Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, believes Drake makes pop music rather than hip-hop

Yasiin Bey's perspective on Drake: navigating the boundaries between hip-hop and pop
Black Star In Concert - New York, NY
Black Star In Concert - New York, NY / Johnny Nunez/GettyImages

Yasiin Bey, a revered figure in hip-hop renowned for his extensive experience, activism, and skill, recently engaged in a candid conversation on The Cutting Room Floor. When prompted about Drake's place in hip-hop, Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, offered nuanced insights, raising questions about the commercial and agreeable nature of Drake's music.

Yasiin Bey's profound impact on hip-hop spans decades, marked by influential contributions. In a recent conversation with The Cutting Room Floor, he navigated the inquiry of Drake's classification within hip-hop. Bey, while refraining from direct criticism, highlighted the commercial and mainstream elements inherent in Drake's musical expression.

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The host, Recho, posed the question, "Is Drake hip-hop?" Yasiin Bey's response, filled with moments of laughter, reflected his attempt to convey his thoughts without resorting to outright criticism. Bey expressed his perception of Drake's music, categorizing it as "pop" in his eyes. He drew a connection between Drake's sound and its compatibility with commercial spaces, citing scenarios like shopping in a store.

Bey elaborated:

""Drake is pop to me. In the sense, like, if I was in Target in Houston, and I heard a Drake song. It feels like a lot of his music is compatible with... shopping. Or, as you know, shopping with an edge in certain instances." "

Yasiin Bey

The artist acknowledged the likability of Drake's music, using humor to illustrate the consumerist appeal with references to shopping and the abundance of products.

However, Bey raised thought-provoking questions about the long-term impact of this commercialized approach to music. He questioned the sustainability of a culture focused on buying and selling, hinting at a potential collapse and urging consideration of the deeper messages within the art.

""Okay. What happens when this thing collapses?" he concluded. "What happens when the columns start buckling? Are we not in some early stage of that at this present hour? Are we seeing, like, the collapse of an empire? Buying and selling, where's the message that I can use? You know, what's in it for your audience apart from, like, banging the pom-poms?" "

Yasiin Bey

In his critique, Bey prompted reflection on the essence of Drake's music, challenging listeners to consider the underlying messages beyond the catchy tunes and commercial success. He questioned the societal implications and whether there is substance that resonates beyond the surface level.

Yasiin Bey's commentary adds a layer of complexity to the ongoing discussion about the intersection of hip-hop and pop culture. As the genre evolves, artists like Bey bring valuable perspectives, encouraging a deeper examination of the messages conveyed through music. The conversation with The Cutting Room Floor serves as a platform for exploring the dynamic landscape of contemporary hip-hop and its broader cultural implications.

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