Yasiin Bey, the hip-hop luminary fka Mos Def, has surprised everyone with the release of a new song called “Basquiat Ghostwriter”. Reportedly recorded just yesterday in Paris, the song takes lyrics and inspiration from the late artist and musician Jean-Michel Basquiat.
“Lyrics taken from Jean-Michel’s paintings, graffiti and notebook sketches,” Yasiin Bey said in a description of the song posted on A Country Called Earth. In the post, he also dedicated the song to the victims of police violence, who have dominated recent news cycles, as well as recently deceased rapper Sean Prince. “Let us be reminded of Sandra bland, Fegurson [sic], Baltimore, and all the injustice of the world, as well as the beauty,” he wrote, adding, “Respect to the family of Sean Price and Brooklyn, from which I and Jean-Michel are from.”
The noisy, jazzy music apparently comes from the album Shades Of from Basquiat’s band Gray. Over the whir of disparate sounds, Bey drops bars of abstract lyricism in stream of conscious-like delivery. “A lot of Bowery bums used to be executives,” he raps, “Pay for suit/ build a fort/ set that on fire.” Take a listen below.