Mos Def - "Niggas In Poorest"

Mos Def, who is still insisting that we all call him Yasiin Bey now, is launching a new project called Top 40 Underdog, in which he’ll remake and tweak some big radio hits. In the first entry, he takes on “Niggas In Paris,” the great and world-conquering smash from his more-famous buddies Kanye West and Jay-Z. Yasiin’s version is a freaked-out rant, but it’s not really a freestyle; it’s more a straight-up parody that tweaks the original into a broke-folks manifesto of sorts. And, of course, he’s given it the truly awkward title “Niggas In Poorest.” Listen below.


(via Nah Right)

Best line: “WHO THE FUCK IS MARGIELA?,” obviously.

Comments (23)
  1. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Yasiin Bey is his Muslim name, not a ‘black name’… :P

    • Not sure how a quip made in reference to a rapper changing his name out of no where, after many years of going by Mos Def, has anything to do with race at all.

      Perhaps you can inform us, since you appear to be an expert on race relations.

      • Honestly, if the headline was “Yasiin Bey – ‘Ni**as in Poorest’,” there’d probably be a ton of people asking ‘WTF is Yasiin Bey?’. I don’t wanna put words in Tom’s mouth, but I’m reasonably sure he didn’t have any sort of agenda when he wrote the headline; it was probably for name recognition. That’s what I’m guessing.

    • exactly my thinking… do you really think he’s gonna go back anytime soon to using Mos Def because you keep writing it that way?

  2. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  3. I hope he does a Katy Perry song next.

  4. It’s all good. I had my name legally changed to Mos Def months ago when he relinquished it on Colbert. My wife isn’t taking it very seriously, still but my name tag at the Chuck E Cheese where I work seems ok with it.

  5. I mean I get that Tom’s just joking around and wasn’t aiming to be insensitive (and lordy knows thinking of him as Yasiin has been a weird transition for me as much as for the next guy!), but I think the objection here is towards the condescension in implying that a name change made on sincere religious grounds is some sort of whim or lark, like “aw how cute, he wants us to call him Yasiin now, isn’t that precious?” I don’t think that’s what Tom was going for but it’s just a tad too easy to interpret it that way IMO.

    • Saying, “Mos Def, who is still insisting that we all call him Yasiin Bey now” does come off as belittling a serious life choice (be it religious or artistic or for any other reason).

      But I think he was just being smug. Which is just as worthless.

  6. Mr. Bey almost makes this shit beat good.
    Couldn’t help but nod my head to this one.

  7. About to go on a long rant here, forgive me.

    I can totally get edy’s point about the comment seeming it was belittling a serious life choice. I think that Tom didn’t intend that, but I can see how it could be inferred that way. As far as some of the more intense objections raised by commentators, I don’t necessarily think that was the best way to go about things; I honestly thought the first comment (since removed) was being ironic, it was so intense.

    Now, I fully understand that yeah, Tom’s comment could possibly be a symptom of a larger problem, namely the West’s misunderstanding of non-”white Christian” groups and religions. However, I also know that Tom is probably a very smart guy — would a world famous music blog have hired him if he weren’t? — and that if he had a made a mistake that could have offended others, an honest, open pointing out of why it was offensive probably would have been better than blatant toxic words.

    Again, I understand where the objection comes from. the more I think about edy’s comment, the more I realize that yeah, it was probably a dumb thing to say. I’m not condemning Tom, though. I’ll admit I know as little about Islam as most people, at a time when, honestly, it is probably as misunderstood as ever. Tom, I probably would have made the same comment, had i written the article. I honestly didn’t know that Mos Def had changed his name for religious reasons (or at all, really, I’m behind on my Mos Def news); I searched the “Mos Def” tag on Stereogum at the time for extra context, but found none at the time.

    However, what Mos could hopefully understand is that, yes he became world famous under his own created pseudonym, Mos Def. He’s free to call himself what he wants, and if it’s for religious purposes, I totally respect his choice. He should understand, though, that we’ve known him as Mos Def for 10+ years, and that he’s not so much in the headlines, that a name change will get pounded into our brains quickly. For the duration of this piece, i admit i kept thinking of him as Mos Def.

    Anyway, I’m sure there’s other things I wanted to say, but that’s all i can remember for now. Yeah, Tom probably said something dumb, but we don’t need to fling hate speech at him; i doubt there’s any sort of negative political agenda coming from him or Stereogum; I’d stop reading it if I ever thought there was one. i understand the objection, but, especially today, a day lot of us didn’t work in order to reflect on the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr, can’t we try a little adult dialog?

  8. Did Prince fans or commentators stop calling him Prince (his given name, unlike Mos Def) just because he wanted to be called some unspeakable symbol?

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