Your favorite boogie man: Mos Def

Your favorite boogie man: Mos Def

The question ‘is he an actor or a rapper’ may just be too old at this point. Mos Def is much more than either. He has become a symbol for many in the black community. He is making his millions in Hollywood but noone would ever accuse him of playing to the crowd in his music. If anything it’s the opposite. 3 albums into his own discography he is loosing people in his mind deeper and deeper not getting more pop like every other actor/rapper. As opposed to all other people in his position he plays the most thought-provoking roles on the screen. With the exception of some flukes like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy he is mostly in dramas, love stories and films making a valid point in general. No wonder he got picked to play the role of a rapper talking about problems in rap in Brown Sugar.


Unlike LL Cool J he stays away from making pop music. Unlike Method Man he leans on the more serious topics in films. Unlike Ice Cube he sticks to conscious music when he does rep for Hip Hop. It would seem like rap is like a vacation for him, a mini getaway from all other life. Staying consistently active with performances he doesn’t focus on albums too much. Starring in over 20 major motion pictures, multiple TV series and working on 8 movies as of this very moment makes you wonder how he even finds the time to do live performances. Luckily his childhood friend Talib Kweli comes to the rescue. Talib’s moniker of King of underground conscious rap helps. Still, he brings commercial recognition to Kweli’s game. Doing shows together they got Talib’s DJ, DJ Chaps, Talib’s back up singers, even Talib’s schedule at times.


The amazing thing about Mos Def is not only the fact that he finds the time to rap. It is the fact that he manages to entwine truly experimental lyrical artistry with conscious themes. It’s been a long time since he was banging on the lunch-room tables in school practicing his raps in Bedsty as a kid. Still, despite the glamour of a Hollywood star he is considered to be one of the most conscious rappers of our time. Constantly taking a stand on social, political and economic issues he does not shy away from Afrocentric themes either. From performing at Black August to speaking out against President Bush’s actions (or inactions) to educating people on black pride he does not confuse anyone on his opinions. Artistically he just about gets away with murder on the tracks. Making songs and almost entire albums about Boogie Man he seems to use rap as a therapy for his mind. Letting out what he needed to be out he spills his mind and soul through an extremely unorthodox barrage of imagery. Then again, he is loved for his style, his flow and his smile much more than his lyrics per se.


It is unusual and unexpected to encounter Mos Def acting Hollywood in NYC. He keeps that to LA. In New York he is still the underground conscious rapper he’s been for many years. His success with Black Star winded down as Mos focused primarily on making movies. His last album, Mos Definite, made no noise whatsoever. Yet, who cares? Mos Def is especially unique as it is not his lyrics, his beats or even his opinions that make fans sell out all of his shows. It is his overall ambience, his charisma and his purity of music and its messages.


So comes Mos Def on stage once again to the roars of fans all over the world.


I am the most beautiful boogie man
The most beautiful boogie man
Let me be your favorite nightmare
Close your eyes and I’ll be right there

Dmitriy Goldin