When it comes to lyricism, flow, and range, Yasiin Bey, previously known as Mos Def, stands among the elite. Whether using his pocket perfect laid-back delivery to offset the staccato punch of Talib Kweli on the absolutely iconic hip hop album Black on Both Sides, or weaving the story of a femme fatal and star-crossed lover on Ms. Fat Booty, few have done it as well, and arguably none have done it better.
Having made his entertainment start as a
child actor, Bey came to prominence when he teamed up with Kweli as Black Star. Hi-Tek’s production on Respiration and Definition gave space for his flow to fill the tracks, which he adeptly pulled off. The album
also featured Bey showing his vocal chops on Umi Says, a timeless black consciousness song. New World Water demonstrated his ability to invert a hefty political topic into an easy listen without losing the gravitas.
His freestyle of Close Edge on the Chappelle Show introduced him to an even greater audience. My personal favorite track of Mos is the Afro beat-driven Quiet Dog Bite Hard.
Bey is also known for his years hosting
and often performing on Def Poetry Jam. He was also lauded for his outstanding
film performances in Something the Lord Made, 16 Blocks, and NeoSoulCypher Founder Ray Ferrell’s favorite Bey film, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Celebrate our artist of the Week, fka Mos Def, aka the Black Dante nka Yasiin Bey.