A few admissions to start things off: I think Blade 2 is an awesome movie. I think Mighty Mos Def is generally pretty tight. I’ve never listened to a single Massive Attack song. Other than “I Against I.”
Featured on the Blade 2 soundtrack and prominently in one of the film’s fine action sequences, “I Against I” doesn’t sound like a typical Mos Def track. Regardless, there are few songs that get me more pumped up than this one (“Narayan” by the Prodigy is probably the only comparable track in the adrenaline department). Even though “I Against I” is seven years old at this point, it stills sounds fresh. Massive Attack’s sparse, robotic beat and Mos’ confrontational lyrics evoke images of a futuristic battleground. This beat always makes me think of black and silver, robots crushing humans.
Even though Mos is generally aligned with Native Tongues/Golden Era revivalism and “conscious” Hip Hop, he’s really a stylistic maverick whose best work comes in the most unexpected spots (The New Danger is still one of the most overlooked albums of the last ten years and this year’s The Ecstatic is an entrancing, if occasionally undercooked, journey through some of the world’s most interesting sounds).
This track is definitely worth a few spins on the treadmill or in the post apocalyptic war zone, your choice.