Mos Def Yasiin Bey has had a pretty rough go of it in 2016 (mostly self inflicted), in fact from the outside looking in it appears he’s been having a rough go of it for the past few years now. He’s become more and more reclusive and hasn’t put much out in the way of music or acting, which has ultimately led us to now. He’s abruptly announced he’s ending it all, both musically and acting, and forever stepping from the public eye. But not before a promised few last shows and a pair of albums. The first of which being December 99th, a collaboration between himself and Ferrari Sheppard.
“Girls and ladies
Pushing out at the playground
So so beautiful
They say that they like you
Do they even like themselves?”
December 99th is 100% an experimental album, if you’re a fan of his previous work you won’t recognize anything remotely familiar. But considering he’s releasing the album under a pseudonym I can’t really knock him too much for it. All the production is handled by Ferrari Sheppard and it all has a rough, unfinished feel to it, full of miscellaneous instrumentation, clashing sounds, and an all around loose structure. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I actually liked the loose composition of everything, it gives the whole project a jam session feeling. Not everything works but there are some great moments on songs like “Seaside Panic Room”, “Shadow In The Dark”, and “Heri”. With “Heri” in particular having some fantastic instrumentation.
“What need to be said been already said
Experience the blade not the rhetoric
Keep the chopper close with the breakfast toast
Born ready rock steady on the ready roll
Seaside view pretty panic room”
Now I’ll admit it, I’ve never been the biggest Mos Def (Yasiin Bey whatever) fan. To me his catalog has always been wildly inconsistent, outside of a couple undeniably great albums, so I’m nowhere near as critical of December 99th as I’m sure some of his die hard fans will be. I accept it for what it is, which is an instrumental experiment, and a showcase for Ferrari Sheppard more than anything. In fact, Yasiin Bey barely raps at all, instead filling songs with loose vocals about not much at all. I believe artists should be free to experiment and as an experimental album, December 99th has some great chunks in there.
Have you heard December 99th? What’d you think about it? Were you ok with his experimentation? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave your rating for the album.