MC Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) Endures Pain of Being Force Fed to Demonstrate Suffering of Guantanamo Bay Hunger Strikers

Posted by Billyjam, July 8, 2013 12:12pm | Post a Comment

Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) force fed under standard Guantánamo Bay procedure

As seen in the (warning) upsetting and unsettling YouTube video clip above, made by director Asif Kapadia and posted earlier today by the UK Guardian newspaper, MC Yasiin Bey (the hip-hop artist/actor formerly known as Mos Def) put himself into a position of physical pain to demonstrate the suffering that more than forty inmates at Guantánamo Bay currently endure, as part of an ongoing hunger strike, when they are force-fed by authorities there. Bey teamed up with the UK based human rights organization Reprieve to make this demonstration which vividly demonstrates what are standard operating procedures employed currently to force-feed inmates - based on exact practices in a leaked military handbook that shows inmates enduring similar force feeding techniques at Guantánamo.

Boston Actor/Rapper Slaine of La Coka Nostra Balances Active Hip-Hop And Movie Careers

Posted by Billyjam, January 10, 2013 11:11am | Post a Comment

Slaine "The Boston Project" sneak peak (will arrive in Amoeba in March, 2013)

More than any other popular musical genre hip-hop seems to be the one that artists frequently and effortlessly transition from music into acting. The long list of those hip-hop artists who have successfully done so includes (to name but a few) Ice Cube, Will Smith, Queen Latifah, 50 Cent, Mos Def/Yasiin Bey, Common, LL Cool J, Ice T, Ludacris, EminemSnoop Dogg, and of course the late great 2Pac/Tupac Shakur. Add to that list Slaine of rap super group La Coka Nostra. The Boston rapper, born George Carroll, is in the recently released Andrew Dominik directed film Killing Them Softly (starring Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini) and has also recently completed his second solo album, The Boston Project on Suburban Noize/Commonwealth Records, which will arrive in Amoeba Music in March, 2013.

Slaine considers his forthcoming album (the follow up to 2011's World With No Skies 2.0) his way of giving a little bit back to the city that he loves and that has given him so much over the years. He says that, "When most people think of Boston, hip-hop usually isn't the first thing that comes to mind, but the level of talent that is coming out of this city is insane. I wanted to create a record that highlights what this city has to offer musically and show how diverse the talent is. This record embodies something much larger than just a Slaine record." To further prove that point he enlisted many of Beantown's finest talents on the The Boston Project including Termanology, Reks, Esoteric, Ed O.G., Smoke Bulga, Lou Armstrong, Jaysaun, and Millyz along with Boston based producer Lu Balz.

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Will Yasiin Bey always be Mos Def to Fans?

Posted by Billyjam, October 2, 2012 03:00pm | Post a Comment
Ticket sales for Mos Def's current tour shows might not be as they should since the legendary Brooklyn MC/actor is being billed under his new assumed name Yasiin Bey which a lot of fans have still not yet gotten used to and, apparently, refusing to  adapt to. To avoid some of this confusion for many of his upcoming shows, including his October 4th stop at San Diego's 4th and B and his October 20th San Francisco stop at the Regency Ballroom, in local print publication ads and via online pre-publicity promotion the concert by Yasiin Bey carries in a smaller font "formerly" or "A.K.A." Mos Def. And then one online outlet selling tickets for the current tour had both the names "Mos Def' and "Yasiin Bey" listed but omitted any "AKA" or "formerly" which, if you didn't know who the artist was, might make it look like there were two completely different artists sharing the same bill.

Born Dante Terrel Smith the rapper began using the name Mos Def (which I think is a truly inspired hip-hop name that lyrically works on many levels) early on in his rap career which began two long decades ago. The name Mos Def has stuck with Smith. In fact even when he began his successful second career in acting it was his rap handle, not his given birth name, that followed him. If you go back and look at the credits for both Be Kind Rewind and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy you will see him billed as "Mos Def." However the artist, who converted to Islam in his teens, has simultaneously since the late 90's been using the name Yasiin Bey but only among family and close friends. Then around this time last year he made the headline grabbing announcement of his decision to drop "Mos Def" altogether and replace it with Yasiin Bey (Yasiin is a name in the Qur'an's 36th surah) telling several interviewers at the time, including MTV and the Guardian UK, that the reason was simple: that he didn't want to have to deal any more with having any moniker or separation between the "self that I see and know myself as."
So what is the overall take on this name change by longtime Mos Def fans? Most don't care for it but they accept it or don't care so long as his music doesn't change too  but to the average fan, it appears, that the artist will always be "Mos Def". On an IGN message board started earlier this month under the topic heading What's your opinion of Mos Def's name change? responses included many of acceptance but overall people were not embracing of change. Comments ranged from "he's Mos Def whether he likes it or not" to "Yasin who?" to "I'm not going to judge his personal decision to change his alias. I'll just always call him Mos Def" and "I HATE it. **** that, he's always gonna be Mos Def. It's not even an logical change like Puff Daddy to P Diddy. Like if he wanted to go by Mos or something, it's like OK." These fans aren't alone in still thinking of & referring to the artist as Mos Def. Even his rap pal / musical collaborator Fat Joe listed him on the recently released guest-heavy single "Pride N Joy" as "featuring Kanye West, Miguel, Roscoe Dash, DJ Khaled, Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss and Mos Def.

