Mos Def was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 11, 1973. He called on Hi-Tek when Black Star were seeking a producer for their album. What comes out is a surprising moral rectitude and religious focus.
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Brooklyn, NYC-based rapper of Trinidadian descent, Dante “Beze” Terrell Smith (better known simply as Mos Def) is also making a career as a Hollywood actor. These are deep questions in any field of endeavour, never mind from two guys effectively starting their journey in music. And so the album goes on, diverse yet cohesive, confident yet doubting, mellow yet hard-hitting, smiling yet sad, detailing the worst and finding positivity in it. Mos Def And Talib Kweli Are Black Star hit the shelves on 28 September 1988. Was it the best hip-hop album of its decade? That’s saying a lot. The best of its year? Probably. A lasting joy with depths that always deliver a nuance you never noticed? Most definitely.
Prior to his career in music, Mos Def entered public life as a child actor, having played roles in television movies , sitcoms and theater , some of which were under the name Dante Beze. 54 55 At the age of 14, he appeared in the TV movie God Bless the Child , starring Mare Winningham , which aired on ABC in 1988. 56 He played the oldest child in the 1990 family sitcom You Take the Kids shortly before it was cancelled. In 1995 he played the character Dante, Bill Cosby ‘s sidekick on the short-lived detective show, The Cosby Mysteries In 1996 he also starred in a Visa check card commercial featuring Deion Sanders In 1997 he had a small role alongside Michael Jackson in his short film and music video Ghosts (1997).
He did release new music from time to time, including albums such as The New Danger (2004), but his output was erratic and seemingly governed by whim. Mos Def nonetheless continued to draw attention, especially from critics and underground rap fans, and his classic breakthrough albums – Black Star (1998), a collaboration with Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek; and Black on Both Sides (1999), his solo debut – continued to be revered, all the more so as time marched forward. Mos Def often used his renown for political purposes, protesting in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Jena Six incident in 2007, for instance.
In 1998, Yasiin Bey formed the group Black Star with Talib Kweli and signed with Rawkus Records. The title is a reference to the Black Star Line, a shipping line founded by Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey. They released an album, Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star, to critical acclaim.
Yasiin Bey , formerly known as Mos Def , has been relatively quiet in the music scene since announcing his retirement in a Facebook live video in 2016. Yet he has continued to hint at music releases long after his retirement. In late December of 2016, the veteran rapper announced the title of two studio albums, Negus in Natural Person and As Promised. Now it seems his claims about the album Negus in Natural Person actually did come to fruition.
It’s 1998. Hip-hop is in crisis. Carry on as before and be destroyed, or forge a new path in which culture, intelligence and unity take precedence over beefs and disses, tribalism and chaos? The two previous years had seen the murders of two icons of the music, both young leaders that fans looked up to. Those fans needed heroes to follow, and a lifestyle to emulate, perhaps. But the lifestyles of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls had ultimately led nowhere. They were admired – worshipped, even – and had achieved much in short lifetimes. But they were martyrs to what? These voices were assumed to be representing their generation, but the way they represented it was grim: like so many other young black males in America, they saw the inside of prison cells and died in senseless street violence. It was time for a change of direction. Such things were among the concerns of Mos Def and Talib Kewli when they began recording together. They were Black Star.
The New Danger was released not long after Rawkus changed distributors, which may have stifled some of the promotion needed for such a wide-eyed, genre-blurring LP. In full transparency, I’m a bit partial to The New Danger, as my first date with the love of my life was on this album’s promotional tour. But as sentimental as the LP may be in my home, even I can admit that there were some moments of ring-rust for the champion who took a full five-year layoff between projects. Mos’ boundless skillset, for a moment, made him the Sammy Davis Jr. for my generation, but perhaps also muted his full mastery of album construction.
One of rap’s most enigmatic figures then and now, think of Smith like Jack White , an artist who loves history so much he has to mess with it. But where White channels his ideas into paradoxical analog gadgetry, Mos Def sang the praises of Nina Simone on a song that turns into barreling hardcore punk. This was 20 years ago, long before Lil Peep sampled emo songs or Travis Barker grafted drums onto XXXTentacion tracks. “Rock N Roll” didn’t really make a show of itself either; the late ’90s were so self-consciously eclectic that it was just a matter of fact that Lauryn Hill , Missy Elliott and Andre 3000 were beginning to cut their rhymes with straight-up singing. That’s the environment Black On Both Sides was born into, and it was the most nonchalant of all, partly because when Mos Def sang, it didn’t sound like he was doing it for a hit.
True Magic Two years later, after a few more acting roles – including the Golden Globe-winning Lackawanna Blues and the Emmy-winning Something the Lord Made, both of which were made-for-television movies – Mos Def released his third solo album, True Magic (2006). A contract-fulfilling release for Geffen, which had absorbed Rawkus years prior, the album trickled out in a small run during the last week of 2006. Bizarrely, the disc came with no artwork and was sold in a clear plastic case – though its single, “Undeniable,” did manage to grab a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance. The Ecstatic, released on the Universal-distributed Downtown label, followed in June 2009; at that point, Mos Def had significant acting roles in Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind (in which he co-starred with Jack Black) and Cadillac Records (he played Chuck Berry).
