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Volume 68, Issue 56, Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Arts & Entertainment

Mos Def sweetens ‘Sugari soundtrack

By Keenan Singleton
The Daily Cougar

Itis nice to see Earvin Johnson racking up the assists again. Johnson, who is also known as "Magic" for his exploits on the basketball court, executive produced the film and soundtrack for the popular romantic comedy Brown Sugar. 

His hand in creating opportunities for young black talent should help the nation forget his short-lived, even shorter-laughed, late-night talk show, The Magic Hour.

The film stars Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan as two lifelong friends who know that they love hip-hop, but fail realize the love they share for each other. Oh, arenit romantic comedies the best?

The Brown Sugar soundtrack shines with a number of fine efforts, including that of Mos Def. The highly talented artist lends his skills to four tracks on the soundtrack.
Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Rapper/actor/poet (heis a versatile talent, OK?) Mos Def stars as Chris, a gifted rapper in search of truth in the shady music business in Brown Sugar. He shines in the film, but his real glow is on the 15-track album. Mos contributes on four tracks, including a reunion with the other half of Black Star, Talib Kweli.

One of the more enduring aspects of the album may be the lack of Neptunes-produced tracks and gaudier-than-thou attitude, which have over-saturated the radio recently. This album was made for the poetry-writing, pooka-shell wearing contingent — one vastly overlooked by the mainstream.

The soundtrack dives headfirst into that stream, backed by the so-called "neo-soul" movement. 

"Brown Sugar" is a recurring theme as well as recurring song on the soundtrack. The title appears three times. The albumis opener, "Brown Sugar (Extra Sweet)" teams Mos with r&b songbird Faith Evans. "Extra Sweet" is the most dance club, radio-friendly of the three. 

Black Star is a dynamic duo that doesnit have a clear-cut leader. Kweli is the more lyrically proficient of the two, but Mos is the more charismatic individual. 

The duois "BS (Raw)" is the best use of a combo this side of McDonaldis. 

"BS (Fine)" may be the, well, finest of the trilogy. Mos is on all three versions.

Hip-hopis most talented couple, Erykah Badu and Common (sorry Jay-Z and Beyoncé) make musical love on "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop)." Written by Raphael Saadiq (of seminal r&b trio Tony, Toni, Toné fame), its adventurous bass-line and organ melody interweave to form a tapestry musical confections.

"Paid in Full (The Coldcut Remix)," the classic from Eric B. and Rakim, harkens to the infancy of hip-hop, furbished with Kangol hats and Adidas pantsuits.

The legendary Roots crew returns to feed its legion of starving fans after self-induced hibernation (no albums since 2000). The Grammy-award winning rap band revisits "Act Too (Love of My Life — Remix)" from its last studio album, 1999is Things Fall Apart. If the original track was an ‘A,i this version is an ‘A-.i

Cyndi Lauperis near tearjerker, "Time After Time," gets a jazzy makeover from singer Cassandra Wilson. This version is more ethereal (if thatis possible) than the original. 

Other appearances include offerings from Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott and Angie Stone.

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