With the release of Magnificent Brilliance, the emcee/producer duo of Ekundayo & Spittzwell successfully hone in on the rootsy and raw promise that I (and probably many of you) prematurely heaped on Mos Def‘s/Yasiin Bey‘s True Magic album, as the pair navigate the artistic alleyways of the cerebral b-boy in a much more centered and fully fleshed out way than The Mighty Mos ever did on his arguably unfocused third album. That’s not to say that Ekundayo (the group’s spokesman) and Spittzwell (the group’s sound-provider) merely mimic and refine the style of the much adored Blackstar co-captain in some shiftless attempt to fill the void left in the wake of Mos‘/Yasiin‘s on-again/off-again retirement. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the duo create a pretty clear and singular lane for themselves on this ultra solid debut LP. Throughout Magnificent Brilliance, Ekundayo‘s even/odd rhyme style takes advantage of an infectious “start-stop-start again” cadence that swings and sways over Spittzwell‘s cinematic soul-jazz beats – creating an enjoyable Saul Williams-meets-Madlib sort of feel over the albums 33 minute run time. On the album opener, “True and Living”, Spittzwell creates a hauntingly melodic, “jazz at dusk” backdrop that takes a low-key left turn where most producers would’ve gone for a more uproarious intro while ‘dayo lays out the duo’s credo with undeniable cool. Later on in the LP, fellow Working Class Music Group trooper Boog Brown checks in on a sweepingly lush and starry-eyed ode to black love – surprisingly titled “Black Love” – and helps the brothers E & S revel in a well read journal of romantic musings and beautiful scenes. Other album highlights include the symphonic mind-float “Stay Upfull” (featuring Aleon Craft), a prog-ish, street theme called “The Road” (featuing Coach P), and a toast to the joys of living the herbal life called “Holding a Meds“. All name dropping aside, Magnificent Brilliance is just that – a magnificent and brilliant set that moves with a sense of purpose, that isn’t afraid to take the occasional side road along the way, and never allows itself get lost in the weeds.