Photo by Mr. Mass for Okayplayer
This is indeed a historic evening for surprise releases. Yasiin Bey the artist formerly known as Mos Def has dropped a hypnotic new track titled “Dec. 99th – N.A.W.” slapping his sonic trump card (wait–does this presidential fuckery mean we have to purge ‘trump card’ from our vocabulary now? Damn. Thanks, Drumpf) right on top of a deal that included potentially winning hands from James Blake (new LP–featuring the elusive Frank Ocean), Justin Timberlake (new track) and Kaytranada (new LP). If that wasn’t enough, the track was produced by Ferrari Shepard AKA @StopBeingFamous, the outspoken thinker and commentator and Bey’s comrade in the ongoing project that is A Country Called Earth.
More important than all that, however, the track bangs. Bey announces himself with “Bismillah” before launching into an infectious singsong chant of “Gun-gung-gun” (or maybe “Gone gone gone?”) before demonstrating why his flow is so sorely missed in the game; singing, chatting, freestyling and generally wrecking shop over the huge riddim, which sounds like either the Phantom of the Opera playing organ in the firebombed wreck of a historically black church or a ’90s Monster Shack-era dancehall track accidentally played at 33 1/3 RPM. Three minutes and 22 seconds of vocal soaring over and around the minimal beat, in an unexpected vibratto off the phrase “fuck what you like, needs and wants, you got needs and wants / needs and waaaants” (needs and wants, presumably, supplying the acronym N.A.W.). And then, just as suddenly, the sound is gone, gone, gone. Listen below to the track, apparently recorded today at D Planet Studios, Cape Town South Africa. And prepare to get psyched at the very real prospect of a new Yasiin LP, even if it’s billed as his final salvo of lyrical shots. In conclusion: Wow.