Mos Def & Slick Rick Had A Lyrical Workout Over A Madlib Track On This 2009 Collabo (Audio)

In recent weeks, Yasiin Bey (fka Mos Def) announced and seemingly executed his farewell to Hip-Hop, putting on a series of performances that he says are his final. He also released a new album – albeit a collaborative project under the name Dec. 99th – that he presented as being a bookend to his 20+ years as a recording artist. However, that revelation does not seemed to be carved into stone, and the long-awaited collab LP with producer Mannie Fresh appears to be pending release.

Yasiin Bey Rocks The Apollo Theater With Some Help From Slick Rick & Pharoahe Monch (Video)

Whatever is to happen in the future music career of Yasiin Bey, Heads would likely agree that some of the first signs of his changing approach to his artistry came in the form of 2009’s The Ecstatic. The LP flirted with the stylings of Latin Jazz, Reggae, Afrobeat, Middle Eastern Music, and damn near everything in between. It was a far cry from his seminal 1999 solo debut Black on Both Sides, a bona fide Hip-Hop record, through and through. However, elements of his boom-bap background were certainly present on The Ecstatic, most notably on his Madlib-produced duet with Slick Rick, “Auditorium.”

Heads will likely recognize the instrumental from Madlib’s Beat Konducta volumes three and four, and is an interpolation of his tracks “Movie Finale” and “Get It Right,” sampling works by Indian singers Lata Mangeshkar and Minoo Purshottam. Beyond the mesmerizing genius of his production, though, is some of Mos’s finest rapping of the 2000s:

Quiet storm, vital-form pen pushed it right across/
Mind is a vital force, high level right across
shoulders/the lion’s raw voice is the siren/
I swing ’round ring out and bring down the tyrant/
Shocked a small act could knock a giant lopsided/
The world is so dangerous there’s no need for fightin’/
Somethin’s tryna hide like the struggle won’t find ’em/
And the sun bust through the clouds to clearly remind him

Up next is the Ruler, who spits some bars about a child from Iraq, cleverly railing against the ills of war through prose:

Sit and come relax, riddle of the mack, it’s the patch/
I’m a soldier in the middle of Iraq/
Well say about noonish commin’ out the whip/
And lookin at me curious, a young Iraqi kid
Carrying laundry/ What’s wrong G? Hungry?/
No, gimme oil or get the fuck out my country/
And in Arabian barkin’ other stuff/
‘Til his moms come grab him and they walk off in a rush

In true storyteller form, Slick Rick brought “Auditorium” a political verse that arrived just a few months after Barack Obama took office. With tomorrow (January 20) signaling Obama’s exit from the White House, this song feels as timely as ever.