Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) Explains Opposition To Brooklyn's Barclays Center
Yasiin Bey discusses why he opposes the new Barclays Center and says it's not a "personal attack" on Jay-Z.
In a recent interview with Vulture, Yasiin opened up about a recent poem he wrote in opposition to the opening of the Brooklyn Nets' new home, titled "On.center.stadium.status." He explained that he feels the construction of the stadium has had serious economic implications for Brooklyn's residents, including the loss of businesses and homes.
"I have been what some people might call an opponent to the stadium...I was concerned about what the stadium’s presence in the community might do," he said of the poem. "I saw one thing that was kind of a telling sign. I was on DeKalb Avenue and Flatbush, probably two months ago, and at the intersection I saw these not-quite-so-young men, in standing traffic, trying to sell bootleg Rolling Stones T-shirts. [Laughs] I thought, 'This is the trickle-down economic effect of Barclays in the neighborhood?' I didn’t think of it as a positive...people lost their homes, people lost their businesses. Triangle Sports, it took up a whole block, been there a hundred years — they gotta go! That’s the market."
However, Yasiin doesn't want fans to misconstrue the poem as a personal attack on Jay-Z, who worked with the Nets organization to bring the team to his hometown. Bey explained that he has a great deal of respect for the Marcy Projects native, but that he felt it was his duty to shed light on the surrounding issues at hand.
"I was actually pretty hesitant to have it published, because I didn’t want it to be misconstrued as some sort personal attack on Jay," he said. "In the world of Hip Hop and certain parts of the media, you take a statement and you turn it into Wrestlemania, you make the Himalayas out of molehills. I wasn’t interested in that. I respect Jay. I have great respect for him...I’m from the town too. I’m from the same neighborhood, the same projects. My grandmothers, my moms, my uncles — my first five years in life were at Marcy Projects. If I can’t have an opinion, who can? So to quote Jay: 'I’m bigging up my borough. I’m big enough to do it.'"
He added, "I would love for Barclays and the NBA and whoever else to prove me wrong, by engaging in the community, not just on some [surface] level for the photo op. But to really be concerned with enriching the lives of people in that community."
Mighty Mos isn't the only member of the Hip Hop community to take a critical look at the Barclays Center. Dallas Penn, Rafi Kam and Casimir Nozkowski released a documentary in 2010 titled "Stadium Status," which analyzed the construction of the Barclays Center, as well as the new Yankees Stadium and Citi Field.