Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) at HMV Forum, London | Live Review



Despite the heat and sweat of this prelude to summer in London, Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) performed at the HMV Forum in Kentish town on Saturday (May 26) with a show that unfortunately left most people in the audience feeling hotheaded by the end of the night.

As I arrived, the temperature and vibe was high. The support deejay was kicking out a little old and new R&B, paving the way for a much-anticipated artist who, judging from my previous efforts to see him live at Glastonbury 2011, is quite reclusive when overseas.

After some technical difficulty, Yasiin arrived on stage to an audience shouting, “Mos Def!” They came for Mos Def, they came for Black Star. However, we weren’t in for the fan favourites.

Spitting lyrics into a muffled microphone over past tracks like “Umi Says” and some much-loved J Dilla, Yasiin performed a one-man show with mostly brand new, rough and heavy tracks and current beats that were far from his Black Star days. The +1 I brought with me to the gig was just as confused as I about what he was playing.

Performing from 10-11pm without the encore that everybody was demanding, Yasiin shouted the famous Russell Crowe several times throughout the show, “Are you not entertained?!” For £20+ a ticket, I can assure you that the answer was ‘no’. Loud “Boos” were vibrating the eclectic crowd by the end of the night. Fans felt let down, and so did I. There wasn’t much for the time he was on.

The night was an example of what Questlove once said to Tim Westwood in an interview: that London is used by established artists in small venues as a place to try their new material to gauge its reception. My opinion is Yasiin should go back to the kitchen and cook up some of that old Mos Def soup.

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