The Ecstatic

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The Ecstatic
The Ecstatic.jpg
Studio album by Mos Def
Released June 9, 2009
Genre Alternative hip hop, conscious 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
The Ecstatic
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 rapper Mos Def. It was produced by J Dilla, Mr. Flash, Madlib, Mos Def, Oh No, Preservation, and The Neptunes. Its music has been characterized by critics as conscious and alternative hip hop with global influences.

When The Ecstatic was released by Downtown Records on June 9, 2009, it received widespread critical acclaim and debuted at number nine on the Billboard 200, selling 39,000 copies in its first week. It was named one of 2009's best albums in critics' year-end lists and remained Mos Def's highest charting album in the United States, where it had sold 168,000 copies by 2014.


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 1978 film, Killer of Sheep.[4]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Music journalist Robert Christgau said the album's "unresolved" songs segue into one another, which gives it the feel of a mixtape whose music makes up a globally-influenced hip hop style, "with poles in Brooklyn and Beirut."[5] 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.[6] No Ripcord's Ryan Faughnder called the album "a mellow masterpiece of socially conscious alternative hip-hop".[7] The Ecstatic's "out-of-the-crates" samples are taken from a variety of musical styles, including soul, Afrobeat, eurodance, jazz, funk, and Latin music.[8][9][10][11]


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.[12] Its second single, "Quiet Dog", was produced by Preservation and released January 13, 2009.[13] Released May 2009,[14] the third single "Casa Bey" was promoted through a music video that was released via Mos Def's Myspace page.[15] 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.[16] So far, Mos Def has released music videos for the songs "Casa Bey,"[17] "Supermagic" [18] and "History" with Talib Kweli.[19]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[20]
The A.V. Club B+[21]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[22]
MSN Music A[5]
NME 7/10[23]
Pitchfork Media 8/10[4]
Q 4/5 stars[24]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[25]
Spin 8/10[26]
The Times 5/5 stars[27]

When The Ecstatic was released by Downtown Records on June 9, 2009, it received widespread acclaim from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 81, based on 28 reviews.[28] In the Chicago Tribune, Greg Kot said it was a "return to form for a wayward hip-hop giant" whose reinvigorated commitment made most of the album successful.[8] Nathan Rabin, writing in The A.V. Club, believed the pervading tone of the record was occasionally hurried and extemporaneous but still cohered because of the charming production, Mos Def's melodious voice, and "a lyrical and sonic fascination with life beyond the Western World".[21] Ben Thompson of The Observer found Mos Def's "analytical skills" impeccable and said because of the music's diverse range of samples, it sounded like "a crate-digger's wet dream" and "a thrillingly accessible demonstration of hip-hop's limitless creative possibilities" to a layperson.[11] Mick Middles from The Quietus hailed it as "the joyful sound of a rampant artist, unrestrained by expectation or commercialism", free-flowing music that escaped the boundaries Mos Def's previous albums merely pushed.[29] In a review for MSN Music, Christgau found the songs "devoid of hooks but full of sounds you want to hear again", along with "thoughtfully slurred" yet intelligible lyrics by Mos Def, whose vision warranted the album's introductory Malcolm X sample.[5]

In a less enthusiastic review for NME, Pete Cashmore deemed The Ecstatic nothing more than a satisfactory record,[23] while Eric Henderson from Slant Magazine said apart from the "I Wish"-like "Life in Marvelous Times", the songs lacked structure and "careened wildly, free from the constraints of chorus and verse".[30] Christian Hoard of Rolling Stone found them "often arty", "mildly strange", and inconsistent in quality.[25] AllMusic's Andy Kellman felt its magnetism and unpolished eccentricity required several listens to fully appreciate on what was otherwise "a mind-bending, low-key triumph".[20]

In the first week The Ecstatic was released, it sold 39,000 copies in the United States and debuted at number nine on the Billboard 200 chart.[31] It also entered at number two on's chart measuring mp3-format album sales.[32] The album spent 11 weeks on the Billboard 200,[33] and by March 2014, it had sold an estimated 168,000 copies in the U.S.[34]

At the end of 2009, The Ecstatic was named by critics as one of the year's best albums; according to Acclaimed Music, it was the 21st most ranked records on critics' year-end lists.[35] It was ranked 30th by The Guardian, 24th by Q, 23rd by Slant Magazine, 17th by Rolling Stone, 16th by Sputnikmusic, 15th by PopMatters, 12th by Spex, and 7th by Spin. In The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop, an annual poll of American critics nationwide, The Ecstatic was voted the 11th best album of the year.[36] Christgau, the poll's creator, ranked it 12th on his own year-end list.[37] The Times placed it at number 30 on the newspaper's list of the 100 greatest records of the 2000s decade.[36] It was also nominated for the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, while "Casa Bey" was nominated in the category of Best Rap Solo Performance.[38]

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


# 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 (2009) Peak
U.S. Billboard 200[33] 9
U.S. Billboard Top Independent Albums[39] 2
U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[39] 5
U.S. Billboard Top Rap Albums[39] 2


  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 Patrin, Nate (June 10, 2009). "Mos Def: The Ecstatic". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on April 21, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c Christgau, Robert (July 2009). "Consumer Guide". MSN Music. Archived from the original on January 15, 2011. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ Faughnder, Ryan (December 20, 2009). "Top 50 Albums of 2009 (Part One)". No Ripcord. Retrieved July 11, 2015. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Munro, Tyler (2009-06-10). "Mos Def - The Ecstatic (staff review)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 2009-09-22. 
  11. ^ a b Thompson, Ben (2009-07-12). "Pop review: Mos Def, The Ecstatic". The Observer. Retrieved 2009-07-23.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Thompson" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  12. ^ Mos Def "Ecstatic" About Upcoming CD. SOHH. Retrieved on 2010-03-11.
  13. ^ Harvey, Kevin. "Mos Def's newly released singles create hype for upcoming album". The Paly Voice. Retrieved on 2010-03-11.[dead link]
  14. ^ "The Barometer" at the Wayback Machine (archived May 26, 2009). The Independent. Retrieved on 2010-03-11.
  15. ^ Bericht van 07.mei.2009. "Video Mos Def - "Casa Bey" - The Ecstatic - 6.9.09 van Mos Def - Myspace Video". Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  16. ^ 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. 
  17. ^ "Mos Def - Casa Bey". YouTube. 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  18. ^ Video on YouTube[dead link]
  19. ^ diblio. "Mos Talib History - WWW.CREATIVECONTROL.TV". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-02-20. [dead link]
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  24. ^ Q (London): 111. September 2009. 
  25. ^ 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. 
  26. ^ Boylan, J. Gabriel (June 2009). "Reclaiming the Mic". Spin (New York) 25 (6): 86. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
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  28. ^ "The Ecstatic Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
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  31. ^ Caulfield, Keith. Black Eyed Peas 'E.N.D.' Up At No. 1 On Billboard 200. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-03-11.
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  33. ^ a b "Mos Def Album & Song Chart History |". Billboard. Retrieved on 2011-05-19.
  34. ^
  35. ^ "Mos Def". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved October 4, 2015. 
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External links[edit]