Our once and future truth-teller
By D. Scot Miller
Wednesday April 8, 2009
PREVIEW Anyone who heard "Big Brother Beat" on De La Soul's 1996 album Stakes Is High (Tommy Boy) was soon saying, "Who's this kid Mos Def?" Still, it's hard to believe that, 13 years later, the radiant voice on that track would become the ubiquitous scion of that good old Native Tongue can-do.
Mos Def can turn up simultaneously in a movie (his next project is a film version of Iceberg Slim's Mama Black Widow) and on a television show (you catch him on House a few weeks ago?), yet still find time to cameo on other people's albums, win an Obie for his performance in a play (Suzan Lori Parks' Fuckin' A), and come out with a book (Black 2.0, due this summer). It's like, wait a minute, there's got to be more than one Mos Def.
His four albums explore his tortured id and black people's rightful place as the inventors of rock 'n' roll and just about all forms of popular music — all that, and they still maintain the dedication to socially conscious protest we've come to expect from our once and future truth-tellers. His fifth, The Ecstatic, is due later this year. He's coming to Yoshi's in Oakland for a few sets with Robert Glasper on piano, Mark Kelly on bass, Chris "Daddy" Dave on drums, Casey Benjamin on sax, and Keyon Harrold on trumpet. Be a part of history in the making. It's not like you have a choice. His name is Most Definite, not Think So.
MOS DEF Tues/14–April 16, 8 and 10 p.m., $55. Yoshi's Oakland, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakl. (510) 238-9200. www.yoshis.com