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Mos Def

Initially regarded as one of the most promising rappers to emerge in the late '90s, Mos Def, aka Yasiin Bey, turned to acting in subsequent years as music became a secondary concern for him. 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.

Born Dante Terrell Smith Bey on December 11, 1973, in New York City's Brooklyn borough, Mos Def began rapping at age nine and began professionally acting at age 14, when he appeared in a TV movie. After high school, he began acting in a variety of television roles, most notably appearing in 1994 on a short-lived Bill Cosby series, The Cosby Mysteries. In 1994, Mos Def formed the rap group Urban Thermo Dynamics with his younger brother and sister, and signed a recording deal with Payday Records that didn't amount to much. In 1996, his solo career was launched with a pair of high-profile guest features on De La Soul's "Big Brother Beat" and Da Bush Babees' "S.O.S." A year later, in 1997, Mos Def released his debut single, "Universal Magnetic," on Royalty Records, and it became an underground rap hit. This led to a recording contract with Rawkus Records, which was just getting off the ground at the time, and he began working on a full-length album with like-minded rapper Talib Kweli and producer Hi-Tek. The resulting album, Black Star (1998), became one of the most celebrated rap albums of its time. A year later came Mos Def's solo album, Black on Both Sides, and it inspired further attention and praise. Yet, aside from appearances on the Rawkus compilation series Lyricist Lounge and Soundbombing, no follow-up recordings were forthcoming, as the up-and-coming rapper turned his attention elsewhere, away from music.

During the early 2000s, Mos Def acted in several films (Monster's Ball, Bamboozled, Brown Sugar, The Woodsman) and even spent some time on Broadway (in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Topdog/Underdog). He simultaneously worked on the Black Jack Johnson project with several iconic black musicians: keyboardist Bernie Worrell, guitarist Dr. Know, drummer Will Calhoun, and bassist Doug Wimbish. This project aimed to reclaim rock music, especially the rap-rock hybrid, from such artists as Limp Bizkit, who Mos Def openly despised. Mos Def hoped to infuse the rock world with his all-black band, and during the early 2000s, he performed several small shows with his band around the New York area. In October 2004, he finally delivered a second solo album, The New Danger, which involved Black Jack Johnson on a few tracks.

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. Released on the Universal-distributed Downtown label, The Ecstatic 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). The Ecstatic nabbed another Grammy nomination. Throughout the next few years, he lengthened his acting résumé and contributed to Gorillaz' Plastic Beach, Robert Glasper Experiment's Grammy-winning Black Radio, and A$AP Rocky's At. Long. Last. A$AP, among other albums. In January 2016, he made an announcement through Kanye West's website; after he disputed a recent arrest in South Africa for breaking an immigration law, he declared his retirement from the entertainment industry and the forthcoming release of his final album, due later in the year. ~ Jason Birchmeier
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Ecstatic

1. Supermagic

2. Twilite Speedball

3. Auditorium

4. Wahid

5. Priority

6. Quiet Dog Bite Hard

7. Life In Marvelous Times

8. Embassy

9. No Hay Nada Mas

10. Pistola

11. Pretty Dancer

12. Workers Comp

13. Revelations

14. Roses

15. History

16. Casa Bey

x

Track List: True Magic (Explicit)

1. True Magic

2. Undeniable

3. U R The One

4. Thug Is A Drug

5. Crime & Medicine

6. Aha

7. Dollar Day

8. Napoleon Dynamite

9. There Is A Way

10. Sun, Moon, Stars

11. Murder Of A Teenage Life

12. Fake Bonanza

13. Perfect Timing

14. Lifetime

x

Track List: The New Danger (Explicit)

1. The Boogie Man Song

2. Freaky Black Greetings

3. Ghetto Rock

4. Zimzallabim

5. The Rape Over

6. Blue Black Jack

7. Bedstuy Parade & Funeral March

8. Sex, Love & Money

9. Sunshine

10. Close Edge

11. The Panties

12. War

13. Grown Man Business (Fresh Vintage Bottles)

14. Modern Marvel

15. Life Is Real

16. The Easy Spell

17. The Beggar

18. Champion Requiem

x

Track List: Black On Both Sides (Edited)

1. Fear Not Of Man

2. Hip Hop

3. Love

4. Ms. Fat Booty

5. Speed Law

7. Got

8. Umi Says

9. New World Water

10. Rock N Roll

13. Brooklyn

14. Habitat

16. Mathematics

17. May-December

x

Track List: Black On Both Sides (Explicit)

