Mos Def

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Mos Def (born Dante Terrell Smith on December 11, 1973) is a Brooklyn-born rapper and actor. He also goes by the aliases Mighty Mos Def, Boogie Man, Black Dante, and Pretty Flaco.

Early career

Mos Def began his performing career on the television show The Cosby Mysteries in 1994. In 1994, Mos also began his music career, forming the short-lived group Urban Thermo Dynamics with his younger brother DCQ and his younger sister Ces. Despite being signed to Payday Records, the group only released two singles and the group's debut album, Manifest Destiny, did not see the light of day until 2004 when released through Illson Media. In 1996 he emerged as a solo artist, working with De La Soul and da Bush Babees before releasing his own first single, "Universal Magnetic" which was a huge underground hit. After signing with Rawkus Records, he and Talib Kweli released a a full length album under the band name Black Star, entitled Black Star. It was released in 1998, with Hi-Tek producing most of the tracks. Mos Def released his solo debut, Black on Both Sides, in 1999. After the collapse of Rawkus, Def along with Kweli signed on to Interscope/Geffen Records, who released his second album The New Danger in 2004. Mos Def is projected to release his last album on Geffen Records, The Undeniable Free Flaco in late 2005 or early 2006.

Impact on hip-hop

The artistic boundaries of hip-hop and rap music had been redefined by artists such as Brand Nubian, De La Soul, and Public Enemy, whose music was more thematically sophisticated and socially conscious than that of their predecessors. By the early 1990s however, this brand of rap had been eclipsed in popularity by gangsta rap. Socially aware rap music (alternative hip hop) has experienced something of a renaissance in the late 1990s and now the 2000s, in part due to artists such as Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Dev Smith, The Roots and others. "Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are... Blackstar" Mos Def's collaboration with Talib Kweli was released during the aftermath of the deaths of 2pac and The Notorious B.I.G. sparking a rebirth of "aware" and "intelligent" hip-hop. Def's music often references his Islamic faith and his contention that black artists receive little credit for their role in the birth of rock and roll music.

On Mos Def's 2004 album "The New Danger," the rapper claims to own the receipe to the world's best-tasting chili-- a comment that has drawn the ire of companies such as ConAgra Foods, Inc.. and Wolf Brand Chili.

In September 2005, Mos Def released the single "Katrina Clap", a critical reaction to the perceived lack of response by the Bush administration to the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

Acting career

The first years of the 2000s have established Mos Def as a notable actor. His performances in Brown Sugar, Monster's Ball, and the HBO made-for-TV film Something The Lord Made have been particularly acclaimed by critics. Having been nominated for several awards, Mos finally broke through, winning Best Actor, Independent Movie at the 2005 Black Reel Awards for his portrayal of Sgt. Lucas in The Woodsman. He also landed the role of Ford Prefect in the long-awaited 2005 movie adaption of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Notably, in 2002 he played the role of Booth in Suzan-Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog, a Tony-nominated and Pulitzer-winning Broadway play. He has also been a musical guest and participated in many skits on Comedy Central's Chappelle's Show.

In 2004, he hosted the MOBO awards in London, after the original presenter, Pharrell Williams pulled out at the last minute.

He has been the host of the award-winning spoken word show Def Poetry Jam since its inception. The show's fifth season aired in 2005.




External links

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