Yasiin Bey’s (Mos Def) first pre-retirement album, ‘December 99th,’ is here

Mos Def
Yasiin Bey
(Matt Sayles / Associated Press)

The first of three albums from Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) has arrived. Bey and producer Ferrari Sheppard’s collaborative project, “December 99th,” was released on Wednesday.

Originally set for Dec. 9 — to keep with the duo’s numerical name (the pair goes by Dec 99th) — the album is now exclusively available for streaming on Tidal. 

Sheppard produced the entire project, which includes singles “N.A.W.,” “Local Time” and “Seaside Panic Room,” which were independently released earlier in the year.

“December 99th” is the first of three projects Bey plans on rolling out before retiring from hip-hop after spending much of the year out on bail in South Africa for violating local immigration laws. In January he was charged with using a false passport and travel document while attempting to leave the country.


The rapper-actor was using a “world passport,” issued by the World Service Authority, a pro-freedom movement that few nations recognize as a passport grantor.

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Bey is planning another joint project, this time with Mannie Fresh, called “As Promised” and his own record, “Negus In Natural Person.” He hasn’t announced release dates for either album. 

To mark his impending retirement the rapper and actor has partnered with both the Apollo Theater and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for a limited run of shows that will serve as his final U.S. performances. Each night he plans on performing tracks from a different album alongside new material.


The engagement begins Wednesday at the Apollo and Thursday’s show at the iconic Harlem theater will be live-streamed to Tidal. Bey performs at the Kennedy Center Dec. 31 to Jan. 2.  

Late last month, he was granted permission to leave after he “unreservedly apologized to the government of South Africa,” the country’s home affairs department said. Bey was declared an undesirable person and barred from re-entry into South Africa.

He said he did not use his U.S. passport for “social and political” reasons. 

Listen to album track “Blade In the Pocket” below:

For more music news follow me on Twitter:@GerrickKennedy

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