The Ecstatic was titled after Victor LaValle's 2002 dark humor novel. One of Mos Def's favorite novels, it was written about an overweight college dropout who fell into mental illness while living with his eccentric family in Queens, New York. According to Mos Def, the phrase \"the ecstatic\" was \"used in the 17th and 18th centuries to describe people who were either mad or divinely inspired and consequently dismissed as kooks\". The phrase resonated with him, as he believed no one else in hip hop had ever recorded an album like The Ecstatic. \"I feel like I was the only person who was capable of making this type of music in this type of way\", he claimed. \"I don't rap like nobody, I don't try to sound like nobody.\" He said \"the ecstatic\" also refers to \"a type of devotional energy, an impossible dream that becomes reality but is discredited before it's realized. The airplane, a nutty idea. The telephone, the Internet. People who envisioned those were considered radical or extreme.\"
In The New Yorker, The Ecstatic was hailed as Mos Def's \"most conceptually knotty and ambitious work\", while Aaron wrote in Spin that the \"internationalist return to form\" is also \"perhaps his liveliest work\". For The Irish Times, Jim Carroll said the rapper has not performed this engagingly or skillfully since his career beginnings, highlighting especially \"Supermagic\" and \"Life in Marvelous Times\". Mick Middles from The Quietus appraised it as \"the joyful sound of a rampant artist, unrestrained by expectation or commercialism\", with free-flowing music that escapes the boundaries his previous albums had merely pushed. Ben Thompson, in The Observer, believed the diverse range of samples make it \"a crate-digger's wet dream\" and \"a thrillingly accessible demonstration of hip-hop's limitless creative possibilities\" to a layperson. Writing for MSN Music, Christgau felt the songs are \"devoid of hooks but full of sounds you want to hear again\", along with \"thoughtfully slurred\" yet intelligible lyrics by Mos Def, whose creative vision warrants the introductory Malcolm X sample. In the opinion of Time's Josh Tyrangiel, his political meditations may not appeal to conservatives but are rich in \"the rhythm, exuberance and wit Mos Def showed on his early records\". Steve Jones of USA Today said his reflections on politics, love, religion, and societal conditions are full of insight and sincerity while calling the album his strongest effort. 1e1e36bf2d