What Happened to Yasiin Bey Formerly Known as Mos Def, Where is He Now?

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Yasiin Bey formerly known as Mos Def is an articulate and intelligent Brooklyn-born rapper. He has made a lot of impact through his acting and activism than with his recent musical releases. Let’s get to know what’s happening with this artist and so many other interesting facts about him.

Who is Yasiin Bey?

Yasiin Bey is an American hip-hop recording artist, actor, and activist but is most famous for his music. He was born Dante Terrell Smith on December 11, 1973, in Brooklyn, New York City to Sheron Smith and Abdulrahman. He is best known by his stage name Mos Def. He is the eldest of twelve children (plus stepchildren) of his parents. Yasiin Bey attended middle school at Philippa Schuyler Middle School 383, Bushwick, Brooklyn and that was where he developed his love for acting. He dropped out of high school during the sophomore year. He is a Muslim but he was exposed to the religion until he was 13 years old and at age 19, he publicly pronounced his faith in Islam.

Career Beginnings

His music career began with him and his siblings – his brother and sister (DCQ and Ces) – forming a rap group called Urban Thermo Dynamics (UTD) in 1994. And even though the group did not last long, it signaled the launch of Yasiin Bey’s hip-hop career. He would later form a rap duo called Black Star together with Brooklyn based rapper, Talib Kweli and their debut album was released in 1998 under Rawkus Records. He did his first solo album titled “Black on Both Sides” in 1999. His second solo album titled “The New Danger” was released in 2004 and the album was No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and it was his most successful album till date.

Mos Def started his acting career while he was still a child and played roles in television movies, sitcoms, and theater. At the age of 14, he featured in the television movie God Bless the Child which was aired on ABC in 1998. He played the role of Dante who was Bill Cosby’s sidekick in the short-lived detective show The Cosby Mysteries which was produced in 1995. He also featured in the sitcom My Wife and Kids as Damon Wayans the disabled friend of Micheal Kyle.

Yasiin has won several awards in acting. He won “Best Actor Independent Movie” at the 2005 Black Reel Awards for his role as Detective Sergeant Lucas in the Woodman and also won the Image award.

What Happened to Mos Def? Where is He Now?

Many fans are asking what happened to Yasiin Bey and where is he now. First in late 2011, Yasiin Bey, who was then referred to as Mos Def made a public announcement, saying he had plans to legally change his name to “Yasiin Bey” and plans to adopt the name for his recordings and live performances since he has already been using the name privately among his friends and family as far back as 1999. He also decided to move his family to South Africa and distance himself from the Hollywood universe on which he had built his film career.


His moved to South Africa was on a visitors permit and he overstayed his tourist visa. On January 14, 2016, Yasiin was arrested at the Cape Town International airport while he was about to leave the country with a world passport which is not recognized as legal in the country. He was charged to court for violation of local immigration laws. The court ruled that he had 14 days to leave the country and is banned from entering the country for five years.

Yasiin Bey formerly announced in January 2016 that he was retiring from both acting and music. He conveyed this message in a freestyle rap he released on January 20 via cell phone. The recording was posted on kanyewest.com – the website of – who happened to be his longtime friend.

He gave another reason for his retiring in an interview saying he doesn’t want to bring troubles back home to his family or allow them to face the post-traumatic stress (PTSD) from being in the rap game where people are fighting each other and find it hard to get along with one another. Also in the interview, the rapper disclosed his displeasure with the role technology has played in the music industry and how so many platforms give music away without compensating the artist who put in his/her effort.

He continued that the technical process has taken over the content and people have also modified the content to suit the technical process. In a confusing turn of events following his retirement announcement, Yasiin Bey announced in 2018 that he will be doing another Black Star studio album which will be his final album and it will be released later in the year.

Who Was Yasiin Bey Married To?

Yasiin Bey got married to Maria Yepes in 1996. The couple had two daughters together named Jauhara Smith and Chandani Smith. They got divorced in 2006 and shortly after the divorce, he married Alana Wyatt but they also separated after two years. He also had four other children.

Also Read: Top 10 Richest People in the world with full biography and details.