New York is the simultaneously the entertainment capital of the world paired with the birthplace of Hip-Hop as a genre and culture, which has launched many dynamic and conscious artists respectively. Amongst these artists to rise from the historic birthplace arena includes the infamous MC's known as the Wu-Tang Clan, Big Daddy Kane, and Busta Rhymes who have all properly utilized their platforms in Hip-Hop to curate socially conscious content.
Dante Smith, who is better known as, "Mos Def" (and later "Yasiin Bey"), is arguably one of the most dynamic MC's from Brooklyn to ascend to Hip-Hop's elite status through his devotion to excellence and the truths of Islam. Yasiin's environment, as he developed into a man would be one of the main influences and inspirations for him to utilize Hip-Hop as a vehicle to express his beliefs (such as knowledge of self) and experiences through sharp lyricism and vividly articulated internal and external portraits.
As articulated by Mos Def in this Spin Magazine interview, Mos Def would begin his journey of becoming a practitioner of Hip-Hop's aesthetic MC'ing through forming his first Hip-Hop group in 1994 known as, "Urban Thermo Dynamics". The group consisted of Bey's brother, "D.C.Q." and younger sister, "Ces" and the group would only release one album to date ten years later known as, "Manifest Destiny". Mos Def's brightest moments in his career comes with his solo debut album, "Black on Both Sides" and his collaborative work with his fellow Brooklyn native MC, "Talib Kweli" on their legendary 2002 album, "Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star". The two projects yielded some of Def's best solo and collaborative works in the tracks, "Mathematics", "Ms. Fat Booty", "Astronomy" and "Definition".
In between theses debuts, Mos Def would take great pride in making creative 180's with his music by pushing sonic and musical boundaries on his second solo album, "New Danger" that bolstered a rock centered soundscape theme that paired perfectly with Hip-Hop's inspired building blocks. Outside of Hip-Hop's competitve walls, Bey would also follow his other passion of acting by appearing and starring in movies and TV shows such as, "Monsters Ball", "16 Blocks" and "The Boondocks".
Most recently, Mos Def has officially changed his moniker for all future endeavors back to Yasiin Bey and has recently announced that three more albums will be releasing in the near future.
Please be sure to check out Mos Def's extensive discography here and some of his best work below!