided additional production to "Climb".

Ayatollah produced "Ms. Fat Booty" and "Know That". 88-Keys produced "Love" and "Speed Law" and co-produced the instrumental outro "May–December" with Mos Def himself. David Kennedy (the second swing of "Brooklyn" and "Umi Says" produced with Mos Def), Mr. Khaliyl ("Do It Now"), DJ Etch-A-Sketch ("Climb" and "Habitat"), Ge-ology (The first swing of "Brooklyn") and D. Prosper ("Mr. Nigga") round out the other contributors.

Mos received production assistance on most of the album's tracks. His sole production credit comes at "Fear Not of Man", but he provided additional production to four tracks ("Hip Hop", "Rock N Roll", "Climb" and "Mr. Nigga") and co-produced three ("Umi Says", "Brooklyn" and "May–December").

Early versions[edit]

On the song "Brooklyn", a three-movement piece dedicated to Mos's neighborhood in Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York, Mos rhymes three verses over three different beats. The first beat is an original composition produced by Ge-ology, while the second verse is a re-creation[clarification needed] of Smif-N-Wessun's "Home Sweet Home" and the last verse is set to the instrumental track of The Notorious B.I.G.'s 1995 single "Who Shot Ya?". Originally, Mos rhymed three complete verses over Ge-ology's musical composition, now referred to as the first movement of the song. On a later version, the first and third verses are set to the instrumentals of two other 1995 New York rap hits, "Incarcerated Scarfaces" by Raekwon as well as "Give Up the Goods (Just Step)" by Mobb Deep, respectively. The "Who Shot Ya?" verse, with the same vocal take on the released version, is placed in the middle. Mos Def sings his own interpretation of the Red Hot Chili Peppers song "Under the Bridge".

Video[edit]

Mos Def was involved with two videos for Umi Says. One was more traditional, while the second one came when Nike and Jordan Brand chose Umi Says as its theme song for its Much Respect series of commercials for the Air Jordan XVI. As a result, the second video features appearances from Michael Finley, Eddie Jones, Derek Jeter, Roy Jones Jr., Ray Allen and even Michael Jordan himself.[14]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Producer(s) Length
1. "Fear Not of Man"   Mos Def 4:28
2. "Hip Hop"   Diamond D, Mos Def* 3:16
3. "Love"   88-Keys 4:23
4. "Ms. Fat Booty"   Ayatollah 3:43
5. "Speed Law"   88-Keys 4:16
6. "Do It Now!" (featuring Busta Rhymes) Mr. Khaliyl 3:49
7. "Got"   Ali Shaheed Muhammad 3:27
8. "Umi Says"   Mos Def, David Kennedy* 5:10
9. "New World Water"   Psycho Les 3:11
10. "Rock N Roll"   Psycho Les, Mos Def* 5:02
11. "Know That" (featuring Talib Kweli) Ayatollah 4:03
12. "Climb" (featuring Vinia Mojica) DJ Etch-A-Sketch, Mos Def*, Weldon Irvine* 4:02
13. "Brooklyn"   Ge-ology, Mos Def*, David Kennedy* 5:09
14. "Habitat"   DJ Etch-A-Sketch 4:39
15. "Mr. Nigga" (featuring Q-Tip) D-Prosper, Mos Def* 5:12
16. "Mathematics"   DJ Premier 4:06
17. "May–December"   88-Keys, Mos Def* 3:29
  • Co-producer

Personnel[edit]

All lyrics by Mos Def.

