The New York duo of Mos Def and Talib Kweli
Mos Def (Most Definite)
Mos Def was born Dante Smith on December 11, 1973 in Brooklyn, New York. The oldest of 12 children and stepchildren, Mos Def and several of his siblings grew up with his mother in the Brooklyn projects, while several of his other siblings grew up with their father in New Jersey. Coming of age at the height of New York City's crack epidemic in the 1980s, a young Mos Def found himself surrounded by violence, addiction and crime. Reflecting on his childhood home, the rapper later said, "I believe the projects were a social experiment; we were laboratory rats stacked on top of each other, and people just knew, inherently, that there was something wrong."