Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) Explains Opposition To Brooklyn's Barclays Center

posted Monday February 11 ,2013 at 05:45PM CST | 32 comments

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.

It looks like not every Brooklyn emcee is happy about the opening of the Barclays Center last year. Now, Yasiin Bey - a/k/a Mos Def - discusses his resistance to the new stadium.

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.

RELATED: Talib Kweli Recalls Diddy Confronting Mos Def Over "Children's Story"

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Comments 32 Posts

  • CROOKS
    i read ur comment about being against the barclay u made a excellent point but i truly believe its wrong to even mention hov cause hov isnt the real reason why the nets left jersey for bklyn hov jus in charge of the marketing thats it hov jus own 1% of the nets thats it i believe u hav to address ur objective in a bettter way to the right person & thats the russian billionaire & last but not least i truly dont believe an individual who has nothing to do wit politic but has everything to do wit acting rapping entertaining shouldnt be spoken regarding politics its better to stay in ur lane cause ur not a politician let alone an experience politician or even a novice in politician it look bad most of all cause its not in ur place to speak ur not a politician & to make it worst ur resume is no where near the russian billionaire bklyn nets owner, HOV'S OR HOV'S WIFE BEYONCE SO IT IST SMART TO SPEAK TO FOLKS IN SUCH HIGH CALIBER CAUSE ITS NOT IN UR PLACE NOWS THATS COMMON SENSE
  • JohnnyACE GRAND MASTER SEN$Ei {{-_-}}
    Hip-hop and the world in general will be much better without Jay-Z, Beyonce, and anyone like them. {{-_-}}
  • dazeone
    I hate Gay Z and I got mad love for Mos but he so smart he is stupid ...the organization is bringing jobs and money in the community ...even the cats selling the shirts ..its revenue
    • Anonymous
      Unfortunately, you don't fully understand his point. Small business were closed and many people had to move and relocate from their homes. Cost of living in downtown Brooklyn is as high as some of the pricier areas in Manhattan. Bootlegging for a small few is not revenue that most can make an honest living off of. Yes, there were jobs that were created by the stadium, but if you ran a small business, would you want to close it to take a minimal paying job no longer working as your own boss. It is a lot deeper than you think.
  • Now
    Here is the true about that part of brooklyn, it use to be More black life around there but the only thing they did was screw it up now the barclays center is there all the niggas are gone because they cant affort to live there anymore, nice get the niggas out make it all white, niggas do nothing but distory and tear down, sorry they tail are poor but how care Peace
    • Anonymous
      get new material bigot
  • expozay
    i'm gay, he's gay, we are all gay. hey..
  • SDK
    I PICK B.O.B.SIDES
  • TOM HARRIS
    2 grown ass men having a disagreement and agreeing to disagree. Hip-hop is growing up.
  • Anonymous
    thattttsss ittt: "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."
  • slick
    mos is cool with dame so he's been taking little shots at hov for awhile now. black on both sides was dope but after that he took the lauryn hill weirdo route
    • R.Pgh
      The Ecstatic was pretty dope. True Magic had some decent shit on it, but The New Danger was pretty bad. I wouldn't say he took the Lauryn Hill route because she just flat out disappeared. Mos focuses more on his movie career, but still drops albums every now and then.
    • Anonymous
      he is only hands down the smartest mc, illest lyricst, sick spitta ever you can ask your favorite rapper they will agree and shake in their boots if they ever had to rap against him in a freestyle or battle or comparison to flow F.A.C.T.S. btw black on both sides is his baby shit ain't even touch the surface of his talent with that one The Ecstatic is my favorite and they keep getting better and better just wait for omfgod with mannie fresh u will shit
  • Anonymous
    I'm from Brooklyn, and I disagree with Mos Def, to create multiple economic revenue streams for the borough this was a huge step, with that comes some casualties, I too shopped at Triangle Sports and it was a landmark in Brooklyn but to create something even more lucrative than a sole proprietor sports store, the stadium was very necessary and fits in well with the BiG Picture, to lose a few homes and the small negative impacts of the stadium being present, is like elephants and ants on see-saws as to what the upside and revenue it will generate. Think Big only a small mind would oppose to something like this.
    • Anonymous
      First off, it wasn't a "few homes". They plan to build luxury condos around there, did you know? More people will be moved out. The purpose of this conversation is that although they are there, like Mos said, lets see them TRULY create an upside for that community. Just because they are there, doesn't mean all the of the neighborhood residents see the trickle down, they don't get first dibs on anything. And feel free to tell the people who lost their homes they were thinking small. Your comment says you are willing to sell out anyone for the sake of "economics". I'd rather sell someone an old Polo shirt than that dream of "trust me", filled with broken promises, greed & deceit that you posted.
  • Beats Center
    I think Mos is right man
  • Anonymous
    yasiin yasiin, preach brother !!!
  • Dee
    Started from the bottom, but we're here by Drake needs a Jay Z verse. Drake is Napolean Dynamite's favorite rapper. Revenge of the Nerds pt.3 ft. Drake, Wiz Khalifa, and more...
