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Yasiin Bey Pulls Out of Thelonious Monk Biopic Following Disapproval of Musician's Estate

One day after we reported that Yasiin Bey, better known to music fans by his former stage name Mos Def, would be headlining a biopic about Jazz legend Thelonious Monk, the superstar has exited the project.

Yasiin Bey
Today, Bey announced that he will not move forward with the project — which was set to begin production next summer under its working title “Thelonious”— without the blessing of Monk’s family, which the musician’s son made clear following the announcement of Bey’s participation that it had not been given to production company Jupiter Rising Film.

TS Monk told Pitchfork that Monk’s estate had not approved the film by: “This project and its announcement are totally unauthorized! I hate the script and I control the music in Thelonious’ catalog. There is no involvement by anyone in the Monk family with this project, and we actually condemn the effort.”

Bey who was set to play the titular role posted a four-minute Instagram video today. In it he claimed that he’d been told that the Monk family approved the film.

“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 — just as important as the music, if not more important, that the family supported the project,” Bey said. “I took them at their word, and clearly that wasn’t the case.

A talented musician in his own right, who has also shown flashes of brilliance on the big screen, Bey added that he’s still super-excited and that if there’s an opportunity to tell this type of story in the right way he is up for it but, “… only with the estate’s approval and full involvement and acceptance… Perhaps another time, under better auspices, but not right now.” 

Here is Bey’s full response:

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