After years of practice, I’ve just finally figured out how to intonate “Mos Def” in such a way that friends can tell whether I mean Mos Def the rapper, or “mos’ deff,” the idiomatic turn-of-phrase conveying my assent. (In certain music-related convos, things can get confusing!)
But that’s all out the window, now that the musician, actor, and activist is retiring his name. It’s a name from another place, another time—a name given to him that he, in turn, “built and cultivated over the years.”
“It’s time to, y’know, expand and move on,” he tells Peter Rosenberg of MTV. “Also, I didn’t want to deal with having any moniker, or any separation between my—the self that I see and know myself as—”
“—Exactly, and what people refer to you as,” Rosenberg concludes.
Mos Def’s new name for 2012: Yasiin.
So now, when my friends ask me if I want to meet them for pizza or whatever, I guess my go-to answer will be “Yasiin!” and they’ll be all, “What.”