"Since last August, explaining the retirement of 'the mighty Mos Def' has been part of both his solo performances and the tour with Kweli. It's Kweli, along with Kanye West, who is a friend, whom Bey credits with helping him make the decision to proceed in his career without what now strikes him as the 'artifice' of a 'nom de plume.' (It’s worth pointing out that Kweli, which in Swahili means 'true,' is actually the middle name of Talib Greene—so while Talib Kweli isn’t a nom de plume, exactly, he does consider it a stage name.) It hasn’t always been easy. Responding to the Alaskan crowd’s disappointment, Bey reacted like [...]
Today's Rap Radar posts two Current TV clips of Mos Def in Japan. (One here, one below.) Mos performs the songs "Auditorium" and "Quiet Dog" from his The Ecstatic album, analyzes Japanese society during a taxi trip through Tokyo, goes to a sumo wrestling bout, and falls deeply in love with a blue leather jacket that his brother describes as looking like "a gay Ninja Turtle." Like pretty much everything that Mos Def does these days, it is all highly enjoyable.
At a performance last August, the deliberate and sharply dressed emcee, who is also well known as an actor, announced his “official transition” to a huge audience gathered in the parking lot of a popular pub and pizzeria in Anchorage, Alaska: “My professional name will be my chosen and my legal name, which is Yasiin Bey. … And I don’t want to have to wait for it to be in Source or Vibe or someplace. I figure, we’re all here. We can see each other.” And then he spelled it out for them: “Y-A-S-I-I-N, first name. Last name: B-E-Y.”
When a few Alaskans made some disapproving noises, Bey responded, [...]
You knew Mos Def could rap, and act, and argue foreign affairs with Christopher Hitchens and Salman Rushdie. (Did you know that? If not, check this clip from Real Time With Bill Maher.) And did you know he could sing? Here he is giving tribute to Michael Jackson-something Rap Radar's Elliott Wilson notes is currently "Mandatory. End of story."-on a cover of "Billie Jean." He's subtle in striking the iconic poses, and in his moonwalk, and he lets the crowd at Chicago's House of Blues take the high parts. And there's a real sadness in his reggae-tinged lilt. You can think of lots of way someone [...]
The video for Raekwon's "Surgical Gloves" is not as excellent as the ones for "Catalina" and "Walk With Me," but it's not terrible, in its raw surveillance-camera monochromaticism. And the song is strong. Shame the Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 album wasn't among the Grammy nominations that just came out. (Like that could ever happen.) Nice to see Mos Def up there, though. And twice: for best rap solo performance with "Casa Bey" and best rap album with The Ecstatic.