The photographic work for The Art of Rap: Remixed & Mastered unites the distinct creative visions of Phade and Shabazz who documented two sides of life at the center of Hip Hop’s cultural genesis in 1980s East New York: Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx. Phade presents color photographs of the budding celebrities who would come to define the birth of Hip Hop, while Shabazz’ black-and-white images documented the culture of the era as it was being defined. Whether subtly or overtly, from within the culture or as an observer of it, the work for this show combines two separate yet tangential perspectives that document how Hip Hop emerged to become a dominant force on fashion, music, art and mainstream culture.
Shot from 1981-1989 with a Yashica camera and color film, Phade’s work captures the faces of Hip Hop’s nascence from the inside, just as the genre was emerging. Of this work, Phade says:
“I caught these images by making everyone around me feel comfortable. The picture of Biz Markie and Fab Five Freddy is a slide I shot in 1989. It was a time that can never be visited again; a time when Hip Hop was young and defining the culture and the wardrobe was left to the graffiti artist searching for identity.”
For his early work from 1980-1990, Jamel Shabazz shot with a Canon AE-1 camera with standard 50mm lens. His film of choice for his black and white images was Kodak Tri-x 400. A self-described “grass roots” photographer, Shabazz had this to say of his practice:
“The photographs I have been blessed to create both in this body of work and in general, are all part of a visual diary spanning over half of my life time. Since having this wonderful gift of vision and purpose, I feel duty bound to creating images that provoke thought and inspire creativity. More importantly, I feel obligated to use this great gift of sight, to contribute to the preservation of world history and culture, like so many documentarians before me.”
Miz Metro, the curator of The Art of Rap: Remixed & Mastered, was interested in creating an exhibit that would express the innovative culture of hip-hop by allowing the viewer to explore different perspectives and participate in creating the narrative. Re-invention is a key theme in the history of hip-hop, seen in the sampling, remixing, street art, and fashion of the movement from its underground origins into the present. The work presented is accordingly multi-faceted. Phade created his work from within the subculture while Shabazz captures it from the outside. Ryan Keeley reinterprets Phade's photographs just like Keith Shocklee remixes a sample or a beat.
"Grandmaster Caz said, 'Hip-hop didn’t invent anything…hip-
Phade is a legendary New York graffiti artist and photographer credited with creating the style that is popularly attributed to the early roots of the hip-hop movement. Along with his crew Shirt Kingz, he defined the aesthetic of early hip-hop culture, making custom clothing as part of the Shirt Kingz crew for pioneers like Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J, and Jay-Z. For The Art of Rap, ArtNowNY presents a series of Phade's color photographs that preserve the iconic moments of the era. Phade founded and works closely with the arts education non-profit Unity Charity, and continues to write graffiti and produce murals to this day.
Jamel Shabazz is a fine art and fashion photographer and photojournalist who was born, raised, and currently live and works in Brooklyn, NY. Drawing from a 30 year career in fashion, fine art, and photojournalism, Shabazz' work is an extensive visual narrative that falls under the category of seconds of his life. His work has been featured in The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Kravets / Wehby Gallery, and The Powerhouse Gallery in New York, The African American Museum in Philadelphia, and internationally at La Case Gallery in Milan and The Dadi Torjon Gallery in Buenos Aires. His group exhibitions in New York shows at MoCada, Prince Street Gallery, New York University, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Saatchi & Saatchi, as well as shows at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit and the Russell Simmons Estate in East Hampton. Shabazz also has been a guest artist at The Bronx Museum Teen Coucnil, The Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, The International Center for Photography, and The Studio Museum of Harlem.
Miz Metro, aka Laura O'Reilly, is a native New Yorker, singer-sound-
ArtNowNY is an urban contemporary art gallery located in the Chelsea arts district of New York City. Founded by Joseph Gross in 2012, the gallery focuses on the representation of a diverse stable of emerging and established artists working in variant mediums and genres. With a curatorial program that highlights the contemporary experience of aggregate cultural influence, ArtNowNY speaks to the collector in everyone.
For Gallery Information Visit: http://www.ArtNowNY.com
About “Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap”
Ice-T takes us on an intimate journey into the heart and soul of Hip-Hop with the legends of rap music. This performance documentary goes beyond the stardom and the bling, to explore what goes on inside the minds, and erupts from the lips, of the grandmasters of rap.
Recognized as the Godfather of Gangsta Rap, Ice-T is granted unparalleled access to the personal lives of the masters of this art form that he credits for saving his life. Interspersed with the performer’s insightful, touching and often funny revelations are classic raps, freestyle rhymes and never before heard a capellas straight from the mouths of the creators. What emerges is a better understanding of, and a tribute to, an original American art form that brought poetry to a new generation.
For more information on The Art of Rap film & to find out what theatres it’s playing in, visit: www.TheArtOfRap.com
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