Yasiin Bey (Formerly Mos Def) Set to Perform in Harlem this Month

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Bey - Initially regarded as one of the most promising rappers to emerge
in the late ’90s, Mos Def turned to acting in subsequent years as music
became a secondary concern for him. He did release new music from time
to time, including albums such as The New Danger (2004), but his output
was erratic and seemingly governed by whim. Mos Def nonetheless
continued to draw attention, especially from critics and underground rap
fans, and his classic breakthrough albums — Black Star (1998), a
collaboration with Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek; and Black on Both Sides
(1999), his solo debut — continued to be revered, all the more so as
time marched forward. Mos Def often used his renown for political
purposes, protesting in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the
Jena Six incident in 2007, for instance.

Dante Terrell Smith on December 11, 1973, in Brooklyn, NY, Mos Def
began rapping at age nine and began professionally acting at age 14,
when he appeared in a TV movie. After high school, he began acting in a
variety of television roles, most notably appearing in 1994 on a
short-lived Bill Cosby series, The Cosby Mysteries. In 1994 Mos Def
formed the rap group Urban Thermo Dynamics with his younger brother and
sister, and signed a recording deal with Payday Records that didn’t
amount to much. In 1996 his solo career was launched with a pair of
high-profile guest features on De La Soul’s “Big Brother Beat” and Da
Bush Babees’ “S.O.S.” A year later, in 1997, Mos Def released his debut
single, “Universal Magnetic,” on Royalty Records, and it became an
underground rap hit. This led to a recording contract with Rawkus
Records, which was just getting off the ground at the time, and he began
working on a full-length album with like-minded rapper Talib Kweli and
producer Hi-Tek. The resulting album, Black Star (1998), became one of
the most celebrated rap albums of its time. A year later came Mos Def’s
solo album, Black on Both Sides, and it inspired further attention and
praise. Yet, aside from appearances on the Rawkus compilation series
Lyricist Lounge and Soundbombing, no follow-up recordings were
forthcoming, as the up-and-coming rapper turned his attention elsewhere,
away from music.

During the early 2000s, Mos Def acted
in several films (Monster’s Ball, Bamboozled, Brown Sugar, The
Woodsman) and even spent some time on Broadway (the Pulitzer
Prize-winning Topdog/Underdog). He simultaneously worked on the Black
Jack Johnson project with several iconic black musicians: keyboardist
Bernie Worrell (Parliament/Funkadelic), guitarist Dr. Know (Bad Brains),
drummer Will Calhoun (Living Colour), and bassist Doug Wimbish (the
Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, Living Colour). This project aimed to
reclaim rock music, especially the rap-rock hybrid, from such artists
as Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst, who Mos Def openly despised. What
made Black Jack Johnson so anticipated though was not so much the
supergroup roster of musicians or even Mos Def himself, but rather the
lack of black rock bands.

the demise of Living Colour, there were few, if any, that had attained
substantial success. Mos Def hoped to infuse the rock world with his
all-black band, and during the early 2000s, he performed several small
shows with his band around the New York area. In October 2004, he
finally delivered a second solo album, The New Danger, which involved
Black Jack Johnson on a few tracks.Two years later, after a few more
acting roles — including the Golden Globe-winning Lackawanna Blues and
the Emmy-winning Something the Lord Made, both of which were
made-for-television movies — Mos Def released his third solo album, True
Magic (2006). A contract-fulfilling release for Geffen, which had
absorbed Rawkus years prior, the album trickled out in a small run
during the last week of 2006. Bizarrely, the disc came with no artwork
and was sold in a clear plastic case — though its single, “Undeniable,”
did manage to grab a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance.
The Ecstatic, released on the Universal-distributed Downtown label,
followed in June 2009; at that point, Mos Def had significant acting
roles in Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind (in which he co-starred with
Jack Black) and Cadillac Records (he played Chuck Berry).

Artist Website: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Yasiin-Bey/299113483438280
Produced By Jill Newman Productions

The Apollo Theatre
253 West 125th Street, NY, NY 10027

Set @ 9:00pm

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