“Hip-hop was a funny thing for me. In the ‘90s, Tupac was the biggest thing, but I kind of missed that boat. I was there, but I wasn’t paying attention. The things that got me instantly about hip-hop were A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul. I liked it when the focus was on lyrical wordplay. I also liked it when there was an awareness of the culture that came before you.
“Coming into the late ‘90s and early 2000s with that kind of appreciation for hip-hop, Black On Both Sides was an explosion to me. If there’s such a thing as backpacker hip-hop music, this is the best album ever in that way.
“It’s a little crazy that Mos Def isn’t so well known as an MC anymore; I think everybody knows him as an actor – and he’s a great actor, as well. He’s one of those guys who is just unfairly talented. But, man, is this record good. I respect the hell out of anybody who can craft a pop song that makes you think. He’s got a lot of songs like that on this record. I know every word to it, so there you go.”