Friday, February 29th, 2008...2:02 am
A Thursday Night — Dodgeball and Mos Def
My Thursday Night
I bounced out of work early tonight and headed uptown for some dodgeball playoff action. My team, Dodgeball 2.0, consists of NextNY entrepreneurs and we’ve been enjoying a decent amount of success in our second season. While I’m not in love with dodgeball leagues (awkwardly intense) I’ve enjoyed playing on this team. I love the personalities and energy of the team and it’s nice to blow off steam with people who share a common entrepreneurial path. Unfortunately, we had a few key players missing this week to a techy conference in Miami. Although we split our four matches it wasn’t enough to advance.
I got out of dodgeball just in time to check out a Mos Def conversation at the 92nd street Y. I’ve always liked his style and was interested to hear what he had to say. I learned about the event on an Urban Daddy newsletter earlier in the day and sent out an email to friends to see if anybody else was interested. There were no bites so I rolled solo.
I’m super glad I went as I was really impressed with Mos Def. He is such an astute observer of society which he then processes in his own unique way. Mos Def has the amazing ability to articulate his thoughts in such a rhythmatic flow that makes his words even more captivating. He speaks in such a deliberate and patient manner. It seems like he pauses in mid-sentence to scan his own mental dictionary for the perfect word or phrase and then nails it every time. He gets you to want to listen to what he has to say next. I think that is called charisma.
Some of the topics that were discussed were his musical and theatrical beginnings as a boy, Barack Obama and the presidential elections, society’s use of the N-word, some of the major influences in his life, his new movie Be Kind Rewind, and his thoughts on the current state of hip hop. To the crowds delight he freestyled a verse from an album that he is working on that showed off his amazing talent and then played another track from his album called Pretty Dancer as a tribute to Muhammad Ali.
It struck me that Mos Def is one of those people who defines cool. He is so confident, positive, easy going, articulate and thoughtful that instead of trying to be cool, he is just himself and sets the standard for cool. At one point he talked about the concept of being on the edge and the ability to turn the edge into the center. He wasn’t talking about himself but it would have been appropriate. The dude next to me was taking notes throughout the interview and I wish I had as well as he continuously dropped nuggets of wisdom. He referenced Howard Zinn and MLK Jr. Finally, I was impressed how far Mos is able to take his own unique thoughts and how well he can develop them. He spoke a lot about intuition (especially when asked a pointed question about his claim on the Bill Maher show that he doesn’t believe that Osama Bin-Laden was behind 9/11) and seems to have an intrinsic trust in his own views. He never tries to draw back to the prevailing societal viewpoint. He isn’t afraid. He’s not trying to be controversial or put down society – he just sees it the way he sees it and that works for him.
I also enjoyed the black culture experience of the event as most of the audience was black. Sometimes if you look at the same thing through a different lens you see a totally different picture. People like to define race by the color of one’s skin but for better or worse it seems like there is a lot more culture, history and values baked into it.
So props to Mos Def. I’m putting him in the top 10 people I would like to share a beer with — which is a blog post that is definitely waiting to be written.
Hit me up if you have any cool NYC events on the calendar. I’m always in the mood for some athletic activity or the chance to be inspired.
Here is a video clip of Mos Def reciting an excerpt of a Malcom X speech…
UPDATE: I got some blog love from the 92nd Street Y’s very own blog here.