Mos Def Speaks on Jay-Z and Barclays Center [Details Inside]
Back in September, New Yorkers as well as fans were excited about Jay-Z’s involvement in the opening of the Barclay’s Center. While others are still thrilled, some are not 100% sure that the development was a good idea. Yasiin Bey known as rapper Mos Def, sat down on the night of its opening and penned the poem “On center.stadium.status”. This wasn’t released until now, because he didn’t want it to come off as an attack piece on Jay-Z.
Where’d you write “On.center.stadium.status.”?
I wrote that in New Orleans, on the day they were having the opening for Barclays. People were calling me and asking, “Are you gonna be there, are you gonna be there?“ And it just kind of came to me, rather quickly. I have been what some people might call an opponent to the stadium. I think the word opponent has many meanings. I was concerned about what the stadium’s presence in the community might do. I was concerned.
Why the poem was published:
I didn’t want it to be misconstrued as some sort personal attack on Jay. If I can’t have an opinion, who can? So to quote Jay: “I’m bigging up my borough. I’m big enough to do it.
His feelings about Jay-Z:
I respect Jay. I have great respect for him. I’m a fan. I’m not a fan of everything [he does] but I don’t think you have to be a fan of everything that someone does to have respect for them.
His concern about the Barclays Center:
I was on DeKalb Avenue and Flatbush, probably two months ago, and at the intersection I saw these not-quite-so-young men, in standing traffic, trying to sell bootleg Rolling Stones T-shirts. I thought, “This is the trickle-down economic effect of Barclays in the neighborhood?” I didn’t think of it as a positive.”
What do you want to see change?
My concern is, none of those people who built that stadium know what it’s like to grow up in the projects. And the people in the neighborhood don’t yet benefit from the stadium’s presence in the community. I would love for Barclays and the NBA and whoever else to prove me wrong, by engaging in the community, not just on some [surface] level for the photo op. But to really be concerned with enriching the lives of people in that community.