Today, Dec. 11, is the 45th birthday of rapper, actor and activist Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def. The Grammy-nominated Brooklynite gained critical acclaim in 1996, with the release of “Universal Magnetic." The following year, Mos Def and Talib Kweli teamed up to form Black Star and released the album, Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star. The duo is recognized for helping to shape underground alternative rap and bringing it into the mainstream.

The rapper's acting career includes roles in Spike Lee's Bamboozled, MTV's Carmen: A Hip Hopera, Monster's Ball, Brown Sugar, The Italian Job, The Woodsman, Dexter and Something the Lord Made.

In 2011, Mos Def released a statement saying he was changing his name to Yasiin Bey. The moment marked a shift into his personal and professional life.

Yasiin spent much of 2016 stranded in South Africa after being locked up for using false travel documents to leave the country. In January of 2016, the “Ms. Fat Booty” rapper announced his retirement on Twitter and had fans reacting very strongly. But Bey announced that he would also be dropping one more album to commemorate his rap career. The album, Dec. 99th, dropped on Dec. 9, 2016, preceded by the announcement of his final U.S. tour, which was meant to promote the release of the LP.

Although Bey said he was retiring from rap in 2016, he assured fans that he wouldn't be disappearing several months later, claiming that he'd always be creating in one way or another. He broke his rapping fast when he collaborated on experimental rap group Buy Muy Drugs' record, "Buy Muy App," in the fall of 2017. During that same period of time, Gorillaz brought him out onstage to perform their collab, "Stylo," off their 2009 album, Plastic Beach. That same month, he delivered a "farewell" performance at the One Musicfest in Atlanta. Since then, however, Bey stood on stage during a Madlib set and hinted that the rap game can expect a new Black Star project at some point.

While it's only natural to hope for new music from the Brooklyn rapper, it's probably healthier to wish he continues to simply do anything he pleases. Here's to hoping for that.

Happy Birthday, Yasiin Bey!

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