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The Awl:

The name dates back to Bey’s first trip to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj in 1998. “When he came back, he came back with the name Yasiin,” Kweli told me. “He didn’t ask anyone to call him that, but I definitely remember him saying, ‘My name is Yasiin.’”

Bringing “Yasiin” out publicly over the end of 2011—“unleash[ing] it,” as one friend put it—it became clear that over time Bey had begun to see the name “that the streets taught me,” as he told MTV, had become “something that could be boiled down into a persona. Or a product. Or a brand.” The name Yasiin Bey, on the other hand, would allow him, he told Schaefer that evening with the Brooklyn Phil, to “reassert my own humanness.”




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