Yasiin Bey, the artist formerly known as Mos Def, supposedly played his “last” shows not too long ago, but for someone who’s supposed to be retired, he’s stolen the hip-hop media spotlight with another memorable public appearance. The veteran rapper stopped by Ebro In The Morning on New York’s Hot 97 and proceeded to drop some knowledge and wisdom on everything from traveling the world to the state of politics in different parts of the world to the changes, for better or for worse, that have molded the current hip-hop culture into what it is today.
“You know, it’s not all doom and gloom,” said Bey when asked about the changing global landscape, especially when considering the economic transformation that has been drastic over the last few years in so many cities around the world. “If you watch the news, or the popular media, as a primary source for information, your worldview might be very fear-based […] The first response to fear is the cathartic expression of consumerism, so when people get too nervous, they’ve got to offload it in some way.” In part, he adds that that is what the entertainment industry is all about, and in terms of straight economics, he’s not wrong.
Later on, Bey starts questioning why some of hip-hop’s brightest stars, like André 3000 or Jay-Z, are distancing themselves from the music and whether or not that has to do with the noticeable change within the industry. “Even Jay, he laid back for three or four years and got into a whole other thing before this 4:44 thing came out. So why is it that all these cats is like, ‘Hmm…’ What’s up with the structure around our culture, which is unique to any other thing that’s happening in the world before or since it?” said Bey. “Why we not hearing these voices? Why people don’t wanna engage the industries like that? It’s a very good question.” He then leaned into the incessant rap beefs and how he’s not super down with any of the rap music coming out these days. “How are people even supposed to focus on your s**t when it’s eleventy million n****s that got new s**t out every day? I can’t listen to all these n****s. I got s**t to do,” he explained. “I’m not sitting here… I’m not listening to all these n****s. Why? I could just listen to already made n****s, the s**t that gets better with time.”
Late last week, a short video recording of a charged up Yasiin Bey (pun intended) threatening to take all rapper’s lunch money went viral and now the 41-year-old multi-talent is alleging it was all said in jest.
“It was a private opinion made public,” Mos continued. “Without my knowledge or permission or consent.” [Editor’s Note: As if you didn’t think ranting into a recording camera phone wouldn’t make its way onto the Internet.] “I stand by my statement, but at the same time, I’m not trying to arrange some sort of exhibition of that reality, whatever.
Back in 2009, Bey issued an open challenge to rappers to come together and battle it out to defend these same claims—if a rapper wanted to be called the best, they would have the platform to finally prove it. He had proposed the idea to have a full head-to-head battle that would include a battle of the MCs, as well as the DJs and producers.
Unfortunately, his original plan never materialized, but it seems like he hasn’t given up on the idea just yet. With all of these diss tracks floating around lately, rappers have puffing up their chests and talking slick. So it only seems right for Yasiin Bey to reissue this rap battle challenge, because he’s not here for all of these “back and forth corny records.” Bey enlisted Black Thought of The Roots and King Los for his crew and sounds ready to battle whoever is up for the challenge.
King Los immediately responded, admitting that he’s always ready to battle. Lupe Fiasco took to his Facebook to accept the challenge, all while keeping with the current meme response trend.
Yasiin Bey, the rapper-actor-activist formerly known as Mos Def, is now trying his hand at standup comedy. Yasiin Bey made his debut as a stand-up comic at a Montreal club. Bey’s inagural routine was billed as “Happy Birthday! Shut Up” at the Phi Centre in Montreal.
“My dream had been to do stand-up comedy, and I’m sitting down,” he said during the performance. “Don’t I look like I’m living my dream? I’m here living my dream, and I look like Tyler on the cover of that album.”said Bey.
Listed below are a few of his jokes:
“I love hip hop, (but) ‘rap’ is like if Donald Trump were black,” he reportedly ad-libbed during his warm-up.
On Drake and Meek Mill‘s ongoing beef: “The male ego is a boring place.”
Of Kanye‘s reported Pan-Am Games performance: “He threw that mic in the air so hard it never came down. I was talking to El-P from Run the Jewels the other day and he said it turned into a bird.”
Yasiin Bey revealed that he’s a permanent resident of South Africa.
Bey says he loves the energy the people and city gives him on a daily basis.
“Last year May, I came [to Cape Town] and I said I’m not leaving. I’m staying. It’s a beautiful place,” he explained. “It has the ocean, mountain, botanical gardens and beautiful people.”
“There are some beautiful places in America. I love Brooklyn,” he added. “New York City needs to thank Brooklyn every day just for existing. That’s how I feel about it. It was a hard thing to leave home. But I’m glad I did.”