[Interview] Mos Def and Talib Kweli Make Beats for Environmental Children’s Book and Album!

Photo: Mos Def and Aaron Ableman (credit)

Mos Def (also known as Yasiin Bey) and Talib Kweli are two of hip-hop’s most revered MCs — they’ve been in the game for a hot minute (their underground bro-ject Black Star blew up the alt rap scene back in the 90s and is making a comeback in 2012) and are renowned for spittin’ rhymes that are not only siiiick, but socially aware and super smart.

So we’re definitely not surprised but extremely stoked that this dynamic duo have brought their scholarly skillz to a multi-media, pro-planet project that teaches kids about the importance of taking environmental action. Dang, education has really got its groove back, y’all — what with Luda’s “Karma’s World” and now this?!

Pacha’s Pajamas is both a children’s book – narrated by Grammy, Emmy and Golden Globe nominated Mos Def — and an upcoming hip-hop album – featuring both Mos and Talib — that tells the story of a city girl who dreams of uniting the world with a Mother Earth-inspired music festival starring singing plants and breakdancing animals. It’s like Nature’s own ABDC! It’s also a good congrats gift for baby Blue Ivy, right?

And what better way to get kids hype about going green than Talib singing an entire song as a butterfly?! No joke — the epic lyricist penned a flow from the POV of everyone’s fav flying insect called “Butterfly Life,” with lines like this: “Used to be a caterpilla till I metamorphisized/Used to have 16 legs and 6 pairs of eyes.”

Dude, no offense, Captain Planet — but in the imaginary Green MC rap battle in our heads, you just got served!

So we just had to know more about this supa fly sustainable project – the full Pacha’s Pajamas album will be released April 2012; but there’s a free EP and the book is available now online – so we got Mos Def and Aaron Ableman (Pacha’s author) to give us the inside scoop!

How did you get involved with this Pacha’s Pajamas?

Aaron: Some folks Mos Def grew up with started talking about this BALANCE Edutainment project called “Pacha’s Pajamas”, and when he heard the story and music, he knew he wanted to be part it.

What message are you hoping to get across to children?

Mos Def: It’s good to give children a sense of the importance of the environment around them — not just nature but the general environment. I was speaking to my dad recently, he was expressing how being in the presence of nature, enhances people’s intelligence. It’s not just the plants and the animals, but also one another. We’re so dependent on the natural world.  The natural world’s also dependent on us.  It’s good to draw that relationship for young people and give them that idea that as much as nature is dependent on them, they’re also dependent on nature.  If we don’t treat it good, it’s not gonna treat us very good either. The earth was given as a trust to mankind, so we have a responsibility to look after it, take care of it, treat it with respect ’cause it’s a gift from the creator to us. It’s important to impart that message not just to children but to human beings, that we have a responsibility to our own humanity and to the one who has created all, to treat his creation with care and respect.

Can you share a green tip that you always do?

Aaron:[Mos Def and I] are both vegetarians. There’s a lot that young people can do in their daily lives; we just need to inform and cultivate their inner genius, imagination and creativity to making the world a better place.

What are your plans for 2012? A new album or film coming out? Perhaps getting involved in the election?

Aaron: Mos Def and Talib Kweli are releasing their second album as Black Star. They are also both on the Pacha’s Pajamas full length album/hip hop audiobook coming out this spring. And, there’s so much more. All ya’ll should really get out there (online or offline) to support conscious music and media in this critical time.

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Download the free EP!

Download the free EP!

Check out Mos Def and Talib's green beats for yoself!