Brooklyn-born rapper Yasiin Bey, still best known as Mos Def, has been in the headlines for all the wrong, non-music-related reasons lately. The 42-year-old performer and actor was arrested recently for allegedly violating South Africa’s immigration laws, presenting an invalid passport, and trying to keep his family in the country through illegal means. Currently out on bail, Bey will have to appear in court to face these charges on March 8. His family will have to leave the country by January 29. For his part, Bey maintains his innocence and claims to be baffled and frustrated as to why the South African government is harassing him. He expressed these feelings in the form of an a cappella freestyle rap that has been posted to the website of fellow rapper Kanye West. And in light of these troubling events, Bey announced his retirement “effective immediately” from the music business. After one final album, he says he’s done.
Perhaps some good could come from all this. YouTuber Alex Pompliano has created an unofficial new Mos Def track by taking the aforementioned freeystle and layering it over Nick Thorburn’s indelible main theme for the popular Serial podcast. The pairing is ideal, since the low-fi audio quality of the Bey song perfectly matches the sound of the muddy archival recordings and staticky telephone calls frequently heard on Serial. Sarah Koenig and her NPR minions are currently immersed in the mystery of Bowe Bergdahl, but once this cycle of episodes is concluded, Serial will need a topic for its third season. Could Mos Def provide that with his passport dilemma?