When people talk about the elements of Hip-Hop, breakdancing, rapping, beat boxing and DJing are pretty much standard and safe. The one that’s debated a lot is the fifth one – the art of graffiti. Some argue that whereas it birthed the others, Hip-Hop culture adopted graffiti culture, made it its own and greatly helped popularise it. Others claim that graffiti was around long before Hip-Hop ever was and its clear upward trajectory was not as a result of what was born in the Bronx in the 70s.
Whatever you think about things back then, in 2017 it’s impossible to deny the influence that Hip-Hop music has had on art in general. A select few rappers have gotten to the point where they can rap about and bid for art worth millions which, despite what people might try to convince you, is only good for us.
So when the relationship gets soured, it’s sad to see. Earlier this year Prodigy, one half of Mobb Deep, tragically passed away and rightfully so, a beautifully crafted mural was made in his memory in Queensbridge, New York. It was defaced twice in roughly 24 hours before it was eventually decided that it should be removed permanently. It left the community saddened but on a positive note, it reminded us about how celebratory art can be. And contrary to popular opinion, murals aren’t exclusive to those who have passed on.
Often street artists use special solid markers in crafting murals. Others use paint. Lupe used his words. But whatever the method, we love the idea of praising someone in this way. Below are a few of our five favourite Hip-Hop murals.
Prodigy (Queensbridge, New York)
How could we not mention this one? Sure, its time existing was short but no defacement could take it out of our minds as one of the great mural moments of the times.
Nas (Queensbridge, New York)
Here’s one that proves that you can be alive and still be rejoiced. Nas even joked about being worried when he heard this had gone up on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Lil Wayne (Dade County, Miami)
This mural is special for more than just the attention to detail with the tattoos. It was also featured in one of the first videos we got from Wayne after he came home from an 8 month prison bid. Iconic.
Biggie (Brooklyn, New York)
This one in Bed-Stuy from 2015 is arguably the most famous mural of a rapper of all time. Earlier this year, news broke that the landlord of this particular building planned to destroy the artwork because he wanted to renovate the building but backlash from fans worldwide helped keep it up.
2Pac (Oakland, California)
Having a mural of the late great 2Pac is almost cheating. The above one in his home of Cali is by far the most visited. So much so that it’s considered a landmark in Oakland. Picture perfect.
– by Akaash Sharma