Yasiin Bey Removes Himself From Thelonious Monk Biopic After Estate Disapproves
Numerous outlets had reported that Yasiin Bey, formerly known by his stage name Mos Def, was cast in the leading role of Jupiter Rising Film’s Thelonious biopic.
Now, after some controversy has been revealed, the Brooklyn rapper-actor has announced that he will no longer be starring as the jazz great and has walked away from the film.
“I was given every indication by the production company that the family was on board,” Bey says in the IG post above. “I took them at their word, and clearly that wasn’t the case.”
Earlier this week, the Peter Lord Moreland and Alberto Marzan-led production company stated that Thelonious would begin next summer with Bey as Monk in the film. However, according to reports, T.S. Monk, son of Thelonious and chairman and co-founder of Rhythm-A-Ning Entertainment, claims that the film was not authorized by Monk’s family and estate.
They are in opposition of its release.
“This project and its announcement are totally unauthorized! I hate the script and I control the music in Thelonious’ catalog,” Monk wrote in a statement. “There is no involvement by anyone in the Monk family with this project, and we actually condemn the effort.”
Bey is no stranger to speaking out against creative and human injustices. The clip released by him, found him in solidarity with the Monk family, in which he explained the reasoning behind him leaving the project. “Let me be clear, if the Monk estate is not happy with it, if Mr. Monk III is not happy with it, then neither am I,” explained Bey.
“To be clear, I was given every indication by the production company that the family was on board. It was one of my primary questions.”
The opportunity to see Bey add another iconic music legend to his filmography would’ve been interesting for audiences to see. After playing Cav in 2002’s Brown Sugar, Bey duck-walked his way across the big screen in 2008’s Cadillac Records as Chuck Berry.
The consolation prize may be The Disconnected, a Steve Elam-directed sci-fi actioner, which has begun pre-production and has Bey attached to it. Or, it may be the follow-up album with the duo known as Black Star. In June, Bey and his compatriot Talib Kweli gave fans an update on the album during an episode of the latter’s weekly podcast, People’s Party with Talib Kweli.
On it, Bey shared his optimism for the project and his frustration with fans pressing him about the status of its release.
“I appreciate your enthusiasm, but that s— is not a steering wheel in my back for you to start spinning and doing donuts like I’m disappointing you,” he said. “If you want the next ‘Black Star’ album that bad, then you make it. So just chill out until we get the s— sorted out cause who the f— is more essential to Black Star than Black Star?”