Missing in action from: 1999-2004
Why the delay? At the turn of the century, Mos Def emerged as one of hip-hop's most creative forces. He dropped two classics in two years: His 1998 collaborative effort with Talib Kweli, Black Star, and his 1999 solo debut, Black On Both Sides. But in the early 2000s, dude's label home (Rawkus) went bankrupt, he got shipped off to Geffen, and he expressed more interest in acting than in rapping. In 2004, he finally dropped the messy follow-up The New Danger, which clumsily tried to mesh hip-hop with rock, jazz, and other genres.
Complex says: Lucky for us all, Mos dropped The Ecstatic last year, a strong record and a return to form for him. Thank goodness, because after The New Danger and True Magic, Mos had become the first rapper since Will Smith who we'd rather have seen act than rap.