Rolling Stone - 11/11/99, p.1373.5 stars out of 5
- "...manages the oxymoronic feat of being a humble MC....His often nationalistic rhymes are complimented by jazzy, mostly sample-free tracks....Who says that modesty and reverence don't have their place on hip-hop hits?"
Entertainment Weekly - 11/5/99, p.83
"...a tightrope walk across diverse hip-hop styles....Merging old-school bravado with new-school poetics, [Mos Def] spouts incisive Afrocentric reality that takes all sides into account." - Rating: A-
Q - 12/02, p.1204 out of 5
- "...One of the best rap albums of recent years and not a lame skit in earshot..."
Q - 1/00, pp.120-223 stars out of 5
- "...A throwback to the sophisticated heyday of the Native Tongues Posse, with extra poignancy and a bracing Busta Rhymes cameo to boot."
Alternative Press - 2/00, pp.85-64 out of 5
- "...This is the return of the '100-percent intelligent black child'...and he's smarter and more independent than ever....Everyone who likes rap music even a little should hear what Mos has to say..."
The Wire - 1/00, p.67
Included in Wire Magazine's "50 Records Of The Year ['99]"
The Wire - 1/00, p.80
"HipHop's most eloquent spokesman takes his rightful place on the throne....A deeply personal project...one that takes in a vast range of emotions and scenarios....a complex and many layered work..."
CMJ - 11/1/99, p.3
"...simply one of the most unhindered and aesthetically ambitious hip-hop records in recent memory..."
CMJ - 1/10/00, p.3Ranked #5
in CMJ's "Top 30 Editorial Picks [for 1999]."
The Source - 11/99, pp.218-2204 mics out of 5
- "...the mighty Mos Def leads the charge for change....an 80-year-old couldn't make an album this mature."
Mojo (Publisher) - 10/02
"...Among the genre's all-time greats..."
Personnel includes: Mos Def (rap vocals, keyboards, vibraphone, bass, drums, congas, percussion); Vinia Mojica (vocals); Talib Kweli, Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip (rap vocals); Johnny Why (guitar); Weldon Irvine (piano, Fender Rhodes piano, Hammond B-3 organ, keyboards).
Producers include: Mos Def, DJ Premier, Diamond, The Beatnuts, 88 Keys.
Recorded at Sony Music Studios, Chung King and D & D Studios, New York, New York.
Mos Def, one-half of the much loved Brooklyn duo Black Star, breaks out on his own with the most intense solo debut in hip-hop since THE MISEDUCATION OF LAUREN HILL. Like MISEDUCATION, BLACK ON BOTH SIDES stretches the definition of the genre to incorporate all aspects of music of the African Diaspora, from reggae to jazz, to form a new kind of sound. Def sings, Def raps, Def does all that and then some. The wide scope of the album is most evident by the collaborators he chooses to work with, who run the gamut from the underrated mastermind of a Tribe Called Quest, Ali Shaheed Mohammad, to the wrongly unsung hero of rare groove, keyboardist Weldon Irvine.
The message in Mos Def's music is that like in blues and jazz before it: hip-hop is not a separate "giant living in the hillside" but a reflection of who we are. In "Fear of Not Man," Mos queries his audience, "next time you ask where hip-hop is going, ask yourself where am I going?" In "Hip Hop" he warns, "hip hop will simply amaze you, praise you, pay you, do whatever you say to, but black, it can't save you."