It opens with cartoonish distortion over a recording of a flight captain making an announcement to the passengers in his cabin. Mos Def is playfully provocative on The Embassy.
The intercom goes from “This is your Captain Speaking with just a little inflight information…” to “…Capable of blowing a hole in human bone and flesh the size of the Grand Canyon” in a mere moment. Before the song has even played a note you can hear significant portions of America shifting in their seats.
In slides a Middle Eastern backing track with Mos rapping about a diplomatic work life.
“Mentioned that he worked for the embassy, people seem to find that interesting
high status, intrigue and mystery, special code name on the hotel registry”
As the oud strings meld with bass lines and break beats you can imagine a whole other section of the USA feeling uncomfortable. This worldly rap view is outside of the comfort zone for many a westerner. Matched with ‘Sand people’ music it’s positively outrageous.
Def doesn’t get particularly political on the track. He’s more interested in giving us a peek behind the curtain of the privileged world of the diplomat than he is discussing policy.
“I love it when they say, ‘Enjoy your stay’ you see how they mean it ’cause that’s the way they’ve been trained”
By going there without addressing that he’s going there, Mos Def challenges the listener to think first about ‘Merica and guns, then to listen to him flow over Arabian sounds about luxury and fine living.
“I work with the embassy, on behalf of imagination industry, I come visit, you come visit, such a pleasure official business”
The Embassy is a slight track on Def’s fantastic 2009 album The Ecstatic (intro not withstanding it’s under two minutes long) but it gets a lot done.