More important than the relationship between Mos’ vocals and the sounds surrounding them, the production subtly enhances the motif of blackness. Peep this list of samples and tell me it’s not one of the most melanated things you’ve ever heard: Fear Not For Man” by Fela Kuti (on Fear Not Of Man”), One Step” by Aretha Franklin (on Ms. Fat Booty”), Anyone Who Had A Heart” by Dionne Warwick (on Know That”), A Legend In His Own Mind” by Gil-Scott Heron (on Mr. Nigga”), We Live In Brooklyn” by Roy Ayers (on none other than Brooklyn”), Angela Davis’ interview with Art Seigner (on Mathematics”), James Brown’s classic Funky Drummer” break (also on Mathematics”), and On And On” by Erykah Badu (again on Mathematics”).
Yasiin Bey, who was detained last week for attempting to leave South Africa with an unrecognised passport, has announced that his retirement from the music and film industries is effective immediately” after the release of his final album later this year.
It’s not hard to see why the album grew on listeners. Black On Both Sides possesses a wonderful depth and breadth in the midst of a rhyme clinic with a steady current of blackness and Brooklyn as its lifeblood. The man either says, spells, or alludes to Brooklyn over 35 times on the album collectively, and does so 19 times on the track Brooklyn” alone. The constant shoutouts don’t feel like overkill because he roams so far away home in the number of topics he touches on.
Negus was recorded in London in 2015, prior to the rapper’s alleged retirement. The album name is a reference to a royal title Ethiopian Semitic languages. Since the album’s recording, Bey knew he wanted it to be released in an artistic context. During the listening session at Art Basel, Bey took Polaroid photos of the listener’s reactions. Attendees had the option to purchase their photo as a souvenir of the event.
In addition to his acting credits Mos has served as the host, music supervisor and co executive producer for the HBO series Def Poetry, which returned for its sixth season in 2007. Def has also served as a writer, producer and actor on the MTV sketch comedy series Lyricist Lounge.
As the 17 tracks unwound into a journey, Mos let the listener know that he was upholding tradition. Love” traces the genesis back 16 years to Mr. Magic’s Rap Attack and other seminal radio shows in the five boroughs. The Ali Shaheed Muhammad-produced cautionary tale Got” and the Q-Tip-assisted Mr. Ngga” continued Tribe’s vibe the year after that group disbanded. Mathematics” employed a numeral concept on exponentially-dope DJ Premier production. Mos showed his influenced and made songs in their likeness, from Gang Starr to A.T.C.Q to Leaders Of The New School.
That Native Tongues tie would lead to him showing the world much more of what he could do alongside fellow crew member and Brooklynite Talib Kweli on Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star in 1998. From Brooklyn to Africa it was hard to find someone tapped into rap that wouldn’t respond to One, two, three… ” with Mos Def and Talib Kweli-i-i!” The perfect pairing established both as firmly local, but worldly MCs with head-spinning rhyming abilities. The album only hit #53 at its peak position on the charts, but it was critically beloved and caught the attention of the zeitgeist. Even so: Despite the buzz, there were still doubts about how the mighty Mos would perform commercially and fit into the changing landscape of the mainstream.
In April 2008, he appeared on the title track for a new album by The Roots entitled Rising Down The new single, “Life In Marvelous Times”, was made officially available through iTunes on November 4, 2008, and is available for stream on the Roots’ website Okayplayer.
Great venue at HOB, as always. Really fun and dynamic opening acts at the Mos Def show in May. Unfortunately, Mos Def either showed up late or just decided to start an hour after the 2nd opening act. The packed crowd even started to boo during the wait. When he finally started his set, he made no mention of the long wait and barely acknowledged the crowd. Of course, the music and his performance were solid but by then it was too late. His lateness and detachment made him come off like a wannabe star which is a shame because the dude is one of the most talented artists working today.
The Guardian (-def-force-fed-guantanamo-bay-video) published a video on July 8 of Yasiin Bey, also known as Mos Def demonstrating force-feeding procedures at Guantanamo Bay. The New Danger is unlike any other hip-hop album. Which shouldn’t come as a major surprise because Mos Def , now going by the name Yasiin Bey, has always been an artist who defied convention.
Also known as Yasiin Bey since he handed his old name Mos Def to TV pundit Stephen Colbert after appearing on his TV show “The Colbert Report”. American hip hop artist Yasiin Bey, known as Mos Def, will be back in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court for allegedly contravening South Africa’s immigration laws.
Free Richardson and Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def). Mos Def is a critically-acclaimed rapper, actor, and activist. He has strong feelings about breakfast and the word “shortie.” LEARN MORE 247 Townhall. Mos Def also collaborated with Kanye West on West’s track named two words” and appeared in the music video.
In September 2011, Mos Def announced that he planned to use the name Yasiin instead of Mos Def beginning in 2012. In January 2012, it was reported that Mos Def and Talib Kweli had begun “to resurrect” Black Star.