Mos Def tried to leave South Africa on an unofficial "World Passport" document
The rapper's retort is posted on Kanye West's website
Mos Def, the American hip-hop recording artist and actor, has spoken (and rapped) out against his arrest and detention in South Africa after trying to leave the country on a “World Passport.”
On Kanye West’s website, the rapper took his own twist on his friend and fellow hip-hop star’s latest single, “No More Parties in L.A.,” as he sketchily recited, “No more parties in S.A.”
“Ain’t home arrest, I don’t need to stay,” he rapped.
“I’ll leave and I’ll stay away / I committed no crime any place / Why these police up in my face?”
Following his freestyle performance, he also made a more serious statement. “At this present time, I am currently in Cape Town, South Africa and I am being prevented from leaving unjustly, unlawfully, and without any logical reason.
“They are saying they want to deport my family. They are making false claims against me. Some of these government officials are making false claims against saying that the travel document is fictitious when it is not.”
He signed off the 10-minute message announcing that his longstanding music and acting career will be drawing to a close. “I’m retiring from the music recording industry as it is currently assembled today, and also from Hollywood, effective immediately,” he said. “I’m releasing my final album this year, and that’s that.”
Mos Def, who now goes by the name Yasiin Bey and whose birth name is Dante Terrell Smith, was arrested at Cape Town International Airport for trying to leave the country on an unofficial “World Passport” document, said Mayihlome Tshwete, a spokesman for the South African Department of Home Affairs.
But the South African government defended its actions. “This must be clear, we have no reason, as a country, to refuse anybody entry or departure, as long as such travel is legal,” Mkuseli Apleni, director general of the Department of Home Affairs, said at a news conference. He added that the rapper had entered the country on a visitor’s visa and a U.S. passport.
Smith appeared in court on January 15 but has since been released on bail of 5,000 rand ($298), police representative Noloyiso Twexana said. He is next scheduled to appear in court on May 8.
Apleni confirmed that he last entered the country on November 30 on a visitor visa valid for 90 days, until February 28.
He tried to leave using a “World Passport,” a dubious document. His wife and child tried to check in with their U.S. passports, and immigration officers detected that they had overstayed their visit, Apleni said.
Brooklyn-born Smith, 42, and his family had been living in South Africa “without the necessary permits,” and they were detained for using illegal travel documents as they were leaving the country, Tshwete tweeted.
The name used on the passport was Yasiin Bey.
“This is a tricky case,” Tshwete said, because the person would normally be deported to his or her home country. However, Tshwete says that Smith has renounced his American citizenship.
The artist has had trouble re-entering the United States while living in South Africa, canceling a 2014 tour because of U.S. immigration issues, according to the New York Daily News.
Smith is known for his thoughtful, consciousness-raising hip-hop lyrics but was better known for his acting. He appeared on Broadway in the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Topdog/Underdog” and in several films, including “Monster’s Ball,” “Brown Sugar” and two films with the late Alan Rickman: “Something the Lord Made” and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
As usual, Twitter users made light of the situation.
User Deep Fried Man thinks Smith’s lyrical response will have the government working on its comeback.
Some have already put pen to paper (or keyboard to Twitter).
@Milisa_SJ believes Bey is missing something.
But he does have some sympathy. And a new hashtag.
CNN’s Brent Swails and David McKenzie contributed to this story from Johannesburg.