Getting down on some Mos Def

I just had that kind of experience where an album hits you really hard. You realize how damn good something is and why other people listen to it, like it, and refer to it. It happened the first time I listened to Illmatic, the first time I heard Biggie's first album, it hit me when I happened upon the Canadian rap scene, and it happened again the other day.

I was walking around through the industrial district of South East Portland. Not a bad neighborhood by any stretch but certainly not pretty or quaint, but a good place to jam on nineties hip hop, get some graffiti done (if that's your jam), or just wander around taking in the parts of the world that aren't so glamorized.

Enter me, turning on my Zune freshly out of a coffee shop where I was reading F Scott Fitzgerald and listening to math rock whilst sippin' on a perfectly pulled shot of espresso expertly crafted into an Italiano. I'm wandering down the street and I have an urge to throw on some tunes I don't listen to much. Scrolling through the artist list after a binge of Victor Vaughn, Madlib, MF Doom, and their projects, I decide to give Mos Def's Black on Both Sides a shot. I mean, it's not like I haven't heard this before, it just felt right this time.

Man, I was bumpin' down the street, totally immersed in the smooth flow, the masterful production, the seamless transitions between tracks. The feeling and flavor drew me into a different era of hip hop, back towards the golden age, back towards the seminal albums that formed hip hop into what it is today.

Totally entranced by this now-perfect album, by the time I got home I had listened to it through once, and now, almost a week later, I've probably listened to it at least eight times. This album is raw. Fresh, precise, perfect hip hop.

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