After coming into the game under the moniker Mos Def, the Brooklyn-born emcee has now taken on the stage name of Yasiin Bey, and in a recent interview with GQ, the artist formally known as Mos shed some light on the change.
I began to fear that Mos Def was being treated as a product, not a person, so I’ve been going by Yasiin since ’99. At first it was just for friends and family, but now I’m declaring it openly.
The man of many talents not only commands ears through rhyme, but also can be seen flexing his acting gift on “Dexter,” as well as on Broadway (in “A Free Man of Color”), and making waves in the fashion industry. GQ caught up with Yasiin Bey to talk about his style, hear how he’s preserving hip-hop through fashion, and more. You can check a few excerpts of the interview down below, as well as a short piece put together titled “I Am Yasiin Bey” up above.
On Paying Homage:
When my paternal grandfather passed a few years back, I started to wear a shirt and tie every day, like he did. Michael Jackson’s death had a big impact on me, too. Right before the Ecstatic tour in 2009, I began wearing loafers and high-waisted pants. And that’s where my look started.
On Honest Goods:
Hip-hop is the last true folk art. I got involved with Ale et Ange because it represents hip-hop in a way that isn’t pandering. It’s nice to see something that’s elegant, skillful, and raw.
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