If there was ever a Renaissance man within Hip Hop it would no doubt be Mos Def. Here’s a man who does it all. He’s an incredible rapper, one of the best to come along in the past 10-15 years. He’s a talented singer who’s left his mark with songs ‘Umi Says’ off the ‘Black on Both Sides‘ album which pays homage to his mother and ‘Kalifornia’ off the Biker Boyz soundtrack.
Mos to date has put out 4 albums Black on Both Sides, The New Danger, True Magic and The Ecstatic. This is in addition to the Blackstar album. Unlike most artists who are pressured by a carnivorous and increasingly dysfunctional music industry, Mos takes his time and releases an album every couple of years. He’s his own man and keeps his own pace.
- Mos Def is an Emmy nominated, award-winning talented actor who has done a stellar job in flicks like ‘Brown Sugar’, ‘The Woodsman’ and ‘Something the Lord Made’. He set to star opposite Don Cheadle and Wesly Snipes in the movie Toussaint which is a film about the Haitian revolution.
You name it Mos Def does it…We wont even talk about his activism and the numerous causes he’s shown support and been involved in. His most recent venture occurred this past Labor Day weekend, when he teamed up with NASA and the ISIS (Instituting Science in Schools) education project and astronaut Leland Melvin to promote the importance of science, engineering, technology and the importance of exploration.
Mos and Leland Melvin using a new 3D hologram projection appeared at science festivals in both Oakland, California and Orlando, Florida where they stood side by side and delivered their inspiring messages. More than 2000 people showed up at Chabot Observatory in Oakland to peep Mos Def in 3D. Judging from the loud applause and brief conversations with many of the young attendees, he did not disappoint.
Such accomplishments have only added to Mos Def’s appeal and underscored why he can come to a place like the Bay Area stay an an entire week, do sold out shows in both big and small venues. He did this the other night at Oakland’s New Parrish when he and his partner Talib Kweli resurrected their landmark group Black Star and rocked two shows along with comedian Dave Chappelle. Two nights later Mos Def showed up as a solo act at San Francisco’s Independent nightclub on 628 Divisadero. And just like the New Parrish this venue sold out with less than a day’s notice.
Always a man for the people Mos Def whose government name Dante Terrell Smith took the crowd to new heights when he brought out surprise guest Talib Kweli. Dave Chappelle was backstage chilling and watching the show. The fact that a man of his stature was there to enjoy the performance and was under no pressure to come on stage and ‘cheese’ for the audience, went to show you just how dope and respected is the man we call Mos Def.
What I like most about Mos is his willingness to give a full 100% in anything he does. A lot of artist should take a page from his book. When you come to town, park yourself there for minute and make yourself accessible to the fans. Do more than one show. Record a few tracks with the local artists and like Mos, give a different performance with each show. Give the audience what they’ve come to know and like you for, but at the same time you push the musical boundaries and give them something new.
Below is a link to my photo album showing more pictures of Mos Def at his SF show at the Independent..