Mos Def Visits Post-Katrina New Orleans
Mos Def just might have the best hip-hop record of 2009 when all is said and done, but that couldn't matter less to the Brooklyn-bred MC and actor. He's more focused on the political concerns that often define his outstanding lyricism. Take a recent video that finds Mos touring the (still!) struggling City of New Orleans.
"I don't care about anything else," says Mos. "Everything else is low priority. My career, the brass rings that they hand out... I don't give a s---. I don't feel comfortable with my "success." I feel like that's the most ephemeral fantasy to live in if I can have that. But if this s--- is going on, then who the f--- am I? Nobody. If I don't use the power that I've been given in the world to address this s---, then I might as well just go lay in the casket."
Mos Def listens while assorted locals explain how there really hasn't been anything close to proper reconstruction after Hurricane Katrina hit four years ago. Hospitals have been left to rot, nearly 60 schools have been shut down and many teachers remain fired with no real union protection. Many renters without insurance were displaced and received nothing for their loss of lifelong possessions.
When asked why he thinks other rappers don't get very political, Mos' answer was illuminating. "I'm tired of thinking about them dudes I see. Whatever. They do what they want. You pay attention to these rappers and dudes for their income, but they help you do nothing. Every time they come around, they try to get in your pocket... What the hell you need with that?"
The video concludes with a local march to commemorate Katrina. A classic marching band plays celebratory funeral music as the community gathers in the park. Tellingly, Mos soaks it all in and doesn't speak. He's actually learning with us and not acting like he knows everything. It's pretty refreshing.