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Yasiin Bey Shares New Surprise Track "Basquiat Ghostwriter"

Yasiin Bey Calls For Justice On Brilliant New Track "Basquiat Ghostwriter"

Photographer Ralston Smith Captures Yasiin Bey Playing Live In San Francisco At The New 1015 Venue On April 23, 2015.
(Photo by Ralston Smith for Okayplayer)

Inspired by both the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat and the instances of police brutality that have recently dominated headlines in America, Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) has shared a new track, “Basquiat Ghostwriter”–and it’s like nothing you’d expect. Yasiin raps over a futuristic free-jazz groove that’s so inventive, strange and beautiful it could only have come from Basquiat himself. The song was posted late last night to A Country Called Earth, where Bey explained it somewhat in a note:

No rap circuses. A Country Called Earth. Free the land. Love and respect to the Basquiat family and Mr. W.F. Flame. Let us be reminded of Sandra bland, Fegurson, Baltimore, and all the injustice of the world, as well as the beauty. Respect to the family of Sean Price and Brooklyn, from which I and Jean-Michel are from. Eternal love to my city. God bless the soul and keeping living, even when we die, we wont stay dead.Lyrics by Yasiin Bey, Music by Jean-Michel Basquiat’s band Gray, off of their album Shades Of, originally recorded between 1979-1981. Lyrics taken from Jean-Michel’s paintings, graffiti and notebook sketches. Make peace and be grateful. L T P F J – Yasiin Bey

Okayplayer has it on good authority that “Basquiat Ghostwriter” was recorded Thursday, a day after the anniversary of the artist’s death, at an undisclosed location in Paris. It’s a surprising searing piece of work, filled with references to the tense present we now occupy, but somehow also uplifting in that familiar Mos Def way. Stream Yasiin Bey’s latest below.


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