Through a freestyle on Kanye West's website in January 2016, Yasiin Bey announced his retirement from the music business. In a new interview, he reveals some reasons why.
"People can ask that question to Andre 3000. What is happening in the industry when some of the best and the brightest are just silent?" he asked. "I'm not talking about the cats born in the 80s, because they're supposed to be running right now. When Three Stacks was 30 years old, he was out here bubbling too. You let him get a couple of C's, he's not going to be out here like that. Even Jay, he laid back for three or four years and got into a whole other thing before this 4:44 came out.
"Why is it that all of these cats is like, 'hm, 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? Why we're not hearing these voices? Why people don't want to engage the industries like that? That's a very good question. I think people know the answer."
"But naturally, anybody with some sense - I don't want to deal with that and bring that home to my family. Or bring that to myself. I don't want my mom to inherit the fucking PTSD from running around in the rap game. The beefs, people can't get along for longer 20 minutes. Everybody getting big bags of money but 'you ain't that, you ain't this.' Routing each other out on Instagram. What kind of shit is this?"
Yasiin Bey also seems to be upset with the role that technology has on music, and how so many platforms give music away without compensating artists in a way that he thinks is fair.
"I love the culture, but it looks like the technical process has surrounded it so that the only people who really benefit off of the culture are the algorithms," he continued. "... The technical process has taken precedence over the content, and people have modified the content to suit the technical process."
Ebro said that he heard rumors about Yasiin Bey continuing to record music, but the Brooklyn lyricist/actor didn't confirm or deny the claims.
He also lamented the amount of new artists he would have to sift through. He gave props to Dreamville signee J.I.D, whose debut album The Never Story earned critical acclaim earlier this year, but said he'd rather listen to established acts whose music gets better with time.
Last time Yasiin Bey dropped a solo album was The Ecstatic in 2009, when he still went by the name Mos Def. In 2016 he announced his impending retirement from music, saying that he would release three more albums before hanging up the mic professionally. He formed a duo with friend and first-time producer Ferrari Sheppard called December 99th, and released a self-titled album exclusively through Tidal. He later performed in what he claimed was his retirement tour.
The interview also sees Yasiin Bey talking about his traveling issues in South Africa, his break from acting, and the political landscape. Watch below.