MOS DEF AKA YASIIN BEY @ ENMORE THEATRE, SYDNEY 20.10.2014
By Harry Ward
After failing to make an appearance at Sydney’s Soulfest over the weekend, Mos Def (more recently referred to as Yasiin Bey) had some making up to do with his NSW fans at the Enmore Theatre.
Hip hop is always questionable in a live setting. There are the Kanye West’s of the world, seeking to make a spectacle of the genre, and then there are the more traditional rappers that get on stage and recite their lyrics inaudibly (and a tad boringly) over a bloody huge sound system. Mos Def has found the sweet spot in his performance. There were no tricks, no huge budgets, not even a light show, but this man was the most intriguing and entertaining MC I have witnessed on stage.
The set was comprised of Def’s trademark Middle Eastern inspired tracks such as The Embassy and the crowd-pleasing Auditorium, with a few tasty moments of jazz appreciation thrown in, namely a 10 minute groove session with The Panties. Mos Def pushed the boundaries of hip hop performance, spending a lot of time on stage enjoying the beats and just having a boogie. Yasiin was content to leave the audience waiting in the wings while he had a personal jam session, and there was something very infectious about that kind of musical appreciation.
For an outspoken ambassador of peace, there was an element of drama at the end of the set when Mos drew his fist in defence of a fan that had managed to rush the stage in hope of a cuddle from his idol. It wasn’t dear old Yasiin’s fault, of course, but it was an ironic twist to the harmonious message of his show. “Peace and self-defence” would be a better catchphrase.
Watching Mos Def’s personal salute to Aussies Tame Impala, playing Alter Ego over and over whilst spinning in circles. Probably the world’s highest paid hippy.
“I like it when a beat go splash” – as he tells the DJ to drop the beat for The Embassy one more time.
“That was a little inside joke between my left and right brain” – some of Yasiin’s humour succeeded in baffling the Sydney crowd.