Yasiin Bey is among the rare amount of American-born emcees with permanent residencies overseas. Often a critic of the American political system and the treatment of its citizens, the rapper formerly known as Mos Def recently sat down with Beats By Dre and spoke about being limited creatively in his native land.
“As an artist and as a human being, working in the way that I work in the world today,” he explained. “It’s really America’s a very challenging place for me. Sure there’s great business opportunities, familiarity and all that. But given the current social, political, economic climate, it’s very difficult. Unnecessarily difficult. To create to the degree of fullness, the type of robust, type of creativity that I like to have, it’s very difficult for me to produce that here.”
Bey would go onto explain that he still values his support from home but feels he is most comfortable elsewhere.
“Earth is a very big and open place,” he said. “That doesn’t mean I don’t value my family or my audience here in America. It’s just that I needed to take some time to put myself in environments where I felt good… Human beings are a lot more complex and dynamic than, ‘This guy is this one thing, that girl is this one thing,’ and my music has always been about showing that dynamic.”
Last year, it was reported that Yassin Bey was banned from re-entering the United States for unspecified reasons. It was later found that he emigrated to Europe on his own free will and has since returned to America for performances.
Watch the full interview segment below: