The visual cipher
M3 Remixed - MCs, Mics and Metaphors Opening - "Still Here" by Trek Life ft. Silo - remixed by Oddisee
Derrick (Benetez) Bryant creates a tribute to the hip-hop group, Little Brother, in his painting, The Origins of Hip Hop, which is comprised of MCs Phonte and the Rapper Big Pooh. The artwork also features original member, the DJ and producer, 9th Wonder. Like jazz musicians, he creates lively, lyrical and improvisational canvases full of color and movement.
Artoni pays homage to none of S-S-S-Salt N’ Pepa and their deejay. In his painting, Salt & Pepa & Spinderella (Legends of Hip-Hop), Artoni captures three women who have forever changed hip-hop not only as lyricists but also as producers and entrepreneurs.
Nigerian Gangsta, the work of Ayo Okunseinde and Adrian Loving of Dissident Display engages audiences through the use of a visual call and response, in their “Afro-hop” mesh of Jay-Z and Fela Kuti.
Nicole Cohen’s literally remixes herself visually with a unique series of discs from her Vinyl Maps 2011 mixed media installation The work takes us back to the where it all started: the deejay and the turntables. She blends color, texture and form to manipulate both time and space; and uses the elements of design and hip-hop to jump through astral portals of memory, music and narrative.
Damani K. Diop (Reality) weaves a colorful and textural mixed media tribute to X-Clan and KRS-ONE in Verbs of Power. Reality’s use of color and texture is in harmony with the elements of hip-hop that the Zulu Nation speaks of, especially the element of knowledge.
Jabari Hall-Smith’s (Caledon of BLACK LA) of Los Angeles, CA innovative use of animation and hip-hop is based on his own music, in his animated video, Checkman (God Body) a.k.a. Wave The Penalty, Hall-Smith draws upon influences ranging from comic book super-heroes, ancient African and Chinese spirituality, philosophy and wisdom, and figures such as Sun Ra and George Clinton.
Charles Jean-Pierre, uses two works, The Nature of the Beast and Dreams in Color, as a thoughtful and social critiques on the industry of not only hip-hop, but also to the sports industry and more. His layering of imagery and color create sense of urgency and call to action to the viewer.
Jeff Henriquez fuses portrait painting, graffiti and live painting, in his piece, Hyper as a Heart Attack, Nobody Smiling. Henriquez work brings the intense color to the canvas, as he honors Rakim, one of the most influential MCs in hip-hop history.
Ann (Sole Sister) Johnson, uses a unique style of mixed media art to entice the viewer, in her series Sacred Artifacts. Inspired by songs that praise and champion the classic origins and foundation of hip-hop, such as: I Used to Love Her, by Common, and Rising Up by the Roots, Sole Sister has created a series of paper casts depicting hip-hop in Sacred Artifacts. This technique creates an archaic approach that fabricates a visual excavation of historical hip-hop objects representing the word, the style and the art.
Hasaan Kirkland’s work is comprised of colorful manifestations of hip-hop, and the poetry of Gil Scott-Heron. Kirkland also draws heavily upon the surrealism and even references the work of Francisco Goya. In his piece, The Alchemist, Kirkland explores the spirit, intellect and rhythm of hip-hop lyricism and symbolism.
Jati Lindsay provides a black and white series of photographic images, that document live hip-hop events, local and national hip-hop artists that include: Little Brother, Jean Grae and also DC musician Musinah. The M3 1-5 series, demonstrates the experience of being there, and the viewer can almost feel the heat, sweat of each hip-hop performance and the intensity of each portrait.
Jeff McCauley blends the spirit of the blues, bebop, and jazz, in his painting, Check the Rhyme: Low End Theory responds to the infamous hip-hop group, A Tribe Called Quest. His paintings full of vibrant color will certainly make us all “Check The Rhyme.”
Tewodross Melchishua’s featured work is titled Planet X Marks the Spot (Nommo Music for the Suckas, Part II), which is inspired by Guru (of the group Gangstarr, including DJ Premier). He illustrates the sci-fi and metaphysical side of hip-hop, as he merges digital art, painting and motion. His work takes the viewer “above the clouds,” and on a journey that challenges what the viewer “knows” about the universe, earth, creation and even spirituality. Also featured Soar (Keep Risin’ to the Top) was inspired by none other than Doug E. Fresh and The Get Fresh Crew and addresses issues of depression, and overcoming challenges in life and self esteem, by using color, rhythm, music and the concept of synesthesia to lift the spirit of people. His video art, It’s Like Donny Hath Made Me See Lonnie’s Path, is dedicated to the musical contribution and legacy of the late and great, Donny Hathaway; soul, gospel and R & B music, but also on the world of hip-hop and community in general. Inspired specifically by hip-hop group The Roots and also MC, Common. It features the musical remix, “Till Next Rhyme” by Maverick, a DC/DMV-based artist/MC and producer, and was remixed by another local legend Oddisee. .
Ribqah’s soulful painting focuses on the Godfather of hip-hop, Afrika Bambaataa. Ribqah delves deeply into the spiritual side of hip-hop and creation, and references to ancient African/Egyptian cultures. Her work, The Amen Ra of Universal Hip Hop Culture: Afrika Bambaataa, incorporates the use acrylic and pencil as she pays homage to the beginning of hip-hop and even civilization.
Darian Robbins works in various media, including digital art, design and painting. His ode to the MC NAS, in his piece, Got You Feeling Like Braille: It Ain't Hard To Tell, creates a literal, interactive and symbolic interpretation of the MC’s lyrics. A unique work as it incorporates the qualities of touch and sound.
Crystal Antoinette Graham draws upon her background in design, and creates a mixed media work based on Mos Def in her work, Black on Both Sides. She provides an exploration of lineage and cultural memory as it intersects with hip-hop.
Elizabeth Stewart offers us a unique portrait of Erykah Badu in her work Freedom. In a colorful style very reminiscent of 1960’s posters, Elizabeth honors not only a great soul singer/producer but also a deejay as Badu’s alter ego of DJ Lo Down Loretta Brown.
At the core of hip-hop is the story, and Marcel Taylor’s interprets one of perhaps one of the best storytellers in hip-hop, Slick Rick. His painting, Slick Rick: The Ruler, weaves the historic MC’s control of words, and image, humor, and of course, his own unique style and swagger.
Aniekan Udofia, Now, who would bring together Kool G. Rap and Albert Einstein in one dope painting? Only Aniekan Udofia! Aniekan’s work G=MC, weaves together the theory of relativity with humor and B-Boy swagger and is truly one of the highlights of M3 Remixed.
Upfromsumdirt (Ron Davis) uses digital imagery, mixed media, and more, and through his process of layering and juxtaposition of images, creates what he terms “abstrack africana.” His work pays homage to Public Enemy in Louder Than A Bomb, and brings to mind the work of artists such as the great Romare Bearden.
Fashion designer Carmen Webber, Sistahs of Harlem (SOH), integrates hip-hop, illustration, design, fashion, and her raw style of “deconstruction” in her jacket and tribute to “the smooth operator” Big Daddy Kane. As the only fashion designer in this exhibition, Webber’s work of texture, form and function explores the persona of one of the greatest MCs’ to ever touch the mic.