Yasiin Bey has taken on the role as a hip-hop elder. He speaks on important issues and is often times regarded as a spokesperson for the culture along with cats like Talib Kweli, Questlove, Q-Tip, etc.

But before Yasiin Bey even went by that name, he was known as Mos Def, an MC from Brooklyn, NY. Rising out of the ashes of Notorious B.I.G., Mos Def linked up with Talib Kweli to create the Black Star album, which is widely regarded as a landmark album of that time, place, sound and style in hip-hop.

A year after Black Star released a classic, Mos Def would give the world Black on Both Sides. Through an unmatched style of storytelling and fact-rapping, Mos Def was able to make a conscious album hot! This is something that was only done by the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and mostly underground rappers at the time.

He's gone on to release a few great records and even take on roles in movies. The guy is an incredible artist who's work deserves a spotlight. For that, we throw it back to his early classics.