‘I Have Been What Some People Might Call An Opponent:” Mos Def Explains Why He Hasn’t Hopped On Jay-Z’s Barclays Center Bandwagon

February 11, 2013  |  

Über-talented rapper and actor, Mos Def Yasiin Bey has been less than quiet regarding his apprehension about the newly constructed Barclays Center, which is conveniently located downtown Brooklyn, New York, despite his deep Brooklyn roots.  The night of the stadium’s September opening, the 39-year-old wordsmith took to his pen and pad and composed a poem entitled, “On center.stadium.status.”  Through the poem, he expressed the heaviness that he felt in regard to the stadium and what it could mean for the Brooklyn community. Yasiin recently sat down with Vulture Magazine and pulled no punches as he expressed his reasoning behind the poem and why it’s nothing personal against Jay. Check out what he had to say.

On why the Barclays Center concerns him:

“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. I thought, “This is the trickle-down economic effect of Barclays in the neighborhood?” I didn’t think of it as a positive.

On his reasoning behind writing the poem:

“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. I was concerned.”

On why he chose to express his views in poem format instead of a song:

“I didn’t want it to be misconstrued as some sort personal attack on Jay. 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.'”

On what Barclays Center representatives can do to change his mind:

“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.”

On not being a Jay-Z hater:

“I respect Jay. I have great respect for him. I’m a fan. I’m not a fan of everything [he does] but I don’t think you have to be a fan of everything that someone does to have respect for them.”

You can check out Mos Def’s poem on the next page. What do you think of his opposition? 

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