By the time I first heard Mos Def’s Black on Both Sides I was not just deep in Black Star and Mos’ many amazing guest spots, but I was a reggae and soul-loving teenager too – steeped in Aretha Franklin and Gregory Isaacs.
It all came together when “Ms. Fat Booty” came on. A love story. Slick Rick style but not in Slick Rick’s style. And he set it to an Aretha sample. With a little Gregory Isaacs mixed into the middle to just what, wreck all of us when he sang that line?!
In Mos Def’s audiobook (Audible short book? podcast?) “A Dynamic Career in Communications” there’s an audio snippet that works through the samples of the track. There are some mixtapes and other places that it’s happened too (as I now know).
But the 20-year-in sucker punch to my 40-something head happens when the beat that was supposed to drop sees something else snuck in.
I found a live version so you can hear it too. I love a gift that keeps on giving like this. I love a fresh surprise that makes me drop a rake on a Sunday to run inside to find my fiancé declaring, “You won’t believe what I just heard.”
Here’s Mos’ jam, “Ms. Fat Booty.” Then, check out, “One Step Ahead” by Aretha Franklin, “If I Don’t Have You,” by Gregory Isaacs, and finally – this magical live version where he does the song over Dilla and Slum Villages, “Fall in Love.” That last one is the one that got me. It’s pure perfection.