Skip to main content

20 Years Later: Mos Def’s ‘Black on Both Sides’ Captures the Rhythms of Black Expression

For TIDAL, we explore Mos Def’s ‘Black on Both Sides,’ an album that captures the rhythms of black expression.
20 Years Later: Mos Def's 'Black on Both Sides' Captures the Rhythms of Black Expression

“You know what’s gonna happen with hip-hop? / Whatever’s happening with us” —Yasiin Bey, “Fear Not Of Man”

Yasiin Bey — formerly known as Mos Def — spent the end of the 20th century eagerly looking at the 21st. On October 12, 1999, just two months before the beginning of the new millennium, he released his debut solo album, Black On Both Sides. Its intro track, “Fear Not Of Man,” serves as a State of The Union on hip-hop at the precipice of 2000.

Bey’s forward-thinking ambitions shine through from the first seconds of “Fear Not Of Man” as he attempts to predict the future of hip-hop. Produced by Bey himself, the track begins with sampled drums from Fela Kuti’s “Fear Not For Man” over live instruments before letting out a loud “Oh-oooooh.” “That was for Brooklyn,” he says, creating a bridge between Nigeria and Bed-Stuy. 



JID, Duke Deuce & Erica Banks: Best of the Week

Best of the Week highlights the latest and greatest on Audiomack across genres and the globe.


5 New Albums You Need to Hear This Week

Press play on new titles from Earl Sweatshirt, Jay Wheeler, FKA twigs, Fiokee, and Cootie.


2 Chainz, Central Cee & HoodCelebrityy: Best of the Week

2 Chainz, Central Cee, HoodCelebrityy, and more, all had the best new songs on Audiomack this week.

Yasiin understood that hip-hop was a culture built on connectivity, and he was more than willing to transmute this message across local and diasporic lines. He knew Blackness was cool, no matter from where it hails. In that respect, Black On Both Sides is and always was more than a traditionalist hip-hop screed. Both lyrically and musically, the album remains a grand display of Black expression in its purest form by being unafraid to tap into the culture’s many rhythms.

Head over to TIDAL to read the full article, for free. 


15 Years Later: JAY-Z's 'The Black Album,' The Timeless Goodbye

15 Years Later: JAY-Z's 'The Black Album,' the Perfect Goodbye

'The Black Album' was meant to be a once-in-a-career album.

Vic Mensa, 2013

‘INNANETAPE’ 5 Years Later: Revisiting Vic Mensa, the Dreamer

Five years later, we examine how Vic Mensa's breakout mixtape traverses all sides of destiny and dreams.

Eminem Slim Shady LP, 20th anniversary

Eminem's 'The Slim Shady LP ' 20 Years Later

Twenty years later, we examine Eminem's tragic fate following the release of his major label debut album, 'The Slim Shady LP.'

Dr. Dre’s ‘2001’ Turns 20

Dr. Dre’s Immeasurable Influence: ‘2001’ 20 Years Later

The success of Dr. Dre’s ‘2001’ was hardly guaranteed.


A Plea to Mos Def for More Raps

What do you do when one of your favorite rappers no longer seems interested in rapping?


A Tribute to Mos Def, the Greatest Rapper That Never Was (1998 - 2016)

Mos Def is the reason I fell in love with hip-hop, and now his music career is officially over.