1. Fear Not Of Man

2. Hip Hop

3. Love

4. Ms. Fat Booty

5. Speed Law

6. Do It Now

7. Got

8. Umi Says

9. New World Water

10. Rock N Roll

11. Know That

12. Climb

13. Brooklyn

14. Habitat

15. Mr. N**ga

16. Mathematics

17. May December

Comments

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Love the beauty in the dark song.
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Cold
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michaelrocks 6 8
Mos Def,
That's a chant I can't go for that,
You and Malcolm X get dogged,
Like Allah did to Mohammed desire to die in battle never granted,
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When and where can I find some new yasiin beey?
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Def music is an explosion of black sinfulness the mirror of the inner self
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Dey flowin
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I
❤ MOS DEF
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charmania1
It's bomb
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dope artist
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Where can I find "Very Well" and did "War" with Pharoahe ever officially come out?!
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❤️
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Good actor and dope mc.
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Legend
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8thgradescho o l a n d w o r k 8 3 6 0 0 p p 8 u I 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 j j i n up 7
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RcRc f fb 3wrwwwwww3
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a criminal talking about the race card. Now THAT is laughable.
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CHICAGO Shhhh...
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Always liked Mos Def, but reading bio, did not know he was involved with the Jena 6 stuff back then. I was locked up right where that happened, and all you Al Sharpton wanna-be, racists people out there know if that was 6 white kids beating one black kid (no matter why) it would have been handled by all the same black media raising as much hell, just siding with the victim instead of trying to get 6 guilty people off charges by pulling the race card.
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Always like Mos Def, but did not know he was involved with the Jena 6 stuff back then. I was locked up right where that happened, and all you Al Sharpton wanna-be, racists people out there know if that was 6 white kids beating one black kid (no matter why) it would have been handled by all the same black media raising as much hell, just siding with the victim instead of trying to get 6 guilty people off charges by pulling the race card.
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I've always Loved this Classic jam with The Mighty Mighty Mos Def aka Black Donte doing his thing on this gem from back in the day!
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Legend
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I been feeling Mos. Reach that level of consciousnes s . RBG
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This cat is "Mos Def"! Thanks for real rap and hip hop. None of the trash rap. Thanks.
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thaundergrou n d k i n g k n o w l e d g e
COLDDKYLLATH U G S H Y T - { R o m e K o l i AkA RomeKnowledg e O f S e l f } \ { T H A S!ΩG£ KΩθ₩L£DG£RθM £ } & DA ALBUM {USA!D5!!!!! IT W!LL ALWA¥Z B£ Dθ₩ΩFALLHAT£ R Z } . . . . .
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Been watchin n listen keep it up Ms Chay
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����
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Classic Mos Def, why is he still underrated still??
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amcarroll103
Don'т read тнιѕ. Yoυ wιll вe ĸιѕѕed on тнe neareѕт poѕѕιвle Frιday вy тнe love oғ yoυr lιғe. Toмorrow wιll вe тнe вeѕт day oғ yoυr
Lιғe. Don'т ѕтop тнιѕ ιѕ ғreaĸy! Bυт ιғ υ read тнιѕ and ιgnore ιт yoυ wιll geт вad lυcĸ. Pυт тнιѕ on 15 ѕongѕ ιn 143 мιnυтeѕ. Wнen yoυ are done preѕѕ тнe ѕpace вar and yoυr crυѕнeѕ naмe wιll appear ιn вιg leттerѕ on тнe ѕcreen. Tнιѕ ιѕ ѕo creppy вecaυѕe ιт acтυally worĸѕ.
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chaynexxx21
Ill as s**t mos def to underrated, in she came...
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Yes yevgeny24 one of my favorite. Mos Def is the man.
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altetly
What a terrible review. This is PANDORA! IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT MUSIC!!!
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Man Rawkus was ill. Had their piece of the 90s.
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Review is geared toward making him look whack.
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RBG. I admire this King. Long live Y. Bey aka Mos Def.
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I am guessing the album cover for The Ecstatic is a nod to Femi Kuti's Fight To Win album. Fun fact: Mos appears on the song 'Do Your Best.'
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No1 in it
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No one better. Makes Kanye look amateurish at best.
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Mine:)
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Mos def was funny on.Italian job. Left ear lol
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They forgot to mention mos def was in the movie Ray...he was chuck berry
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The "Corner " from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles. Real life, shoes, new clothes, old tricks, new idea, money, GD's , Vice Lords, arms, our music, times , every city block and kids are waiting to cross the street and Ole ladies waiting for the bullies, -" THE CORNER"!
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1999 gave us "black on both sides" and "both sides of the brain" both classics-a year later 3030 hit.
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I'm homo
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altetly
Just the first paragraph really sucks!
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altetly
Terrible biography, dude should be fired!
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Mos def is still the man.
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Mos to the Def son!
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Peace & Love Brotha Bey
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Let him back in the country!!!
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you know they know what it is. you know they know what it is , they know what it is.
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