Last night I sat in on a conversation between Mos Def and Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone at the 92nd Street Y, here in New York. I was really intrigued with Mos’ concept behind the new album he’s working on, titled, “Ecstatic”. It refers to a psychiatric condition and/or phenomenon. Having an “ecstatic experience” or “being in a state of ecstacy” is described as having a heightened state of consciousness, it is also used to denote states of awareness of non-ordinary mental spaces, which may be perceived as spiritual. I just started reading “The Mask of Sanity” first published in 1941 by Dr. Hervey Cleckley, a clinical professor of psychiatry. His later works include “The Three Faces of Eve” co-authored with Corbett Thigpen, which was the basis for the film by the same name, that was released in 1957, starring Joanne Woodward about Multiple Personality Disorder. The inspiration for Mos’ album concept came from “The Ecstatic”, written by Victor LaValle. This will “mos def” be next on my reading list.
From The Y Blog: What You Missed :: Mos Def’s Personal Mixtape
Mos Def was engaging, animated and personable in his conversation last night with Rolling Stone‘s Anthony DeCurtis. The evening began with the premiere of a previously unreleased video for “Beef” (look for it online soon), and included comment on everything from Barack Obama’s ability to appear “above the fray” in politics to the enviable vitality and urgency of some of the hip-hop music being produced outside the United States today.
The Y audience was treated to an impromptu listening party for one of Mos Def’s new tracks to be released later this year on an album called The Ecstatic, after a novel by Victor LaValle. Titled “Pretty Dancer,” it’s dedicated to Muhammad Ali and produced by Madlib.
We were also given a guided tour of the Most Important Songs in Mos Def’s life, in chronological order:
1. ”Reasons” by Earth, Wind and Fire
2. ”O Holy Night,” as first heard in church as a child
3. ”It’s Like That” by Run DMC, as first heard blasting from an open doorway in the Bronx in the early 1980s
4. “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force, as first heard inside a Brooklyn pizzeria one day with his mother (“They sounded like they were coming from space.”)
5. ”The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, as first heard during a “last day of school” class party in the fourth grade.
6. ”The Bridge is Over” by Boogie Down Productions, as first heard on a Bronx sidewalk (“It was news.”)
7. ”A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane, as first heard at the age of 14 (“It was my first means of travel.”)
8. The Band of Gypsys live album by Jimi Hendrix, as first heard at the age of 15 (“I remember being mad, because it was like, ‘why did no one tell me about this?’”)
9. ”Bitches Brew” by Miles Davis, as first heard at the age of 16