Mos Def
Mos Def Profile Photo

Mos Def

Famous As
Rapper, actor
Birth Name
Dante Terrell Smith
Birth Date
Dec 11, 1973
Birth Place
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Mos Def Biography

Ready to shatter the hip-hop community through his third solo album "Tru3 Magic", Mos Def appears to be prepared enough to mark his comeback into music industry for year 2007 after a two-year hiatus while maintaining his career in Hollywood. As a start, the talented rapper willingly sets to appear alongside Donald Trump on NBC's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" taped on January 9 and aired on the next day before taking the stage of Lincoln Center's The Allen Room on date 17 as part of American Songbook series. On the big screen, it is expected that his two vehicles of "Toussaint" and "Be Kind Rewind" can make their way to the cinemas somewhere during the year so that fans are able to once again cherish his natural knack in acting which has already been recognized by moviegoers and critics alike.

Heralded as one of the more conscientious voices of the New School hip-hop alongside the likes of Common, OutKast, Goodie Mob, and The Roots, Mos Def was born Dante Terrell Smith on December 11, 1973 in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up at the center of hip-hop's golden era of the '80s, it was almost impossible for the boy to not get influenced by the MCs and New School leaders of that time such as Big Daddy Kane or De La Soul, who thus inspired him to begin rhyming at the tender age of nine. Unlike many hip-hop fans, however, he wisely did not let himself to stick close to the genre only, but also opened his mind to absorb musical knowledge from across the artistic spectrum. "I'm not just inspired by black art, but good art, representations of art that are sincere and genuine," he stated.

Despite the burgeoning fondness for the field, Def surprisingly opted to go for acting instead, a venture that he began directly out of high school, and marked his debut in a TV-movie feature "God Bless the Child" by late 1980s. Nevertheless, as such life gradually became unbelievably tough for him, he then decided to make a return to music not long after, forming a group named Urban Thermo Dynamics alongside his younger siblings, DCQ and Ces, with the former one's encouragement. Sadly, the troupe did not last long enough to make sound in the music industry though they in fact managed to release two singles under Payday Records. Thankfully, the gloomy situation soon was put behind as Def later delightfully got invited to join the Native Tongues Posse, which proved to pave his initial way in the business.

The turning point under the affiliation, known for their positive-minded, good-naturedly Afrocentric lyrics and jazzy beats, ultimately took shape when the teen wonderfully landed chances to have cameo appearances on Soul's "Big Brother Beat" and Bush Babee's "Love Song" in 1996. Showcasing his intelligent rhyme skills as well as his charm and charisma, it was not really surprising to afterwards see him strike a deal with Royalty Records, through which he was able to release his own first single "Universal Magnetic." A massive underground hit, the composition joyously led Def to a more high-profile collaboration with Talib Kweli under the moniker of Black Star, whose self-titled album became one of the most discussed works in 1998 following its launch on August 26 that year via Rawkus Records.

No doubt received large exposure as consequence, Def cleverly used the hype surrounding him to launch his solo debut "Black on Both Sides" featuring notable names like Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, and Vinia Mojica a year later on October 12. The strategy amazingly turned out to be more than just effective as the LP superbly soared to the third rank of Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums in the same year, in the meantime spawning a hit song of "Ms. Fat Booty" which peaked at number fifteen on Hot Rap Singles. Later even being certified Gold by RIAA, the piece of work unmistakably evoked further attention to place the rapper among the elites of the hip-hop community.

In spite of the attainment, Def boldly took quite a long pause in the business to rebuild his acting career by the time he welcomed the third millennium, starring in "Monster's Ball" (2001), "Brown Sugar" (2002), and "The Italian Job" (2003), among others before returning with sophomore album "The New Danger" on October 19, 2004, this time under Interscope/Geffen Records. The result was extremely satisfying for it wondrously secured the runner-up position on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums while its single "Sex, Love and Money" gloriously directed him to score a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative/Urban Performance in 2005. The delight got doubled when he successfully snatched a Golden Globe Award nod in Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television through his role in "Something the Lord Made" (2004) after previously earned an Emmy nomination in similar category.

Maintaining a good balance between music and acting, Def continued to strive in the following year as he managed to bring up several singles like "Bin Laden" and "Katrina Clap" amid his hectic schedule in shooting "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" also "Lackawanna Blues." Sadly, the success was tainted by his decision to have a legal separation in 2006 from his wife Maria Yepes who has given him two children during their ten-year marriage. Even so, the divorce apparently did not bring much affect to Def's career for he kept marching forward confidently to issue his next record "Tru3 Magic" on December 29, 2006 while reaching deals to take part in a handful of films that included "16 Blocks", "Journey to the End of the Night", and "The Brazilian Job."