Rapper-actor Mos Def announces he will change his name in 2012


Image Credit: Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Following a lengthy line of rappers that have hung up their show names, rapper Mos Def says he’s definitely giving up his rhyme alias come 2012.

Last Saturday at Governors Island for Rock the Bells, where he was performing as one half of Black Star, the artist born Dante Smith revealed that he’s changing his name to Yasiin. After more than a decade in the business, though, he won’t be mad is you slip up and call him “Mos.”

“No, no, not at all,” he said to MTV. “’Mos Def’ is a name that I built and cultivated through the years… I feel that I’ve done quite a bit with that name. It’s time to expand and move on.”

By “move on,” he’s likely referring to his promising career as an actor. He’s already starred in movies like The Italian Job, Cadillac Records, and 16 Blocks. He’s also set to begin a stint on the next season of Dexter.

He’s usually credited as Mos Def during cast listings. But his several identities will soon just be that one.

“I also don’t want to have to deal with having any moniker or any separation between the self that I see and what [people refer to me as],” he continued.

At press time, his publicist wasn’t able to confirm what Mos’ full name will be after it’s changed or if he’ll simply just be Yasiin.

To varying degrees of significance, other rappers have changed their names. T.I was originally Tip, but changed his name because Q-Tip was signed to his label first. The Wu Tang Clan’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard changed up his grimy name after an epiphany of sorts to Big Baby Jesus. And Bad Boy label head Sean Combs arrived at Diddy, following Puff Daddy and P. Diddy because, well, because he felt like it.

Who’s name change do you appreciate the most? Let us know.

Read more:
Rock the Bells: Lauryn Hill, Nas, Erykah Badu and more live at NYC’s Governors Island
EW’s review of Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star

Comments (20 total) Add your comment
Page: 1 2
  • Sean

    Psh, all those movies listed above pale in comparison to the greatness that is his role in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

    • Captain

      His best movie was 16 Blocks. LOVE that movie!

  • Mac

    Too bad his new name sounds ridiculous.

  • Clete

    You know the name that’s fallen out favor and should be revived….Waldo. He should do it, begin a trend.

  • Tawfiq

    I do hope you realize that the name Yasiin is a a very religious name and it is from the Holy Qu’ran.

    • Doogie

      So the rap head is a rag head?

      • infinite gifts

        Dear Doogie,

        You are disgusting.


  • anonymous

    Regardless of what he changes his name to, he will always and forever, most definitely be, Mos Def.

  • MesoSoup

    BlackStar forever!!!
    Talib & Mos big ups!!!!!

  • Adam

    If he’s done using Mos Def, I call dibs.

  • Andy

    Didn’t he recently drop the ‘Def” and just become “Mos”. How are people going to know who you are if you keep changing your name?

  • Texas

    I respect ur work Mos Def very much what is the meaning of ur new name? So I may have a better understanding and Y in 2012?

  • PN

    Maybe Mos Def worked in his rap persona, but I think this new name will make him more marketable in movies.

  • wmedede

    hm…Interesting…what the next Name will be… lol

  • viviennewestwood

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  • Bonge Tanzania

    Mos Def has played well in the move 16 Blocks compaired to others, hope his new name will show his efforts to become great actor, nice step ahead to him

  • Khadijah

    May Allah reward you Brother Yasiin and bless you in this world and the hereafter. Ameen

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