Hip-Hop has known for a long time that Yasiin Bey (formerly known as the Mighty Mos Def) is one of the culture’s greatest treasures. Besides poignant rhymes and Golden Globe and Emmy nominated acting chops, the Brooklyn native has long been a fashion forward firebrand. The real life documentarian’s gear may be a mix of Ivy league prepster intertwined with nattily dressed Black nationalist, but it’s always Hip-Hop.
GQ magazine caught up with the “Umi Says” rapper and talked fashion, which led to other topics including why you should call him Yasiin Bey, why he decided to collaborate with NYC clothing shop Ale et Ange and why Hip-Hop is folk art.
A Mos by Any Other Name…
“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.”
“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.”
“With guys I revere, like Marcus Garvey or Malcolm X, their look is less about style than purpose and the expression of beauty. It wasn’t just about being noticed, you know?”
UPDATE: Mr. Bey kicks some bars for GQ in the video below.
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