Mos Def vs Jay-Z: “I Challenge Barclay Center to Be Hands-On In BK’s Community”

| February 12, 2013 | 2 Comments

Mos Def and Jay Z

After being hesitant to ruffle the feathers of the colossal amount of Jay-Z fans, Mos Def finally let go of his feeling of holding back on a subject very important to him. Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) is no stranger to giving pure and thorough explanations and reasoning behind “doing” and “giving” to one’s community. Today, a special and very intimate interview with Vulture magazine (via HipHopDx), allowed the rapper/actor to talk about an place, very close to his heart, the Flatbush BK area neighborhood, where he and Jay-Z, along with many other hip hop idols grew up.

In the interview, Mos Def touched on the fact that the “big bank take little bank” effect of such a big stadium and corporation, placed in such an area of small businesses, establishments, and working class people.

I have been what some people might call an opponent to the stadium…I was concerned about what the stadium’s presence in the community might do,” he said in an interview with Vulture.

During the interview, Mos Def talked more in-depth about an experience he had, mentally, when witnessing something on his old stomping grounds.

I saw one thing that was kind of a telling sign. I was on DeKalb Avenue and Flatbush, probably two months ago, and at the intersection I saw these not-quite-so-young men, in standing traffic, trying to sell bootleg Rolling Stones T-shirts. [Laughs] I thought, ‘This is the trickle-down economic effect of Barclays in the neighborhood?’ I didn’t think of it as a positive…people lost their homes, people lost their businesses. Triangle Sports, it took up a whole block, been there a hundred years — they gotta go! That’s the market.

Jay-Z does sit at the hierarchy of hip hop’s favorites, and we can’t really blame Mos Def for being careful with his wording in this matter. He even touched on why he hadn’t spoke on this beforehand.

I was actually pretty hesitant to have it published, because I didn’t want it to be misconstrued as some sort personal attack on Jay,” he said. “In the world of Hip Hop and certain parts of the media, you take a statement and you turn it into Wrestlemania, you make the Himalayas out of mole hills. I wasn’t interested in that. I respect Jay. I have great respect for him…I’m from the town too. I’m from the same neighborhood, the same projects. My grandmothers, my moms, my uncles — my first five years in life were at Marcy Projects. If I can’t have an opinion, who can? So to quote Jay: ‘I’m big upping my borough. I’m big enough to do it.’


After a very enlightening interview, giving a very detailed perspective, Mos Def left Jay-Z, and other business owners of the Barclay Center, this challenge:

I would love for Barclay and the NBA and whoever else to prove me wrong, by engaging in the community, not just on some [surface] level for the photo-op. But to really be concerned with enriching the lives of people in that community.

So, there you have it. Clearly, there wasn’t an ounce of hate in his olive branch proposal. Mos Def definitely showed hip-hop that its creators still have burning desires for their old communities, no matter the level of their own Hollywood fame. Let’s revisit Mos Def’s “Niggas In Poorest” (Niggas in Paris Freestyle) Official Video below. Tell us what you think below in the comment section:

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Category: Interviews, Latest Hip Hop News, Media Gallery, One on One

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  1. MOS Def Challenges Rapper Jay Z (Video Inside) — Hip Hop Enquirer Magazine LLC.

  2. Jason Small says:

    Great article. Its sad Mos had to really guage words that couldn't be truer because of the superficial back lash.

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