Mos Def names his favourite artists of all time
(Credit: Muvikui)


Mos Def names his favourite artists of all time

Mos Def was one of hip-hop’s most formidable MCs. The Brooklyn native rose up during the 1990s as a socially conscious, politically engaged lyricist who burst onto the New York underground during the mid-1990s. The potent rapper surfaced as a member of the short-lived crew Urban Thermo Dynamics. 

However, his talent was noticed, and as a solo act, he appeared on projects by groups such as Da Bush Babees and De La Soul. During the late 1990s, he teamed up with fellow Brooklyn native Talib Kweli and formed Black Star. A conscious rap collective that explicitly dealt with issues including police brutality, political corruption and the mistreatment of African-Americans.

Although the duo were highly popular, the industry did not welcome Black Star as the issues addressed in their material were highly contentious and too controversial for commercial release. As the two pursued solo careers, Talib Kweli began to find some success with the help of beats from Kanye West.

Mos Def also found some success. However, some of his songs were so inflammatory that they caused tension with his record label. Def’s 1999 debut album, Black On Both Sides, peaked at number 25 on the Billboard 200. However, his sophomore project, The New Danger, was far more successful, peaking at number five.

However, the track ‘The Rape Over’, which references Def Jam executive Lyor Cohen was removed from his album due to its perceived anti-semitic content. The following year, the rapper got arrested for performing his song ‘Katrina Clap’ on top of a car outside the VMA’s. The song was a diss track aimed at President George W. Bush and his handling of the 2005 New Orleans hurricane.

Mos Def continued releasing music, but only to his cult fanbase, and in 2012, after converting to Islam, he legally changed his name to Yasiin Bey. In 2013, due to his disdain for the US, Bey moved his family to South Africa, where he stayed for over half a decade. 

In 2017, he returned to the US but revealed he was retiring from music. In 2020, Ari Melber interviewed the mystical Bey about his life and his favourite artists. Below you can see a list of Mos Def’s favourite musicians of all time. 

Mos Def names his favourite artists of all time:

  • Kendrick Lamar
  • JPEGMafia
  • Kelsey Lu
  • Blood Orange
  • Robert Glasper
  • Eubie Blake
  • The Tony Williams Lifetime
  • Emahoy Maryam