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Yasiin Bey (born Dante Terrell Smith; December 11, 1973), better known by his stage name Mos Def, is an American rapper, singer, actor and activist.

One of the founders of the conscious rap movement, writing and rapping about god, society, government, freedom and universal truth, or as Yasiin states, universal law. 

Yasiin Bey grew up in Brooklyn, New York in a time when racism, classism and police brutality was a part of everyday life, inspiring him to be the change he wished to see in the world, and free his brothers and sisters from the clutches of oppression. Yasiin wanted to give the power back to the people – not fight the system for rights and equality – but empower the individual to be above the system that they were a part of.

 He also publicly spoke out against injustice and has been arrested multiple times for “being black and speaking the truth”. Mos Def (Yasiin Bey) was one of the first Muslim conscious hip hop artists to enter into the spotlight being featured on De La Soul’s albums and working with artists such as Kanye West, Common and Talib Kweli.  

In 1999, he released his solo album ‘Black on Both Sides‘ that cemented him as one of the greatest hip hop artists of all time. The album raised awareness of the water issue that the world was beginning to face with the song ‘New World Water’, sharing stories of personal experiences of racism in ‘Mr Nigga’ and a song about his understanding and philosophy of love in the song titled ‘Love’. On other tracks, Yasiin Bey tells stories to inspire the youth and the communities stuck in habitual actions to break them from their societal moulds and to come back to love, peace and understanding. 

Umi Says

I don’t wanna write this down
I wanna tell you how I feel right now
I don’t wanna take no time to write this down
I wanna tell you how I feel right now, hey (World premiere)
Tomorrow may never come
For you or me, life is not promised
Tomorrow may never show up
For you and me, this life is not promised

I ain’t no perfect man
I’m trying to do, the best that I can
With what it is I have
I ain’t no perfect man
I’m trying to do, the best that I can
With what it is I have

Put my heart and soul into this song
I hope you feel me
From where I am, to wherever you are
I mean that sincerely
Tomorrow may never come
For you and me, life is not promised
Tomorrow may never appear
You better hold this very moment very close to you
Very close to you, so close to you
So close to you, don’t be afraid, to let it shine

My Umi said shine your light on the world
Shine your light for the world to see
My Abi said shine your light on the world
Shine your light for the world to see
My Umi said shine your light on the world
Shine your light for the world to see
My Abi said shine your light on the world
Shine your light for the world to see

Sometimes I get discouraged
I look around and things are so weak
People are so weak
Sometimes, sometimes I feel like crying
Sometimes my heart gets heavy
Sometimes I just want to leave and fly away (Like a dove)
Sometimes I don’t know what to do with myself
Passion takes over me
I feel like a man, going insane, losing my brain
Trying to maintain, doing my thang, hey hey ahey.

Put my heart and soul into this y’all
I hope you feel me where I am, to wherever you are
Sometimes I don’t want to be bothered
Sometimes I just want a quiet life, with
Me and my babies, me and my lady
Sometimes I don’t want to get into no war
Sometimes I don’t wanna be a soldier
Sometimes I just wanna be a man, but

My Umi said shine your light on the world
Shine your light for the world to see
My Abi said shine your light on the world
Shine your light for the world to see
My Jiddo said shine your light on the world
Shine your light for the world to see
My elders said shine your light on the world
Shine your light for the world to see

I want black people to be free, to be free, to be free
All my people to be free, to be free, to be free
All black people to be free, to be free, to be free
All black people to be free
That’s all that matters to me x 6

Black people unite and let’s all get down
Gotta have what
Gotta have that love
Peace and understanding
One God, one light
One man, one voice, one mic
Black people unite come on and do it right
Black people unite come on and do it right
Black people unite come on and get down
Gotta have what
Love, peace and understanding
One God, one voice, one light
One man, gon’ shine my light
Black people unite, now hop up and do it right
Black people unite, now come on and do it right
Yeah baby that’s what I like
Yeah baby that’s what I like

