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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Mos Def coming to Brandeis with special guest

Published: March 18, 2005
Section: Arts, Etc.

Mos Def is one of my personal heroes. As an actor, a poet, a philosopher, an activist and, of course, a rapper, Mos Def speaks through his art with a creative voice that transcends race. He is a visionary with a sense of humor. And that is why I could not possibly be more excited about this semesters big concert.

In the increasingly inane and materialistic world of popular rap music Mos Def plays the role of the soft-spoken intellectual, reminding those of us who have been fortunate enough to be exposed to his rhythm, truth and blues that the spirit of hip hop is not confined to the club. Mos Defs unique brand of hip hop exists equally in the mind and in the streets. Rappers like 50 Cent and Juvenile spend their eight-to-sixteen bars spitting rhymes that glorify thoughtless violence and loveless sex, perpetuating the media-generated image of blacks as fatherless murderers. Mos Def, however, provides a refreshing antidote to the pop-rap club jams with expiration dates and death threats put to beats that seem to dominate the commercial rap scene these days.

Dont get me wrong, though, Mos Defs rhymes are no sterilized, toothless, Disney channel verses in the vein of Will Smith. He does occasionally rap about violence, but when he does, as in the Roots track Double Trouble, in which he brags about how he shot the sheriff, the deputy and the head of bank treasury, its more about the fact that every note Eric Clapton has ever played was written and played first by black musicians. And Mos Def is taking it all back.

Many rappers today attempt to cross over from rap to movies, but Mos Defs film performances, which include the mainstream films Bamboozled, Monsters Ball, and The Italian Job, jump off the screen and leave you with a feeling that this guy is nothing if not for real, a vibe which can probably be attributed to his involvement in the theater as a teenager. Hopefully his biggest acting exposure yet, Mos Def is even starring in the upcoming film version of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy as none other than Ford Prefect, intergalactic everyman extraordinaire.

So, when Mos Def finishes his concert on April 7th, everyone in the room is going to leave a little bit mellower, a little bit smarter and with a worldview that is hopefully a little bit wider. Ill be, without a question, in the front row. Will it be worth your $5? Mos Def.