Yasiin Bey Has Premiered A New Album As An Art Exhibit
It’s been a while since heads got new music from Yasiin Bey. The MC formerly known as Mos Def announced his retirement from Hip Hop music in a 2016 Facebook Live video, but it never really seemed like he was ready to hang up the mic. He continued to hit at music releases long after his supposed retirement and even announced the title of two studio albums in December of that same year – Negus In Natural Person and As Promised. While those never actually surfaced in any medium, there might be new hope for music coming from the Brooklyn, New York MC.
Musician and producer Steven Julien, known for his work as Funkineven, just announced that Bey has an album coming called Negus. On social media, Julien he shared a message about the project and even what looks like part of or a whole tracklist. There’s a catch though. Fans won’t be able to hear it on their favorite streaming service or even be able to purchase physical copies. It was debuted at Art Basel Hong Kong and reportedly will remain offline and exclusive to the medium. Ann Binlot, a New York-based writer, who was lucky enough to be at the event wrote about why Mos Def isn’t going to let fans hear the album from the comfort of their home.
yasiin bey / mos def
produced by myself, lord tusk and acyde. pic.twitter.com/aG2htaq5jx
— Steven Julien (@FunkinEven) March 30, 2019
“Yasiin Bey is very aware of society’s inability to focus on anything because of technology,” she wrote for Document Journal. That’s why he wanted to release the project in a space “where the listeners had to actually focus on the music.” Attendees of the event were reportedly urged to lock their phones at the door before the album listening began.
Negus was reportedly recorded in London in 2015, which was before Bey’s supposed retirement. The name of the album is a reference to a royal title Ethiopian Semitic languages. During its recording, Yasiin Bey knew he wanted it to be released in an artistic form. During the Art Basel listening session, Bey took Polaroid pictures of listener’s reactions of his latest musical work. Attendees had the option to purchase their photo as a souvenir of the event.
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March 2019 ended with my photo TAKEN by #YasiinBey aka #mosdef himself at #ArtBasel after a 30-min sundown streaming session of “Negus”, his album that will never be released elsewhere except those exact headphones on my head. It was the only “piece” in the exhibit that reminded me just how important the moment of now is. Thank you #artbasel team for everything that you do ??
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Last night we randomly ended up with Yasiin Bey, otherwise known as Mos Def, watching him fly kites, listen to dreamy beats, and of course random flutes playing quietly in the distance. For someone who has been seeing him perform for almost twenty years, it was one of the most artistically elevated performances of his which plans to launch globally after Art Basel ends today. Check out Negus when it launches and thanks to @thethirdlinedxb for making it happen! ✨✨✨ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #hongkong #mosdef #yasiinbey #discoverhk #hk #artbasel #artbaselhongkong #art #design #polaroids #squad #squadgoals
While heads had to be at Art Basel Hong Kong to be able to hear Yasiin Bey’s latest work, it might not be the only release still coming from him. A little over a year ago, Bey announced that a new Black Star album is coming during a show in Denver, Colorado. A Reddit poster (Mellowtooth) grabbed footage of Bey telling fans, “New Black Star with Madlib, Talib Kweli, Yasiin, coming soon!,” before adding, “All Madlib, all day. 2018, Madlib, Black Star. Madlib Black Star.”
Yasiin Bey will join Raphael Saadiq, H.E.R., Ari Lennox, Tobe Nwigwe, and others at the 2019 Roots Picnic.
This year marks a decade since The Ecstatic, which Yasiin released as Mos Def.