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This is kind of old in internet time (5 days) but I haven’t seen it covered in many places. The video above is from last Friday’s Real Time with Bill Maher and features Mos Def, Salman Rushdie, and Christopher Hitchens. Mos Def begins his streak of retardation at about the 2 minute mark and sustains it for the duration of the succeeding video below. You must watch both videos to understand on what I’m commenting.
Look at how stupid Mos Def acts. It’s interesting because he is commonly touted as one of the most intelligent rappers around, a sentiment with which I agree, but that’s not to say that Mos Def is more intelligent than most people, just most rappers.
For those who missed it, Mos Def asks if Al Qaeda or the Taliban have a clear organizational goal. Hitchens and Rushdie both give him an answer that, yes, they do have a so-called manifesto, it is to restore Islam to a place of supreme (political, social, etc.) power in the world. For some reason Mos Def asks the same question again and then says that he doesn’t believe what the news or any of the guests on Maher’s show tell him anyway (so why did he ask in the first place?) at which point Hitchens shows the audience how a truly intelligent person acts. Hitchens breaks down Mos Def and admonishes him for the idiotic nonsense that is coming out of his mouth. Mos Def then claims that he has some sort of automatic legitimacy simply because he is from Brooklyn, implies that Hitchens is gullible and/or can’t determine strong evidence from weak evidence because his background is not one of poverty, and accuses Maher of conspiratorially planning this event. The audience applauds Mos Def consistently, which worries me.
Unfortunately, after watching these videos I cannot look at Mos Def in the same way that I previously did. This whole exchange reminds me of my ultra-liberal college professors who insisted that hip hop studies is a legitimate area of academic interest, really? If you want to entertain yourself, and maybe appreciate the abilities of an artist, then listen to Mos Def’s music. If you want to educate yourself, then read a Christopher Hitchens book or column. If you have any doubts, simply refer to the videos above.