TVD Ticket Giveaway: Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def at the 9:30 Club, 2/20

At the beginning of 2012, he took the name Yasiin Bey. But his bent toward social consciousness stays true to the grammatical modifier we “most definitely” know him as, Mos Def.  The actor and emcee will appear onstage Monday, February 20th, at the 9:30 Club.

Mos Def comes from a pedigree of politically aware lyrical artists originating out of Golden Era of Hip-Hop. In New York, where the art form took shape, there were rappers that quickly shot to the mainstream (Beastie Boys, Kid ‘n Play). And then there emerged a sub-culture of artists that rejected the “rapper identity.” These artists became sort of a side effect of the pop celebrity that record labels took ease with marketing.

Instead of the glittery, commercialized oeuvre groomed for wider audiences, emcees including Def took to Afrocentricity and racial injustice for subject matter.  Like forebears Public Enemy, Mos Def’s lyrics spoke of the consequences of violence as opposed to the act itself.

After his start with the Urban Thermo Dynamics on Rawkus Records, Mos Def partnered with Talib Kweli to form Blackstar on the same label. Their debut, Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star carried its weight as one of the best-reviewed albums of 1998.  “Definition,” most notably, received a spot in VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of Hip-Hop.

Black on Both Sides, Mos Def’s first solo effort followed. But it was on 2004’s The New Danger, released by Interscope/Geffen Records, that he began to spread his wings. Danger showcased a unique blend of hip-hop, soul, funk and blues. From the symphonic, cut-time groove “Sex, Love and Money” to the lovelorn, mood piece “The Beggar,” Mos Def proved hip-hop music has broken the musical bars, so to speak. Hip-hop now expands well beyond the limitations of what used to be scratching records on a turntable.

This year, Mos Def, hits the restart button with Yasiin Bey, his new moniker. He’s transcended past what we listeners identify as a rapper. His musical style flows in unison with the tao of emcee himself. Hip-hop provides; it gives back to the fundamental genres that gave it life.

Of course, Mos Def isn’t the first artist to change his name. Remember when the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard announced to Vibe he’d become Big Baby Jesus?

Tell us the before-and-after names of a musician you like (don’t limit to rappers), and submit your answers below. 

The deadline is Monday (2/20) at noon. The winner must confirm tickets via email by 3pm for the show that evening.

Bismillahir rahmanir rahim.

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  • John

    Pantera’s Diamond Darrell changed his name to Dimebag Darrell.

  • gringo_loco

    I like Cat Stevens changing his name to Yusuf Islam!

  • charliedarling

    Prince changed his name to un-pronouncable symbol

    Cat Stevens to Yusuf Islam

    Snoop Dogg to Snoop Doggy Dogg

    Puff Daddy to P Diddy

  • tam

    PRINCE to the unpronounceable “Love Symbol” has to be the most memorable/ridiculous one

  • Elisheba

    What about artists who changed their names at the start of their career? This little Indian girl’s favorite… Farrokh Bomi Bulsara to Freddie Mercury. Oh, and Katy Hudson, you aren’t fooling me with your name change to Katy Perry… you were terrible then, you’re terrible now!

  • EvanKronenberg

    Now, how loosely are we using the term “Musician” or “rapper” here? Because we have Metta World Peace aka Ron Artest (who has put out albums before), and Caryn Johnson who you may recognize as the Sister With Soul who changed her name to Whoopi Goldberg (starred in sister act, where she sang! valid point!) and we have Puff Daddy aka P. Diddy, aka Sean Combs, aka Sean Jean, aka P. Diddy again, to simply “Diddy.” Now, I’m not crazy about Diddy, but the fact that he has changed his name that many times cracks me up.

    BUT, my favorite actual MUSICIAN name change goes to Ellas Otha Bates, otherwise known to the world as “Bo Diddly.” Now, a name like Ellas Otha would be an amazing artistic name on it’s own, but Bo Diddly? Truely unforgettable. The man had outrageous style, ability, instruments and a name that fit them all. My sequin top hat and star-shaped glasses are tipped to Bo Diddly!

    All the best,

    -Evan K.

  • Itchy Mitch

    I mean there is no other answer than Russell Jones aka Ol’ Dirty Bastard aka ODB aka Big Baby Jesus aka Dirt McGirt aka Osirius, etc etc. The list of names goes on and that’s why it’s the best because there ain’t no father to his style

  • Ujee

    Common Sense changed his name to common due to legal issues with a Californian reggae band with the same name

  • Mark Thomas

    I have always found it interesting how Nas changed his name from Kid Wave, to Nasty Nas, to just straight up Nas.

    Another cool name change is when MF DOOM went by Zev Love X back when he was with KMD.

    Last, despite gaining weight, Fat Joe decided to slim down his name from the original Fat Joe Da Gangsta.

  • oliviaung

    The winner has been notified. Check your email!.


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