Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, has been relatively quiet in the music scene since announcing his retirement in a Facebook live video in 2016. Yet he has continued to hint at music releases long after his retirement. In late December of 2016, the veteran rapper announced the title of two studio albums, Negus in Natural Person and As Promised. Now it seems his claims about the album Negus in Natural Person actually did come to fruition.
Musician and producer Steven Julien, known for his work as Funkineven, announced a new Mos Def album titled Negus in a tweet.
However, the album release comes with a catch. The album wasn’t debuted at an album release party or leaked on the internet, as is the current norm. Instead, Bey decided to play his album as an art installation in Art Basel Hong Kong. As the tweet clarifies, the album is not available for purchase or streaming.
One New York-based writer lucky enough to be present at the event explained the reason for Bey’s discreet release. “Yasiin Bey is very aware of society’s inability to focus on anything because of technology,” she wrote. Therefore, he wanted to release the album in a space “where the listeners had to actually focus on the music.” Attendees were even urged to lock their phones at the door before the album began.
Negus was recorded in London in 2015, prior to the rapper’s alleged retirement. The album name is a reference to a royal title Ethiopian Semitic languages. Since the album’s recording, Bey knew he wanted it to be released in an artistic context. During the listening session at Art Basel, Bey took Polaroid photos of the listener’s reactions. Attendees had the option to purchase their photo as a souvenir of the event.
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March 2019 ended with my photo TAKEN by #YasiinBey aka #mosdef himself at #ArtBasel after a 30-min sundown streaming session of “Negus”, his album that will never be released elsewhere except those exact headphones on my head. It was the only “piece” in the exhibit that reminded me just how important the moment of now is. Thank you #artbasel team for everything that you do 🙌🏼
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Last night we randomly ended up with Yasiin Bey, otherwise known as Mos Def, watching him fly kites, listen to dreamy beats, and of course random flutes playing quietly in the distance. For someone who has been seeing him perform for almost twenty years, it was one of the most artistically elevated performances of his which plans to launch globally after Art Basel ends today. Check out Negus when it launches and thanks to @thethirdlinedxb for making it happen! ✨✨✨ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #hongkong #mosdef #yasiinbey #discoverhk #hk #artbasel #artbaselhongkong #art #design #polaroids #squad #squadgoals
According to the attendee, three of the songs on Negus are titled “Dream Study,” “Hemp,” and “Day Trippers.” No further information has been released about the availability of Negus, but we hope Yasiin Bey will eventually decide to make his conceptual album widely available.
(Via Document Journal)