About Mos Def:
Regarded as one of the world’s most renowned and prolific lyricist, the 30-something virtuoso has crafted an illustrious career, while injecting his unconventional and often political artistry into the pulse of the contemporary urban musical landscape. The native Brooklynite’s creative evolution has been a gradual development, from his humble beginning as a magnetic b-boy, delivering thought provoking prose during organic street corner ciphers, creating a fertile training ground for his multiple talents and socio-economic/political awareness. The outspoken philanthropic MC has been embraced by academic intelligentsia, addressing issues ranging from the plight of political prisoners to social injustices in third world countries. Whether writing letters of encouragement to ostracized Black Panther member Assata Shakur or sounding off political anthems in opposition to Hurricane Katrina the urban wordsmith has never been defeated by controversy. His unique blend of humor and charismatic wit has assisted with mastering the art of showmanship in music, tv, film and theater. The Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominated street scholar has not only demonstrated his versatility but his fortitude and promise as a thespian, gracing the silver screen in a spectrum of blockbuster hits including 16 Blocks, The Italian Job; Brown Sugar, Monster’s Ball, Journey to the End of the Night, Cadillac Records and Be Kind Rewind. Next up he will play the iconic sidekick “Mouse” alongside Ezikeal "Easy" Rawlins in the detective film Little Scarlet, based on the novel by Walter Mosley. As a TV host he brought us six seasons of the standout Peabody Award Winning HBO Def Poetry Jam series, providing the ultimate intermediary between underground spoken word poets and seminal icons. The appellation of his current musical project The Ecstatic parallels his inimitable personality--bold, inspiring and passionate--while the sheer ingenuity of Black on Both Sides featuring his partner-in-rhyme celebrated MC, Talib Kweli, remains one of hip-hop's classic archetypal works of art.
About Erykah Badu:
Born Erica Wright in Dallas, Texas the young ingénue grew up listening to '70s soul and '80s hip-hop. However Erykah Badu drew more comparisons to Billie Holiday upon her breakout in the late 90’s, after the release of her debut album, Baduizm. The grooves and production on the album were bass-heavy R&B, but Badu’s languorous, occasionally tortured vocals and delicate phrasing immediately removed her from the legion of cookie-cutter female R&B singers. A singer/songwriter she found a #12 hit with her first single "On & On," which pushed the album to #2 on the charts. Her Live album soon followed, covering songs by icons Chaka Khan, Roy Ayers, The Heatwaves and Mary Jane Girls. Live received a Grammy nomination for ‘Best R&B Album’ while the global hit single “Tyrone” received a nomination for ‘Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.’ In 2000 she returned with her highly anticipated second studio album, Mama’s Gun co-produced by Badu, James Poyser, Bilal and Jay Dee and contained the hit single "Bag Lady." Worldwide Underground, a loose affair billed as an EP despite being longer than many full-lengths came in 2003. After a 5 year hiatus she returned in 2008 to sell close to 400,000 copies of New AmErykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War, an esoteric conceptual album featuring impersonal lyrics and topics such as poverty, urban violence and cultural identity. As an actress Badu appeared in the films Blues Brothers 2000, The Cider House Rules, House of D, Before the Music Dies, and Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. She also appeared in scenes of the music video of Common's video for “The Light” as well as making a special appearance on the UPN sitcom Girlfriends. More recently the often hailed neo-soul queen was named the latest muse to fashion designer Tom Ford in 2008 as the face of his White Patchouli fragrance. Later this year she will release New Amerykah Part 2; Return of the Ankh where she has gone back in the studio with longtime collaborator James Poyser.
About Jay Electronica:
Jay Electronica is a rapper and producer known for his use of percussionless film soundtracks as a background for his abstract lyrical style, and his associations with Erykah Badu, Just Blaze and Nas. He produced the first track, "Queens Get the Money", on the 2008 Nas album Untitled. Nas describes him as having provided "the Jay Electronica sound". He toured North America with Nas, and was part of the Rock the Bells International Festival Series in 2008. The unconventional nature of much of his music, and the lack of conventional release methods for that music, have since made him the object of much attention. He is perhaps best known for the piece of music Act 1: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge), 15 continuous minutes of music, without drums, built from Jon Brion’s soundtrack to the film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. There are five segments or movements, marked by changes in music and mood, raps by Electronica, and occasional snippets of sampled dialogue (children arguing in Kurdish, Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka.) The first segment is spoken word by Just Blaze and Erykah Badu describing the artist over piano music.Originally from the Magnolia Projects in New Orleans, Louisiana, Electronica has lived in Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Denver and Detroit where he recorded his Style Wars EP with several J Dilla beats, meeting the producer subsequently to ask for permission to use the recordings as a demo. The nature of the piece of music, along with the nature of its appearance, led to a slow build-up of interest in Electronica as an enigmatic figure. Style Wars gained wider circulation, and other tracks, such as the dream-inspired “Dimethyltrptamine,” appeared. In January 2008, Giles Peterson’s 90-minute Giles Peterson Worldwide was devoted to the rapper. In 2008 Hiphopdx.com called him "arguably...the most talked about new emcee last year ... at times...more like a myth or urban legend than an actual rapper", and URB Magazine ran a cover story on the artist under the banner "Jay Electronica: A Spotless Mind :: An MC’s mystery revealed", which referred to his wanderings as his being "like some sort of hip-hop Jack Kerouac.” Jeff Weiss' piece for the L.A. Weekly, "Jay Electronica: Much Better Than His Name Would Suggest", acknowledged that the rapper could be fairly described as "one of the most buzzed about rappers of 2008." According to URB, Act II: Patents of Nobility will feature Nas, and will be the second of a putative trilogy.