Yasiin Bey, the artist formerly known as Mos Def, supposedly played his “last” shows not too long ago, but for someone who’s supposed to be retired, he’s stolen the hip-hop media spotlight with another memorable public appearance. The veteran rapper stopped by Ebro In The Morning on New York’s Hot 97 and proceeded to drop some knowledge and wisdom on everything from traveling the world to the state of politics in different parts of the world to the changes, for better or for worse, that have molded the current hip-hop culture into what it is today.

“You know, it’s not all doom and gloom,” said Bey when asked about the changing global landscape, especially when considering the economic transformation that has been drastic over the last few years in so many cities around the world. “If you watch the news, or the popular media, as a primary source for information, your worldview might be very fear-based […] The first response to fear is the cathartic expression of consumerism, so when people get too nervous, they’ve got to offload it in some way.” In part, he adds that that is what the entertainment industry is all about, and in terms of straight economics, he’s not wrong.

Later on, Bey starts questioning why some of hip-hop’s brightest stars, like André 3000 or Jay-Z, are distancing themselves from the music and whether or not that has to do with the noticeable change within the industry. “Even Jay, he laid back for three or four years and got into a whole other thing before this 4:44 thing came out. So why is it that all these cats is like, ‘Hmm…’ What’s up with the structure around our culture, which is unique to any other thing that’s happening in the world before or since it?” said Bey. “Why we not hearing these voices? Why people don’t wanna engage the industries like that? It’s a very good question.” He then leaned into the incessant rap beefs and how he’s not super down with any of the rap music coming out these days. “How are people even supposed to focus on your s**t when it’s eleventy million n****s that got new s**t out every day? I can’t listen to all these n****s. I got s**t to do,” he explained. “I’m not sitting here… I’m not listening to all these n****s. Why? I could just listen to already made n****s, the s**t that gets better with time.”

Check out the full conversation below.

Yasiin Bey

Yasiin Bey Talks New Hip-Hop Music, Global Economic Changes & More