Yasiin Bey (fka Mos Def) has finally made his latest album, Negus, available for public consumption—but you can only hear it at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City from today, November 15 through January 26, 2020. A press release originally announcing the project said it “will continue to unfold as a series of varied installations around the world,” but other cities have not been announced yet.
After handing over their mobile devices, visitors can experience the 8-track, 28-minute recording in an exhibition featuring artwork by Ala Ebtekar, Julie Mehretu, and José Parlá created in collaboration with the elusive rapper, as well as original music by celebrated pianist by Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou.
The album, which won’t be released in “any digital or analog mediums,” was originally recorded in London in 2015 and features production by Steven Julien, Lord Tusk, and Acyde. Bey first debuted the project at a listening exhibition at Art Basel Hong Kong.
In an interview with Highsnobiety, the Brooklyn rapper said he decided to release Negus as an art installation to create “an environment that fosters a focused listening experience, as opposed to a hearing experience, and to couple that with a visual component.”
Bey further described how he wants fans to experience the project:
It’s not about how you’re supposed to feel or think. Just because I made it doesn’t mean I’m an authority in someone else’s emotional space. Instead, I want to clear the space so people can have their own experience with the work, as opposed to being didactic about it. You bring yourself, and you take it from there. I want to experience it, too, so I’m trying to get out of my own way, as it’s not just [my work]. It’s the energy of Brooklyn.
It also isn’t meant as a statement against releasing an album on a streaming service or record label. “I’m not hostile against these other means of presentation and distribution, I’m just following a vision I had, and [am trying] to create as much positive space around it, so that it gets to breathe,” the rapper explained. “It’s not about being all things to all people, or a combative posture. It’s certainly not angry; it’s not a rallying cry or anything like that.”
Tickets cost $25 for adults and $16 for students. Purchase them here.
Although Negus isn’t a conventional release, Bey’s Black Star reunion album with Talib Kweli likely will be. In a recent interview with Beats 1’s Ebro Darden, the latter rapper confirmed the Madlib-produced project is done, but there’s no release date yet.