Listen to these legendary Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) tracks in light of his retirement
October 17, 2016 at 3:57 pm
Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) announced his retirement last week, and with that I figured I’d share some of Mos Def’s best tracks. In my humble opinion, he was one of the most overlooked artists of our time. He handled hip-hop differently than most, including singing in his music and giving us social commentary to reflect on. For now, check the list and be on the lookout as we’ll be reviewing some of his past work and taking a retrospective look at the Brooklyn emcee.
Mathematics (prod. by DJ Premier) — 1998
This song holds a special place in my heart. Who out there had Madden 2002? I remember doing fantasy draft dynasties, and the instrumental for the song was always playing in the background. Fast forward to when I actually started paying attention to the lyrics, and “Mathematics” is one of the realest songs written. Mos was always 100 with us, he just slipped it in between similes and metaphors. Every reference to math comes off as genius and to bring it all home who other than DJ Premier to solidify this as a classic.
Mr. Nigga feat. Q-Tip (prod. by D-Prosper) — 1998
I always liked the beat to this track, but the words behind it are what give this song life. The Mighty Mos brings The Abstract to join him and these two prominent voices make a combination I wish we’d hear more.
Know That feat. Talib Kweli (prod. by Ayatollah) — 1998
This may be a Mos Def post, but we can’t mention him without mentioning the work he’s done with Talib Kweli. Black on Both Sides came after the Black Star LP. The duo doesn’t miss a step trading words on the hook and spreading knowledge with their respective verses.
Ms. Fat Booty (prod. by Ayatollah) — 1998
History feat. Talib Kweli (prod. by J Dilla) — 2009
2009. Unreleased Dilla instrumental. Mos Def & Talib Kweli team up for the first time in years. Just press play.
Sunshine (prod. by Kanye West) — 2004
People forget sometimes that Mos Def and Kanye West teamed up quite a few times in each other’s respective careers. Kanye drops a great beat and Mos Def reiterates that he’s a veteran in the game and that his “keeping it real” is the type of music we need.
Talib Kweli — Get By Remix feat. Mos Def, Kanye West, Jay-Z & Busta Rhymes (prod. by Hi-Tek) — 2003
Black Star x Watch The Throne x Busta Rhymes…..come on now.
Reflection Eternal — Just Begun feat. J. Cole, Jay Electronica & Mos Def (prod. by Hi-Tek) — 2010
In 2010, Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek reunited as Reflection Eternal to drop their record. This a posse cut that features stellar verses from the elusive Jay Electronica and J. Cole, who was just a rising star at the time. But to bring it all home, Talib Kweli goes all the way back to 1998 and has Mos close the track.
Black Star — Make It Better feat. Q-Tip (prod. by unknown)
We mentioned collabs with Q-Tip earlier and I don’t believe this collaboration with Black Star was released to the masses til a lot later. With the backing of Black Star though you know we’re going to get some bars about the corruption in our society, which somehow still rings true today.
Black Star — Thieves in the Night (prod. by 88-keys) — 1998
I had to throw in my personal favorite Mos Def track on here and yes it’s a Black Star track. 88-Keys laid down a sullen beat and both Talib and Mos murder it. I saw this as one of Mos Def’s strongest statements. The entire Black Star album has a political and conscious tone to it and with Mos Def having the longer verse, it stands out at the end of the album.