# Title Notes
1 "Fear Not of Man"

Songwriters: D. Smith
Sample: "Fear Not for Men" by Fela Kuti
Sample: "Morgenspaziergang" by Kraftwerk

2 "Hip Hop"

Songwriters: D. Smith
Sample: "The Warnings (Part II)" by David Axelrod
Sample: "Slow Dance" by Stanley Clarke

3 "Love"

Songwriters: D. Smith
Sample: "Porgy" by Bill Evans

4 "Ms. Fat Booty"

Songwriters: D. Smith, L. Dorrell
Sample: "One Step Ahead" by Aretha Franklin

5 "Speed Law"

Songwriters: D. Smith
Sample: "And That's Saying a Lot" by Christine McVie
Sample "Promise Her Anything but Give Her Arpeggio" by Big Brother & the Holding Company

6 "Do It Now"

Songwriters: D. Smith
Sample: "Marcus Garvey" by Burning Spear

7 "Got"

Songwriters: D. Smith

8 "Umi Says"

Songwriters: D. Smith

9 "New World Water"

Songwriters: D. Smith

10 "Rock n Roll"

Songwriters: D. Smith
Sample: "Memphis at Sunrise" by Bar-Kays

11 "Know That"

Songwriters: D. Smith
Sample: "Anyone Who Had a Heart" by Dionne Warwick

12 "Climb"

Songwriters: D. Smith

13 "Brooklyn"

Songwriters: D. Smith
Sample: "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" by Milt Jackson
Sample: "We Live in Brooklyn, Baby" by Roy Ayers

14 "Habitat"

Songwriters: D. Smith

15 "Mr. Nigga"

Songwriters: D. Smith
Sample: "A Legend in His Own Mind" by Gil-Scott Heron

16 "Mathematics"

Songwriters: D. Smith
Sample: "Baby I'm-a Want You" by The Fatback Band
Sample: "Funky Drummer" by James Brown

17 "May–December"

Songwriters: D. Smith
Sample: "Jungle Jazz" by Kool & the Gang
Sample: "Rock Your Baby" by KC & the Sunshine Band

Charts[edit]

Chart (1999) Peak
position
UK Albums Chart[15] 56
US Billboard 200[16] 25
US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[17] 3
US Billboard Top Rap Albums[18] 1
Singles
Year Title US R&B[19] US Rap UK[20]
1999 "Ms. Fat Booty" 54 20
2000 "Umi Says" 60

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA)[21] Gold 913,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Black on Both Sides – Mos Def". AllMusic. Retrieved August 28, 2009. 
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (November 2, 1999). "Hit It, Now Hold It" (Christgau revised the album's original rating of (B+) to (A-) in his 2000 book Christgau's Consumer Guide). The Village Voice. Retrieved August 28, 2009. 
  3. ^ Larkin, Colin (2006). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 21. ISBN 0195313739. 
  4. ^ Diehl, Matt (November 5, 1999). "Black on Both Sides". Entertainment Weekly. New York. Retrieved August 28, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Black On Both Sides". NME. London. November 18, 1999. Retrieved August 28, 2009. 
  6. ^ Goldman, Andrew (October 12, 1999). "Mos Def: Black on Both Sides". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Lewis, Miles Marshall (November 11, 1999). "Mos Def: Black On Both Sides". Rolling Stone. New York. Archived from the original on July 24, 2008. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  8. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. p. 562. ISBN 0-743-20169-8. 
  9. ^ "Mos Def: Black on Both Sides". The Source. New York (122): 218–20. November 1999. 
  10. ^ Aaron, Charles (August 2009). "Mos Def". Spin. New York. 25 (8): 80. Retrieved April 9, 2016. 
  11. ^ Leroy, Dan (1999-10-12). "Mos Def: Black on Both Sides". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved on 2009-08-28.
  12. ^ Columnist (1999-10-29). "Latest Albums Review". The Independent. Retrieved on 2009-08-28.
  13. ^ RIAA - Gold & Platinum Search. Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved on 2009-06-30.
  14. ^ Umi Says - Much Respect YouTube (produced by Rawkus Records, Nike and Jordan Brand)
  15. ^ Mos Def albums peak chart position in United Kingdom: The New Danger: "Mos Def". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 18, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Mos Def Album & Song Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 18, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Mos Def Album & Song Chart History: R&B/Hip-Hop Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 18, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Mos Def Album & Song Chart History: Rap Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 18, 2012. 
  19. ^ Billboard Charts.Mos Def Singles Chart History.
  20. ^ Official Charts Mos Def Chart Singles History. officialcharts.com
  21. ^ "American album certifications – Mos Def – Black on Both Sides". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
Sources

External links[edit]