The renowned actor and rapper, Mos Def is widely known for his hip hop songs that depict a social themes and consciousness. Fans also identify his memorable performances in Hollywood flicks such as Guide to the Galaxy, The Italian Job and Monster’s Ball.
Although commonly known as Mos Def, the rapper cum actor’s actual name is Dante Smith. Def was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 11, 1973. He belonged to a large family of 12 siblings that included step brothers and sisters. While Mos Def grew up with his mother along with several other children, some of his other siblings lived and grew up with their father. Growing up in the New York of 1980s, Mos Def was exposed to a lot of incidents of violence, crime and also addiction. However, instead of adapting the bad from this environment, Mos Def was keen on framing out a better future for himself. He wanted to be good and do well. He worked hard to steer his life away from drugs and violence aiming towards his passion, arts. By the time, he was 9, he had developed a liking for the hip hop genre of music and theatre. His first acting performance was in a school play while he was in grade 5. Later, he enrolled in Phillipa Schuyler Middle School, a performing arts institution. He then moved on to another similar school, Talent Unlimited High School. He landed his first real acting job during his freshman year in the TV movie God Bless the Child. Soon after Mos Def obtained more roles including the series, You Take the Kids and The Cosby Mysteries. It was also during this time that Mos Def was introduced to the New York hip hop scene.
In 1997, Mos Def released his first solo single, Universal Magnet that instantly became an underground hit. The single also helped him gain a record deal with Rawkus Records. He then collaborated with Talib Kweli and produced the most critically acclaimed rap album of the year. A year later, Mos Def released his own debut solo album that made him an overnight star. His most famous singles were Mathematics and Ms. Fat Body. People looked upon him as an intelligent and socially conscious celebrity.
Even with the massive success of his music, Mos Def shifted his focus back to acting and excelled once again. He gave memorable performances in movies such as Showtime, Bamboozled, The Italian Job, Carmen: A Hip Hopera and Monster’s Ball. His role as a heart surgeon in the HBO mini series, Something the Lord made, earned him Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for Best Actor.
Once again in 2004, Mos began working on his second music album, The New Danger featuring the single Sex, Love and Money that got nominated for the Grammys. His third successful album, True Magic was released in 2006 followed by a fourth album in 2009, The Ecstatic which was also nominated for the Best Rap Album at the 2010 Grammy awards.
On personal front, Mos has two daughters with Maria Yepes whom he married in 1996. The couple parted ways 10 years later. He then married Alana Wyatt but separated after 2 years.