Hip-hop's favorite enigma Yasiin Bey has announced his return to music. On Friday, accomplished producer FunkinEven (Steve Julien) took to Twitter with a tweet that not only unveiled Bey's upcoming Negus album, but also described the process in which Negus will be heard.
Julien tweeted a picture that featured the album's eight-song tracklist (on which the first track is numbered as 0) as well as a short synopsis of the project.
"Yasiin Bey's Negus is presented as a sound installation, it is unavailable for purchase via digital or physical platforms," the description reads. "Produced by Lord Tusk, Steven Julien, ACyde, and recorded in London in 2015, Negus will be presented as an immersive listening experience for the first time during Art Basel."
Negus was first announced in December 2016 under the working title Negus in Natural Person. It was one of two albums that Yasiin Bey claimed to be completed. But fans did not know if they would ever hear these projects since Bey formally retired from music in October 2016.
"I'm retiring for real this year, this week. With the 17th anniversary of Black on Both Sides being released," Bey said in a 2016 video posted to his official Facebook page. "I am grateful to have had the career that I have been able to enjoy."
Although he stayed true to his retirement for close to a year, in 2018, Bey began to drop features like his placement on the Kid Cudi ans Kanye West album Kids See Ghosts. The reception to these features, plus a professed desire to create, might have swayed Bey to finally drop Negus.
While Negus' debut at this year's Art Basel Hong Kong will be a monumental moment for hip-hop, it is unclear if this is the "end" of his retirement. As stated in the tweet, Negus is full of nearly five-year-old tracks and not "new" material. Also, his decision to present the album as an installation that can't be purchased or streamed doesn't make him a "recording artist" in the sense of profiting off one's creation. Despite this, hearing some never-heard-before lyrics from one of rap's most prolific MCs will be an unmatched experience for those in attendance.
Currently, it is unknown if Negus will become a traveling installation or specific to 2019 Art Basel Hong Kong.