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Black on Both Sides
Black on Both Sides.jpg
Studio album by Mos Def


October 12, 1999


October 1998 - July 1999


Sony Music Studios
(New York City, New York)
Chung King Studios
(Manhattan, New York)
D&D Studios
(New York City, New York)


East Coast hip hop, Alternative hip hop, Underground hip hop, Conscious hip hop




Rawkus Records / Priority Records


88-Keys, Ayatollah, D-Prosper, Diamond D, DJ Premier, DJ Etch-A-Sketch, Ge-ology, Weldon Irvine, David Kennedy, Mr. Khaliyl, Mos Def (also exec.), Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Psycho Les, Shaka (exec.)

Mos Def chronology


The New Danger (2004)

Black on Both Sides is the debut studio album by American rapper Mos Def, released in October 12, 1999 on Rawkus Records. Recording sessions took place at Sony Music Studios, Chung King Studios and D&D Studiosfrom October 1998 to July 1999. Production was handled by DJ Premier, 88-Keys, Diamond D, Ayatollah, Mr. Khaliyl, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, D-Prosper, Ge-ology, Psycho Les, and DJ Etch-A-Sketch, with co-production from Mos Def, David Kennedy and Weldon Irvine. It includes guest appearances by Q-Tip (of A Tribe Called Quest), Busta Rhymes, Talib Kweli and Vinia Mojica. Prior to the album's recording, Mos Def had collaborated with Talib Kweli as the duo Black Star and released the album Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star in 1998, which raised high expectations for a solo effort.

Black on Both Sides features an emphasis on live instrumentation and socially conscious lyrics. On February 2, 2000, the album was certified gold in sales by Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), following in sales in excess of 500,000 copies.

The album was both commercially and critically successful. It peaked at #25 on the Billboard 200, #3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts and #1 on the Top Rap Albums chart in the United States. Black on Both Sides spawned the singles: "Mathematics", "Umi Says" and "Ms. Fat Booty" (which made it to #54 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart). Music videos were created for the songs: "Ms. Fat Booty" and "Umi Says.

Black on Both Sides received universal acclaim from music critics and is often to be considered Mos Def's best solo album. 

Track listing[]

No. Title Performer(s) Writer(s) Producer(s) Time
1. "Fear Not of Man" Mos Def Smith Mos Def 4:28
2. "Hip Hop" Mos Def Kirkland, Smith Diamond D, Mos Def (co.) 3:16
3. "Love" Mos Def Njapa, Smith 88-Keys 4:23
4. "Ms. Fat Booty" Mos Def Dorell, Smith Ayatollah 3:43
5. "Speed Law" Mos Def Njapa, Smith 88-Keys 4:16
6. "Do It Now" Mos Def, Busta Rhymes Dillon, Smith, Smith Mr. Khaliyl 3:49
7. "Got" Mos Def Muhammad, Smith Ali Shaheed Muhammad 3:17
8. "UMI Says" Mos Def Kennedy, Smith Mos Def, David Kennedy (co.) 5:10
9. "New World Water" Mos Def Fernandez, Smith Psycho Les 3:11
10. "Rock n Roll" Mos Def Fernandez, Smith Psycho Les, Mos Def (co.) 5:02
11. "Know That" Mos Def, Talib Kweli Dorell, Greene, Smith Ayatollah 4:03
12. "Climb" Mos Def, Vinia Mojica Dunn, Erving, Smith Etch-A-Sketch, Mos Def (co.), Weldon Irvine (co.) 4:02
13. "Brooklyn" Mos Def Kennedy, Smith, Young Ge-ology, Mos Def (co.), David Kennedy (co.) 5:09
14. "Habitat" Mos Def Dunn, Irvine, Smith Etch-A-Sketch 4:39
15. "Mr. N***a" Mos Def, Q-Tip Davis, Prosper, Smith D-Prosper, Mos Def (co.) 5:12
16. "Mathematics" Mos Def Martin, Smith DJ Premier 4:06
17. "May-December" Mos Def Irvine, Njapa, Smith 88-Keys, Mos Def (co.) 3:29


Fear Not of Man

  • "Fear Not for Man" by Fela Kuti
  • "Morgenspaziergang" by Kraftwerk

Hip Hop

  • "Slow Dance" by Stanley Clarke
  • "The Warnings (Part II)" by David Axelrod


  • "Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy)" by Bill Evans Trio

Ms. Fat Booty

  • "One Step Ahead" by Aretha Franklin

Speed Law

  • "And That's Saying a Lot" by Christine McVie
  • "Promise Her Anything But Give Her Arpeggio" by Big Brother & the Holding Company

Do It Now

  • "Marcus Garvey" by Burning Spear

New World Water

  • "Josephina De Granada" by Dick Schory
  • "C.R.E.A.M." by Wu-Tang Clan

Rock N' Roll

  • "Memphis at Sunrise" by The Bar-Kays
  • "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" by Marvin Gaye
  • "Allustrious" by Mobb Deep

Know That

  • "Anyone Who Had a Heart" by Dionne Warwick
  • "Stop and Check Yourself" by Garnet Mimms


  • "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" by Milt Jackson
  • "We Live in Brooklyn, Baby" by Roy Ayers Ubiquity
  • "Who Shot Ya?" by The Notorious B.I.G.


Mr. N*!^a

  • "A Legend In His Own Mind" by Gil Scott-Heron
  • "Sun Goddess" by Ramsey Lewis
  • "Sucka N^%!a" by A Tribe Called Quest


  • "Baby I'm-a Want You" by The Fatback Band
  • "Funky Drummer" by James Brown
  • "Angela Davis Interviewed by Art Seigner" by Angela Davis
  • "Criminology" by Raekwon
  • "On and On" by Erykah Badu


  • "Jungle Jazz" by Kool & the Gang
  • "Rock Your Baby" by KC & the Sunshine Band