Saturday, December 24, 2016

Yasiin Bey & Ferrari Sheppard Unleash 1 of 3 Final Albums, Dec. 99th; Perform "Seaside Panic Room/N.A.W." with ?uestlove On The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (AWGE/A Country Called Earth)

"Dark bodies, bright crest, the kings grew nervous.
A boy drew a gun, and then sold the portrait. And then used the cash to heat the stove at the palace.
Soon. Very soon,"
Yasiin Bey & Ferrari Sheppard (collectively known as Dec. 99th) wrote within a mysterious statement concerning the recent delay of their self-titled debut album; Dec. 99th—one of three final albums Bey has planned before his 2017 retirement from music and acting—was scheduled for a December 9th release exclusively on TIDAL, however, it never dropped, as expected and was finally unleashed earlier this week nearly two weeks late on December 21st. The Artist Formerly Known As Mos Def and writer turned producer Ferrari Sheppard have slowly been leaking out music as Dec. 99th for the past year or so... but I first remember seeing Sheppard's name attached to Yasiin Bey's A Country Called Earth-released Electric Wire Hustle remix "Marigolds (Chaser)" back in Summer 2015 when my girlfriend and I were travelling across Poland. If you'll remember correctly, that following January, Bey was stranded in South Africa for allegedly trying to leave with a fraudulent "world passport," an issue which was only solved and ratified as recently as November 22nd following a proper apology to the Government of South Africa. Although Dante Smith and his family lived in Cape Town from 2013 onward, he has since been deemed an "undesirable person" and will hereby not be granted re-entry to South Africa. Yasiin Bey has remained sporadically (in)active since his last album as Mos Def, 2009's The Ecstatic—having released nearly two albums-worth of remixes, covers playlists, features, etc. including everyone from A$AP Rocky to DOOM, as well as a few non-album solo singles.

Ferrari Sheppard accompanied Yasiin Bey (billed simply as "Dec. 99th") on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon this past Thursday night-Friday in what I believe to have been his first network television appearance since performing either The New Danger's "Close Edge" or Kanye's "Two Words" on Chappelle's Show around 2003-06. It appears as though Bey & Sheppard's dimly-lit and rather sparse Fallon performance of "Seaside Panic Room/N.A.W." was assisted by a side stage-seated drummer, which I personally believe, very well could have been The Tonight Show bandleader ?uestlove, especially considering Mos Def-helmed Black Star and The Roots' 1990's-early 2000's Soulquarians connection. While his Dec. 99th output thus far, appears to be a slight departure from his previous work as Mos Def (full disclosure: The New Danger is without a doubt one of my "desert island" albums), it's great to see Yasiin Bey back in full form, safely back in the states, and back in the public eye once again! I have yet to hear the majority of Dec. 99th's debut album, mainly because I absolutely refuse to sign up for a "free" TIDAL subscription, but judging by singles "Local Time," "N.A.W." "Seaside Panic Room," and "Tall Sleeves," it appears to be a slightly more subdued, half-sung half rapped André 3000-esque effort, which by all means, is far from a bad thing!

It's largely unclear as to when exactly, but Bey himself declared that he's indeed "retiring this year [2017] for real," but will still appear within two films, one including director Stev Elam's The Disconnected, which he committed to prior to announcing his retirement. Upon his return to Brooklyn, Yasiin Bey & Ferrari Sheppard have announced the existence of two more as-yet-unreleased albums in addition to Dec. 99th: long-rumored Mannie Fresh-produced As Promised (previously titled OMFGODBKNOLA) and one final Bey solo album, Negus In Natural Person, which may or may not be his long-completed G.O.O.D. Music album that supposedly rendered close friend and label head Kanye speechless. "I’m moving onto other things, still being creative. You know, definitely fashion, textiles, and just art. Whatever I can create that’s beautiful and useful—that’s what I wanna do," Yasiin Bey enthusiastically revealed within a recent Facebook Live video update. He's playing a sting of "farewell" shows, all of which will be live streamed on TIDAL, at DC's John F. Kennedy Center December 31-January 2nd and two shows at London's O2 Forum Kentish Town January 26-27th. And as Run-DMC once rhymed all too well: "so, open your eyes, lend us an ear... we want to say, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!"

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