After more than two decades of being a living affirmation, Mos Def (born Dante Terrell Smith) has announced that he is retiring his stage name at the end of 2011 and beginning anew under the moniker “Yasiin,” which sounds more like a question. “Mos Def is a name that I built and cultivated over the years,” the artist who no longer wants to be called Mos Def—but whom we will still probably call Mos Def—explained to MTV. “It’s a name that the streets taught me, a figure of speech that was given to me by the culture and by my environment.” Those must have been some very positive streets. Anyway, while Mos Def admits that he won’t have a problem with someone ignoring his name change and continuing to refer to him as Mos Def—because honestly, we have enough other stuff to think about—he nevertheless believes that going by “Yasiin” signifies the next stage in his personal growth. “I didn’t want to have to deal with having any moniker or separation between the self that I see and know myself as,” said the guy who has at least three monikers separating his various selves. But now only one of those selves starred in 16 Blocks.
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