Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Mos Def to change his name to Yasiin in 2012
Mos Def (born Dante Smith), one of the most visible and well-known of today's rappers (but not one of the most productive, in terms of sheer quantity of recorded output), will change his name to Yasiin, starting in 2012. He converted to Islam (he is a Sunni, i.e. orthodox as opposed to Nation of Islam or Nation of Gods and Earths) as a teenager. He has stated, regarding the name change, that "[I don't want] to deal [any more] with having any moniker or separation between the self that I see and know myself as." I read this as meaning, he wants to be more open about his Muslim faith and identity.
I have written in the past that Mos Def has been spotted in a kufiya, but I've not found a photo, ever. My source was a piece in Kabobfest -- but there is no photo. We do have this evidence, from his song "War" (on the album The New Danger, 2004), that Mos Def did/does have some appreciation for the condition of the Palestinians:
But for now I'm a soldier abidin' my time
Writin' my rhyme behind enemy lines
Palestine, Kosovo, Kashmir
No different than the avenues right here
(Funny, Kashmir is usually spelled Cashmere, if you hunt for the transcription of these lyrics on line. C'mon, folks, learn some geography and history from our man Mos Def, soon to be Yasiin.)
I like the look he has in the photo above (courtesy GQ): it's kinda snappy NOI (the bowtie) and devout Sunni (the kufi) at the same time.