While you were looking elsewhere, Yasiin Bey's released about an album’s worth of music through the first seven months of 2016.
With the release of “Seaside Panic Room,” Yasiin Bey has now released six new songs (and performed another) under the new duo of Dec. 99th, comprised of Bey and a producer brand new to the scene, Ferrari Shepherd.
Several months ago, when being detained in South Africa, Yasiin announced that he would be retiring from rap, and making his next album his final one. He later announced Dec. 99th, the aforementioned new duo, and has since released six new songs, and performed a seventh: “N.A.W. ,” “Tall Sleeves,” “Local Time,” performance footage of the BADBADNOTGOOD-assisted “Arcade,” “HYMN,” and this week’s release, “Seaside Panic Room.” Listen to the latter below, and visit their SoundCloud for the others.
Does Yasiin still plan on releasing a formal full-length album, or are these recent drops just inspired loosies? Or is he sneaking this new album out, song by song, without us realizing it? So many questions, very few answers.
Either way, we’re hearing Yasiin Bey at perhaps his most free ever. He always comes across as self-expressive, but his creativity feels so much more unbridled here. Everything about these songs is new. The production is completely foreign to Yasiin’s already versatile sounds, and vocally he is doing a mix of rapping, singing, scatting, conversation, and seemingly everything in between. There's none of the laser focus or boom bap of Black On Both Sides, none of the rock experimentation of The New Danger, and none of the Indian rhythms of The Ecstatic. The music is completely different.
Yasiin sounds utterly uninterested in anything other than expressing himself right now, which is a rarity for artists with his popularity. Whether his songs stick with you or not, this run has been a truly fascinating look into one of the most creative minds hip-hop has ever seen. Yasiin plays honestly and by his own rules, whether you've been listening or not.
By William E. Ketchum III, on Twitter at @WEKetchum
Art Credit: Dustin Watson