Rapper and film star Mos Def announced he will change his name at the end of the year to Yasiin, the name of the 36th surah, or chapter, of the Quran.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Mos Def announced the change Sept. 4 at the Rock the Bells concert on Governor’s Island in New York City.
Dante Terrell Smith has gone by the name Mos Def since the start of his music career in 1994, but he told Time magazine, “Mos Def is a name that I built and cultivated through the years…I feel that I’ve done quite a bit with that name. It’s time to expand and move on.”
Time speculated that the name change may be an effort by Mos Def to reinvent himself in support of his expanding acting career, including an upcoming appearance in the television series “Dexter”.
Mos Def’s explanation, however, made the reason for the change seem more personal and reflective.
“I didn’t want to have to deal with having any moniker or separation between the self that I see and know myself as,” he told the magazine.
Other entertainers have changed their names, for a variety of reasons. Prince changed his stage name to an unpronounceable character as a way to deal with contract issues related to changing the direction of his music, then back again when he was ready. Rapper Sean Combs went from Diddy to Puff Daddy to P. Diddy because, according to Entertainment Weekly, “he felt like it.”
Mos Def’s full name after the change is not known, including whether he will have a first and last name or just be known as Yasiin.