As referenced above Puffy/Puff Daddy/P Diddy/Diddy is another artist who changed his name - one of numerous  who have undergone name changes in their careers. Others include Prince who became that love symbol, Cat Stevens who became Yusuf Islam, 2Pac aka Tupac [Shakur] who went by the name Makaveli, and most recently Calvin Broadus who switched from Snoop Dogg (having long dropped the Doggy part) to Snoop Lion. But how does an artist's name changing affect those responsible for filing their music? Do they get two different sections in libraries or at the record store? Of course Mos Def has not released a full-length album since his name change (his last solo outing was 2009's The Ecstatic) but where will his next album recorded under the name Yasiin Bey be filed at Amoeba? To answer this question today I talked with Ray Montano at Amoeba Hollywood who said that, while Cat Stevens is an exception to the rule whereby his music is filed under both Stevens and Yusef Islam, that "The general rule is to pretty much try and make it as easy as possible for customers to find the music. So we would file under the first name an artist went by," noted Ray adding that, "even if we have a well known band like say Depeche Mode and a member does a side project, then we will still file that release under Depeche Mode because it is easier to locate."

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RE:GENERATION Music Project Screening at LA Film School

Posted by Amoebite, February 10, 2012 11:32am | Post a Comment
ReGeneration Music Project PosterAmoeba presents a special screening of the new documentary film, Re:Generation Music Project, on Monday February 13 at the Los Angeles Film School (across from Amoeba Hollywood).

The Re:Generation Music Project follows five electronic DJs/producers - DJ Premier, Mark Ronson, Skrillex, Pretty Lights and The Crystal Method - as they remix, recreate and re-imagine five traditional styles of music (Rock, R&B, Country, Jazz, and Classical). These five distinctive DJs collaborate with some incredibly talented (and some unlikely) partners - The Doors, Martha ReevesErykah Badu, Trombone Shorty, Mos Def, Zigaboo Modeliste, Nas, Leann Rimes, Dr. Ralph Stanley - to discover how our musical past is influencing the future.

What: Re:Generation Music Project Screening
Where: Los Angeles Film School (6363 Sunset Blvd) entrance on Ivar.
When: Monday, Feb 13 at 8pm

RSVP via email to attend:

Include your full name and if you plan to bring a guest to the screening. Please arrive early at the Film School for check-in. RSVP does not guarantee admission.

Directed by award-winning documentarian, Amir Bar-Lev (The Tillman StoryMy Kid Could Paint That), produced in association with Grammy's and presented by Hyundai Veloster, Re:Generation Music Project examines music’s past, present and future, while yielding five revolutionary collaborations in the process. In the film, The Crystal Method, DJ Premier, Pretty Lights, Mark Ronson, and Skrillex use technology to mix musical styles and generations for the creation of five original tracks that are nothing short of magical. 

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Talib Kweli on Gutter Rainbows, Kanye, Prisoner of Conscious, Obama's Raw Deal, Illegal Downloading, Black Star Sequel + More

Posted by Billyjam, December 22, 2010 07:55pm | Post a Comment

I have long been a fan of Talib Kweli's -- his music (both his solo work & collaborations with Mos Def, Hi-Tek, and Madlib) and his consistent & refreshingly uplifting & positive outlook. His unwavering commitment to thought-provoking, conscious, non misogynist hip-hop in an era when that approach to the genre doesn't generally fit the criteria for lucrative success is admirable. Talib Kweli is a truly unique artist and as a high-profile hip-hop act he is an anomaly in that he safely walks that line between mainstream (including his work with Kanye West -- an artist that once opened for him) and independent hip-hop; he is well known above the radar while still maintaining the respect of the ever discerning underground hip-hop world. So when I had an opportunity to attend a listening party in New York last night for Kweli's January 2011 release, Gutter Rainbows, and to also sit down and talk with him a bit for the Amoeblog, I jumped at the chance.

Of course, Talib Kweli is no stranger to Amoeba Music. Not only has his music long been a favorite of staffers and customers alike, but he has also had some very well received Amoeba instores, including at Amoeba San Francisco along with Hi-Tek back in May of this year just as the duo (aka Reflection Eternal) was dropping the highly recommended (but generally slept on) Revolutions Per Minute. And back in August 2007 in support of his last solo album Ear Drum, he had an instore that was streamed live. Kweli put on one of the best ever live sets I've seen at Amoeba Hollywood -- as witnessed in the video below. Last year at SXSW in Austin, TX, when he was performing a showcase with Hi-Tek, Amoeblogger Smiles Davis sat down with the artist to ask him ten questions about hip-hop and his take on the genre.
Talib Kweli live @ Amoeba Hollywood, August 2007

Last night (December 21st) was the listening party at the bar Snap on West 14th Street in Manhattan for Gutter Rainbows (Javotti Media/3D), which will be a digital only release. The night was unlike most listening parties in that it was a more intimate event and also was technically a semi-performance for Kweli, who mingled throughout the night with fans and media folk. He Talib Kweli + Hi Tekspent the entire preview playing time of his new album, which drops January 25th, up in the DJ booth rapping along on the mic to many of the new release's 14 songs, and introducing each track, big upping its producer and giving some background history. He also fielded questions from the invited partiers (many longtime friends from Brooklyn) who packed the club and gave an update on what he's been up to.

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