Music Video Review: Mos Def's “History”

1/14/2010 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Megan O'Malley

Mos Def has made his return to music with “The Ecstatic,” his first album since 2006’s “The Magic.” The video for his latest single, “History,” leaves something to be desired from this actor/rapper, but the song itself plays directly into the idea and simplicity of the video. Shot by directors Coodie and Chike, the black-and-white film looks more like a student project than a traditional music video. Maybe it’s because there were no traditional elements of a rap video, no bikini clad girls or giant blinged-out necklaces--instead, Mos Def wears a suit and walks around New York.

“History” is a video and a song that grows on you the more you watch and enjoy it. It’s not uninteresting, but it is more about a personal journey of the artist. The song is something everyone can relate to--their own personal history.  But the video is about Mos Def alone.

He is showing the viewer his life,. These are the streets he grew up on; this is where he lived and breathed as he became the man he is today. There are subtle nods to Motown records and Muhammad Ali, along with others that have inspired Def on his musical journey. Just as he looks at his own past, Def seems to be urging viewers to do the same with theirs.

The video's understated style fits both the singer and the song’s personality. Mos Def never has been one to use garish displays for his music; instead, he always has been more about the message. Def’s occasional partner in crime, Talib Kweli, offers a nice little breakdown about halfway through the song, which make for a more dynamic piece overall. The light voices of the background singers as they repeatedly croon the word “history” seems obtrusive at first, but eventually helps to create a multilayered feel. Overall, the video is a welcome return. Mos Def is one of the more versatile artists and it is always exciting to see him return to his musical roots.

Rating: B+

View the video for Mos Def's "History" below. What are your thoughts?

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