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Mos Def

Initially regarded as one of the most promising rappers to emerge in the late '90s, Mos Def 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 on December 11, 1973, in Brooklyn, NY, 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 (the Pulitzer Prize-winning Topdog/Underdog). He simultaneously worked on the Black Jack Johnson project with several iconic black musicians: keyboardist Bernie Worrell (Parliament/Funkadelic), guitarist Dr. Know (Bad Brains), drummer Will Calhoun (Living Colour), and bassist Doug Wimbish (the Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, Living Colour). This project aimed to reclaim rock music, especially the rap-rock hybrid, from such artists as Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst, who Mos Def openly despised. What made Black Jack Johnson so anticipated though was not so much the supergroup roster of musicians or even Mos Def himself, but rather the lack of black rock bands. Following the demise of Living Colour, there were few, if any, that had attained substantial success. 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. 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). ~ Jason Birchmeier, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

BEYOND PLEASE DO MORE

This that Fiya!
Super DOPE
nicko252008
Lately his voice has annoyed me...
The Mighty!
yesh!
This s**t never fails to please me
keithwideman 0 6
Good business
BROOKLYN.
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works
Mos...know what time it is...Lil queezy, nicki minaj...got some 'Heart' punk a** b**ches
haha
lol mos looks cross eyed and retarded lookin on his album cover with a 5 head
Nice
Umi says shine your light on the worlddddddd! ! ! ! !
Yasiin Bey, thank you!
So many numbers. It rings mostly true though.
Love him!
Always a pleasure to hear are see mos def,a truly gifted artist.
Exactly! Thank You leah.bristol 2 6
Nice!!!!
Miss FAT BOOTY
gd actr2
leah.bristol 2 6
This bio is kind of cracking me up, because it seems at times to not really want to give Mos the acclaim that he deserves. Someone who can channel their creative energy into several outlets we call them a Renaissance Man. Just because he has decided to do his albums on a whim does not make him any less brilliant; in fact it makes him just that--Brilli a n t . He takes his music seriously and always delivers a solid work. Black on Both Sides is one of the best hip hop albums of all time--period .
leah.bristol 2 6
This bio has a very negative tone to it. At times it seems like you don' even want to give him the praise that he deserves. Yes, he has done acting as well as his hip-hop career. IMO, doing albums on a whim is just a testament to his brilliance. Initially regarded as promising? The man is one of the BEST, give it UP!
josuna
one of the illest cats ever
Dat dude!!!!
One of the best artists in rap music history
Love Mos Def!!!
peebles23
I Love this MAN!!!!!! He is simply amazing!
The MIGHTY!!!! MOS
Real s**t
REAL HIP HOP!!!! MIGHTY MUDA F**KING MOS DEF!!!!!!!
My favorite mos fef jam
: )
He snatched this beat
mstee73



Pppppppppppp p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p t e l : 8 7 4 3 5 7 5 1 6 2
I'm in love with his words, with the stories he tells, with the passion that he has for hip hoppppppp.
He is mos def
He can suck my weiner anyday of the week
One of the best lyricists
Some tight tracks Mos Def. Keep them coming.
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you have started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works
doesn't mention 16 Blocks...whi c h is what I like him from..or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy...
Funky fresh
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you have started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works
Dope track!
yasiin bey keep setting fire to yo rain the best rapper of all time spit that real s**t none of that pop the bubble gum wrapper s**t yall better know mos is the all time ultimate threat yall faker better watch ya back like yall watch tv hes multi talented all geres hes coming just like jesus is coming back u better be ready yours truly one love the ultimate mos def fan to walk Gods earth
Ixie!!!
SO SLEPT ON! FOLLOW me I follow back @Bootsy704 (twitter/IG)
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