Yasiin Bey shocked the music-loving world in January when he revealed both his retirement and his detention in South Africa, where authorities said that he used a fraudulent World Passport and that his family stayed on expired visas. Both of those stories came full circle this week: the South African government dropped charges against him yesterday (November 23) and permitted him to leave so long as he doesn’t return. And on the same day, Bey announced a string of year-end farewell shows at New York’s Apollo Theater and Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center.
If Bey is serious about retirement, the concerts conclude a barrier-smashing career spanning more than two decades across hip-hop, film and social justice activism. From early appearances with De La Soul to “Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star” to his prolific solo career, Bey epitomized the hip-hop vanguard and pushed sonic boundaries with every release.
In anticipation of those final shows, we offer five of our favorite songs from his career. Let us know in the comments if we missed your favorite!