Mos Def can do it all, he raps, he sings, and he acts, he's the total package in entertainment. He is also a rarity in the world of entertainment, he is very humble, he walks around nonchalantly fist bumpin' and shaking hands with many of the people he encounters. Don't tell him I told yo, but he is also not shy about taking a picture with encountered fans.
Mos Def was born in Brooklyn, New York to the name of Dante Terrell Smith. He was raised in Brooklyn by his mother and his father lived in New Jersey. His father originally was a member of the Nation of Islam until he became an active member under Imam Warith Deen Muhammad. At the age of 19, Mos declared shahada, which is a Muslim declaration of faith, which later took him to the Islamic group known as 5 Percent, basically started off the teachings of Clarence 13X.
Mos Def began writing rhymes when he was nine years old in '82. He talked about it in an interview with Spin magazine (August 1, 2009 by Charles Aaron):
"That was the first year I wrote a rhyme, and it was also the year that I first saw Wild Style — in the theater, in the Bronx, with my moms. The place was packed. I lived for a summer in the Bronx, and you can't really describe that time and the energy and have it mean all that it did. It falls short. New York was another type of place, and hip-hop was local, community music, public-access channel. It was a culture that came up in a city on the decline."
Mos Def also started to act around the same time, the first play he was in was Free to Be...You and Me. His mother was really active on making sure he made the best of his talents. Mos Def also talks about a middle school teacher he had (also from the Spin interview in August 1, 2009 by Charles Aaron):
"And Philippa Schuyler, my middle school, was this place, this oasis, in Brooklyn, in Bushwick, in the hood, but there were all these bright, talented kids."
When it comes to his professional career, he started as a solo artist in 1996 working with De La Soul and Da Bush Babees before he came out with his own single, "Universal Magnetic". Mos Def then signed with Rawkus Records and formed a group with Talib Kweli called Black Star. They released an album in 1998 titled Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star. Hi-Tek was the main producer of the whole album. The album had a couple of hit singles in "Definition" and "Respiration". These two tracks were featured in VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.
In 1999, Mos Def was hard at work releasing his first solo debut album, Black on Both Sides, under Rawkus Records. He also featured in some compilation albums that Rawkus put out called, Lyricist Lounge and Soundbombing.
A few years later, Rawkus collapsed so Mos signed with Geffen/Interscope. Under them, he released his second solo album, The New Danger in 2004. The New Danger was a daring album, especially for his sophomore solo attempt, it mixed many genres (blues, soul, rock, and hip hop). He did all the song with a live band and it included a couple of singles, "Sex, Love, and Money" and "Ghetto Rock". "Ghetto Rock" was up for several Grammy nominations.
In 2006, Mos Def released his final(third) solo album under Geffen called True Magic. He collaborated with such industry heavy hitters such as, Madlib, Preservation, The Neptunes, J Dilla, and Mr. Flash (to name a few).
After Geffen, He signed with Downtown Records, and released his fourth solo album, The Ecstatic. He kept up the same relationships that he established with True Magic and brought them along for this album as well. In August 1, 2009, Mos Def also came out with his own line of Converse, which was given a limited release through Foot Locker. Later in 2009, Mos also came out with his own clothing line UNDRCRWN calling the collection "Mos Def Cut & Sew Collection".
In 2012, Mos Def changed his name from Mos Def to Yasiin. There has been reports about a Black Star revival, in January 2012, many hope it is true because when they collab, it is always dope.
A link to an interview that he did:
To find out info about his acting career check out:
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