 

Fear not of Man 

[Spoken]

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem
( “In the name of God, most Gracious, most Compassionate”.)
If you can hear me ladies and gentlemen
Then I’m very happy that you came here
Ooh-oooh, whee!
That was for Brooklyn
Ha ha, we get it every time
“You got me on? Oh”
Shout out to all of my crew, East-West, North-South
All the continent, Europe, all abroad international
Bring it in, bring it in, bring it in, bring it in
It’s a lot of things goin’ on y’all
21st century is comin’
20th century almost done
A lot of things have changed
A lot of things have not, mainly us
We gon’ get it together right? I believe that
Listen—people be askin’ me all the time
“Yo Mos, what’s going to happen with hip-hop?”
(Where do you think hip-hop is goin’?)
I tell em, “You know what’s gonna happen with hip-hop?
Whatever’s happening with us”
If we smoked out, hip-hop is gonna be smoked out
If we doin’ alright, hip-hop is gonna be doin’ alright
People talk about hip-hop like it’s some giant livin’ in the hillside
Comin’ down to visit the townspeople
We are hip-hop
Me, you, everybody, we are hip-hop
So hip-hop is going where we going
So the next time you ask yourself where hip-hop is going
Ask yourself: where am I going? How am I doing?
until you get a clear idea
So if hip-hop is about the people
And hip-hop won’t get better until the people get better
Then how do people get better? (Hmm)
Well, from my understanding people get better
When they start to understand that they are valuable
And their not valuable because they got a whole lot of money
Or ’cause somebody, think they sexy
But they valuable ’cause they’ve been created by God
And God makes you valuable
And whether or not you recognize that value is one thing
You got a lot of societies and governments
Tryin’ to be God, wishing that they were God
They wanna create satellites and cameras everywhere
And make you think they got the all-seeing eye
Eh, I guess The Last Poets wasn’t too far off
When they said that certain people got a god complex
I believe it’s true
I don’t get phased out by none of that, none of that
Helicopters, the TV screens, the newscasters, the satellite dishes
They just wishing
They can’t really never do that
When they tell me to fear their law
When they tell me to try to have some fret in my heart behind the things that they do
This is what I think in my mind
And this is what I say to them
And this is what I’m saying to you check it

All over the world hearts pound with the rhythm

Fear not of men because men must die
Mind over matter and soul before flesh
Angels hold a pen, keep a record in time
Which is passing and running like a caravan trader
The world is overrun with the wealthy and the wicked
But God is sufficient in disposing of affairs
Gunmen and stockholders try to merit my fear
But God is sufficient over plans they prepared
Mos Def in the flesh, where you at, right here
On this place called Earth, holding down my square
X 2 

Bout to represent in your whole atmosphere
Bout to represent in your whole atmosphere
To your atmosphere, to your atmosphere
Oh-ooh!
That was for you—and Brooklyn, too!

—————————————-

“Yo Mos, what’s going to happen with society/humanity?”
(Where do you think society/humanity is goin’?)
I tell em, “You know what’s gonna happen with society/humanity?
Whatever’s happening with us”
If we smoked out, society/humanity is gonna be smoked out
If we doin’ alright, society/humanity is gonna be doin’ alright
People talk about society/humanity like it’s some giant livin’ in the hillside
Comin’ down to visit the townspeople
We are society/humanity
Me, you, everybody, we are society/humanity
So society/humanity is going where we going
So the next time you ask yourself where society/humanity  is going
Ask yourself: where am I going? How am I doing?
until you get a clear idea
So if society/humanity is about the people
And society/humanity won’t get better until the people get better
Then how do people get better? (Hmm)
Well, from my understanding people get better
When they start to understand that they are valuable
And their not valuable because they got a whole lot of money
Or ’cause somebody, think they sexy
But they valuable ’cause they’ve been created by God
And God makes you valuable
And whether or not you recognize that value is one thing

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