yasiin bey, the artist formerly known as Mos Def, has undergone already quite a few iterations throughout his 25-year artistic career– from actor to rapper to musician to actor back to poet and musician again. It’s been a refreshing and provocative evolution; after all, no one should be the same person at 20 as they are at 45.
Well, on the 20th anniversary of the release of his seminal Black on Both Sides album and a decade after his last album, Ecstatic, bey returns with his newest recording, Negus (pronounced neh-goose), which makes its U.S. debut as a multi-media installation at the Brooklyn Museum, Friday, November 15.
In the exhibit Negus, museum-goers don headphones playing bey’s multi-track recording of Negus— which means “king” or “ruler” in Ge’ez, an ancient Semitic language of Ethiopia– while viewing a selection of visual art he has co-curated specifically for Brooklyn Museum, drawing the viewer into an experience that becomes both personal and fully immersive.
Recorded in London in 2015 and produced by Lord Tusk, Steven Julien and Acyde, Negus was first presented in Marrakesh in February 2019, then in Hong Kong and Dubai in March 2019. Each exhibit showing has been tailored to its unique environment.
The exhibit, a time-limited listening experience, is uniquely arranged for the Brooklyn Museum and will be the first time the recording will be heard in the United States.
“Few American art forms have grown to be as globally influential as hip-hop, a genre which was largely crafted on the streets of New York City,” says Lauren Zelaya, director of public programs at the Brooklyn Museum. “We’re excited to present yassiin bey’s groundbreaking work within the genre in a way that is uniquely designed for Brooklyn Museum visitors.”
The installation includes artwork by Ala Ebtekar, Julie Mehretu and José Parlá, as well as a musical compilation by the Ehtiopian pianist Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou. Also in the exhibit is a large textile mural by bey that features collaborative elements with the perfumery Fueguia 1833 and tributes to important historical figures, including Henrietta Lacks, Nipsey Hussle and others.
For tickets and show times, go here. All tickets are for a specific date and time, with 75 tickets available each hour. Same-day, on-site tickets are offered on a first-come first-served basis.
Also, this Saturday, November 16, from 8:00pm – 12:00am, the museum will host a special opening event celebration and dance party around the exhibit where yasiin bey is expected to attend.
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