Interview: Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) Talks New Orleans

Published on: July 15th, 2013

Click here or scroll down to listen to the interview.


"I don't care why I love you" 
--Yasiin Bey (also known as Mos Def) talks about his indescribable affection for New Orleans and New Orleans' music.

Yasiin Bey, the former Mos Def, has shown love for New Orleans over many years.

Mos Def and friends

Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) at a 2010 benefit for Gulf Aid with Trombone Shorty,
Lenny Kravitz, and Tim Robbins

On Sunday, May 5, 2013, the day after his show at New Orleans' Rice Mill with Erykah Badu, Donald Harrison and band, the Hot 8 Brass Band, and Robert Glasper, Yasiin Bey came to WWOZ's studio for an interview with Maryse Dejean and Don Paul.

The 39-year-old Hip Hop artist and actor talked about what New Orleans and his music have meant to him. He said: "I've just found a lot of inspiration and beauty and truth here."

He talked about Thelonius Monk and Andrew Hill and Robert Glasper and other of his favorite pianists.


Andrew Hill

Andrew Hill

He talked about his collaborations over the past year with DJ and producer Mannie Fresh. He spoke about being "really, really grateful to have the type of enthusiasm and access to Mannie." He talked about Lauryn Hill's new single "Neurotic Society"--"The most exciting and challenging record, the most earnest thing I've heard from an M.C., in a long time."


Yasiin Bey and Mannie Fresh, 2012

He talked about publishing his rhymes in an upcoming book that's to be illustrated by provocative artists such as Barbara Kruger.

He recited a new poem, 'Wet Paint'.

Yasiin Bey began to support New Orleans' survivors soon after the 2005 levees-failure flood.

In September of that year he protested against lack of Government aid to survivors of the flood with a live performance of "Katrina Clap" outside the MTV Music Video Awards in New York City. He contributed to the city's post-flood recovery through benefits for Common Ground Relief and other organizations.

In 2010 he performed at benefits for victims of the British Petroleum blow-out and devastation of the Gulf Coast and recorded a cover of Smokey Johnson's "It Ain't My Fault" with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Lenny Kravitz, and Trombone Shorty that also served as a fund-raiser.

Yasiin Bey compared how he feels about New Orleans to a husband who can only explain his love for his wife thus: "I don't know why I love you. I don't care why I love you."

Enjoy the words and sentiments and insights of Yasiin Bey!

Aristide Phillips did a meticulous and excellent edit of this interview. Jorge Fuentes enabled set-up for the interview. Maryse Dejean again provided the base from which everything went forward.

Don Paul, July 14, 2013


Yassin Bey, Maryse Dejean,and Don Paul. outside WWOZ's studio, May 2013

Yasiin Bey, Maryse Dejean,and Don Paul. outside WWOZ's studio, May 2013


The complete interview with Yasiin Bey:

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