Christian Hoard's "Christian Rock" pick in this week's New Music Report is the latest album from rapper Mos Def, The Ecstatic. Mos Def has been making rap records for more than a decade, but his latest is definitely his best since 2004's The New Danger, Hoard says. There are upbeat songs and soulful tracks, but the overall sound is arty and grimy and the LP plays like a mixtape. Madlib produced several tracks including "Auditorium," which boats an eerie beat and a nice Slick Rick cameo where he imagines himself as a rapping soldier who gets hated on by an Iraqi child.
Sometimes Mos spins narratives, sometimes he arranges words loosely around topics ranging from luxury hotels to skilled workers to war to Barack Obama. On "Life in Marvelous Times," he starts with thickly detailed narrative about growing up in Bed Sty and builds up to summation of the present as a scary and fascinating time. Save a few chin-stroking moments, on The Ecstatic Mos Def sounds on his game and engaged in his world.