Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sample Set #12: Black on Both Sides

Today is the 15-year anniversary of the release of the mighty Mos Def's debut LP, Black on Both Sides. I've wanted to revisit this sample set for a while now; I figured this was the best opportunity to do just that! This set (#12) was originally compiled back in January of 2008, when Hip Hop Is Read was still just a months-old experiment. Little did I know the one and only Combat Jack would visit the site, download/listen to the set, and give me a shoutout in 2010 on his fledgling radio program - which has now grown into a true cultural phenomenon. Much respect to Combat Jack, who's been down since day one. I've added his shoutout as the intro for this revamped Back on Both Sides sample set - even though he hilariously butchers my last name (LOL), but it's all good! Dallas Penn makes a special (and offensive) appearance, too. But now let's get into the music...

Black on Both Sides interior artwork

The original set contained 24 songs. This one's got 38. Many of the new additions are classic hip hop tracks (Beastie Boys, Eric B. & Rakim, MC Shan, etc.) which were scratched onto songs like "Hip Hop" and "Mathematics". We've also got a couple new and essential reggae tracks (Gregory Isaac's "If I Don't Have You" and Burning Spear's "Marcus Garvey") that are great additions and help to demonstrate the Afrocentric collage of Mos Def's debut. In order to update this set, I revisited Black on Both Sides (after admittedly leaving it in the dust for a few years). It was a rewarding experience. I'm not the best at judging how well albums age as I don't really know how you measure something like that. Black on Both Sides was released, after all, during an age when the "conscious" label wasn't nearly as contemptible as it's been for the past decade or so. But for my money, this album still holds up quite well - arguably better than the Black Star effort by Mos and fellow Brooklyn emcee Talib Kweli. Do yourself a favor and revisit Black on Both Sides on its 15th birthday. Turn it up!!