The mighty Mos Def has finally returned to the masses or a least to the aficionados of hip-hop. It has been years since the Black on Both Sides record dropped and we rocked to Ms. Fat Booty (“Ass so fat you can see it from the front!”) or vibed to the beautiful Umi Says even if it launched a Nike commercial. There were seeds scattered across that record. A New Danger presents the product of these seeds. In particular, Mos Def’s rock and roll seed has deeper roots, a stem with leaves reaching for the sky and reaching for an audience.

Mos Def has further exposed his rock and roll doppelganger. Coupled with his band – Blackjack Johnson, sections of this record feel like the Blackjack Johnson record that was supposed to drop a year or so ago. Perhaps this is the introduction; get the crowd interested. There are a number of guitar rift inspired tracks that reach from traditional rock to blues inspiration.

Don’t fear – this is a hip-hop record with some banging, polished beats, cleaver and infectious lyrics along with the occasional lo-fi sounds that leave you with a grit-like texture in your mouth. Many may choose to call it an alternative hip-hop record. I would disagree. Mos Def has continued to make music that is not a photocopy of the “engineered for consumption” rap products shoved down our throats. He gracefully pushes the limits, makes unique expression and thereby reflects one of the pillars of hip-hop – be different, unique, insightful, and cutting edge.

This is reflected in a brilliant, insightful track – The Rape Over. Mos takes that Jay-Z track, the Takeover, flips the lyrics, and spells out as to who really runs the hip-hop game and industry. A short two minute joint Mos points fingers to the major corporations like AOL Time Warner, Viacom and old white men that are the true gangstas of the game.

At the Virgin store, with this CD in my hand for purchase, the store began to shake with Ghetto Rock. It was a first listen, but was indisputably Mos Def. Yeah, it’s one of the rock inspired tracks with the twang of a guitar but the track is clean, contemporary and it bangs. Yes you will be mouthing – “Blackjack Johnson N-Y-C R-O-C-K-I-N-G…” Contrast with Grown Man Business with beats that feel like the Bronx on vinyl – say early 90’s – a long time ago. Producer Minnesota drops lines, represents the Bronx, and duets with Mos coming straight out of Brooklyn.

There are a number of slowed down, laid back, and introspective tracks: the bluesy Bedsty Parade, the chilled out The Panties, the love laced The Beggar, which culminate to the magnificent, insightful, and heartfelt, 9 minute track Modern Marvel, a trilogy in a single joint built up and around Marvin Gaye. With a looping sample from “Flying High” and completing with “What’s Goin’ On?”, Mos softly tells his story and brings it up from the background and transforms it the forefront in three different levels all within the same track. The song completes with his tribute to the innovator.

The New Danger is a combination of various music styles and themes. I believe it reflects the many facets of Mos Def’s person. It is easy to say that Mos is an artist; some would say an innovator and I’d agree. It would be wonderful if the masses could appreciate it, but I suspect he will remain just under the radar of white middle-class, Bible belt, Middle America kids. But then again I could be wrong and MTV could put this on heavy rotation.