  • BradZuk
    I respect Mos tremendously, and of course, agree 100% with his right to speak about this issue from an educated perspective. But I respectfully disagree. The economic significance of building a stadium like this in a struggling community cannot be overstated. From the direct jobs it creates, to the retail/food markets it bolsters, to the exposure it grants the surrounding areas, to the under-market opportunities (tee shirts) it enables, the impact is massive. I acknowledge the drawbacks of any form of economic "uplifting," frequently termed gentrification, in that it displaces poor people, and overshadows existing cultures. But it is blatantly hypocritical and, in my opinion, misguided to take issue with the economic blight and oppression that has plagued the inner-city and then turn around and oppose any actions which cause an influx of cash and resources into the area. You can't have both. The stark reality that many ethnic activists need to face up to is that economic factors outweigh racial factors 100 to 1. Of course people are racist and it is an issue. I would never deny that. But the fuel to their racial hatred is poverty, and the crime that is associated with it. Moreover, the conditions (symptoms) that someone like Mos Def would attribute to racism or generally insensitivity are conditions that can be overcome with economic revitalization. Moreover, even if we could afford to simply support existing oppressed subcultures with federal funds or personal generosity, it would not solve the underlying problems, or be sustainable in any real way.
    • donnis mac
      Allow me to give a perspective from another longtime B'klyn resident. Bruce Ratner's real estate dream for downtown B'klyn is coming true (he's selling his space). The MTA also sold him the rail yards over on west side Manhattan but they couldn't get the Jets to move there. Ask anyone by Yankee Stadium, it doesn't impact the neighborhood like the way many of you are thinking. Brownstones have been selling for millions in Downtown B'klyn (which is actually Biggie's hood and not Jay's) for years. Where the Barclay's Arena (the same bank that was cheating with the world Libor rates) is at has always been a transient area to shop (Atlantic Ave Rail Yard is a garage and transit center for you out of towners), eat, stroll (waterfront) and catch a movie (Old Duffield & Fulton St theaters). Albee Square Mall and Fulton St Mall, where you could go to grandma's (gold fronts), and hit A&S (Macy's). The MTA corporate offices and MHT (old Chase) were there, as Brooklyn Hospital, the federal courthouse, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn Academy Of Music (BAM) and Pratt Institute are nearby, as is JUNIOR'S restaurant. I bought my 3 pairs of New Balance 1500 from Triangle Sports. So are Jay Z or J Cole going to perform at Barclays, where Live Nation will support (Roc Nation's boss), or BAM, where the history of Brooklyn music is? "Economic boost" is nonsense. A lot of people from Manhattan have those Downtown Brooklyn jobs. Gowanus, Brevoort, and Fort Greene still exist. Crumble up your thesis, you lack the minerals and vitamins (O.C.-"Time's Up"). The New York Islanders were a dynasty in Nassau Coliseum when the ribbon was cut. Ask that neighborhood how they have been doing all of these years.
  • future
    I respect Mos is thoughts but I have to disagree with him. To say that he sees few teens selling bootleg items is pretty vague I can counter that with what about all the jobs that The Barclay center has provided? It doesn't take a college degree to work in an Athletic stadium and or field. You look at the numbers there are "by far" more jobs that have been made with the opening of the stadium then lost. Again if Mos feels this way then what is going to do about it. So many artist comment on certain issues but don't do anything about it. Also, if Mos felt this way then how come he didn't sit down with Jay and discuss this? It would of been interesting to see what Jay view point was. Again Jay has a better inside knowledge on the jobs provided with the stadium then any of us do!
    • javi
      Well said. He has great motives and a big heart but this could create alot of jobs in Brooklyn.
  • Anonymous
    Yasiin Bey always with the real.
  • BTMoney
    The three comments below me prove the ignorance present in HHDX comment section, so unfortunate...
    • lol
      Yeah lol they just hating for no reason whatsoever.
    • Anonymous
      Usually internet commenters don't have insightful posts.
  • Yasmin
    Sit yo old ass down
  • DrebinSlevin
    Is this guy ever going to drop any music again? He's like 3 Stacks.
    • Anonymous
      Both Andre 3000 and Mos Def have dropped more high quality music in their lifetimes than most rappers x10. Stop bitching and appreciate their back catalog. I can guarantee you haven't heard all either has to offer.
    • tly507@gmail.com
      DrebinSlevin is a perfect example and product of what todays music has brought us. Constant, new, music. No care for the quality. Quantity over quality is the name of the game. And it is painfully obvious. 3 stacks has CLASSIC records that will NEVER get old. Go back and listen. Same with Mos Def, listen to "BlackStar" classic albuM! Nowadays all people want is a single here and a single there. Albums are becoming obselete. I blame globalization however, within that blame I must give globalization credit for providing access outside of the mainstream to discover new and actually talented artists. Its a double edged sword. I just wish more people would take advantage of it.
    • rmarsh451
      yeah go on youtube, hes making new music with mannie fresh
  • Anonymous
    yeah fuck jay-z