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13 x 19" inch print on watercolor
Archival Giclee Print, approx
Louder Than a Bomb
Public Enemy: Soul Rebels series
Acyrlic, oils, collage on Masonite
76 " x 19"
Left or right
Black or white
They tell lies in the books that you're reading
It's knowledge of yourself that you're needing
-Public Enemy excerpt from "Prophets of Rage"
For the debut of the Soul Rebels series at el Museo del Barrio, it was
important to me that the artists featured would represent the East Harlem/
Harlem communities. As such it was vital that Hip Hop be represented.
As with the Soul Rebels theme however, the artists featured had to represent
positivity, empowerment. It had to be as far as possible from the negativite,
commercialized crap that the mainstream music industry has passed off
as the hip hop of today. To really convey what I believed to be a true
essence of hip hop, I had to reach into the hip-hop of my youth, the hip-hop
of hip-hop's youth before it was exploited and co-opted by the mainstream
media. Thankfully within that search there were many artists that represent
that positivity, however for the hip-hop artists that I chose to represent,
I needed it to be powerful and sort of jump out of the series. Also, considering
that the 8 panels were to be organized in chronological order, it was
important to me that the most contemporary groups represented be the most
hardcore-- as in ideologically radical, consciously and politically tight.
My paintings could not play their music so their written message and visible
appearance had to convey that. Without a doubt, Public Enemy was the embodiment
of all that.
My interest with "Soul Rebels" is in featuring those artistsbwhose
work transcends the genre by pushing the boundaries musically. Such is
the case with PE whose beats borrowed from a variety of musical genres
including much funk and rock, even metal and incorporated intelligent,
quotes of various black power radicals. But equally important is their
pushing beyond the role of mere entertainment that today's music industry
prides itself in. PE in hip-hop, was a social/cultural/political movement.
It became a way to take all the lessons of black history and resistance
and translate it into the hip-hop language of the youth to then give a
tool for that same youth to battle the bullshit of their day, like the
continued racism, police brutality and so on. Incorporating elements from
the Black Power movement in all its glorious militancy via the S1Ws and
combining that with the gear of street soldiers and rebels, PE created
a movement all its own.
For this painting I had to set the group members against the colors of
the black liberation flag that was a point of reference for the black
power hip-hop of the late 80s where PE and other groups, like the X-Clan,
always made mention of "the red, the black and the green". Within
this background are also collaged images of various fighters for black
liberation from the past and present. The lyrics chosen for the painting
continue a similar theme presented in the other Soul Rebels debut panels,
that speak to the need to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery (to
paraphrase Bob Marley). PE challenges us to take the quest of self-knowledge
into our own hands, never relying solely on schools and books which are
often created within the very system that preaches white supremacy to
keep our children's minds and spirits subjugated.
The painting title "Louder Than A Bomb" is taken from the name
of one of PE's songs. This was the perfect title considering all the censoring
that PE suffered because of their blatant lyrics about injustice in this
country. This country describes terrorists as those who drop bombs (themselves
included), however equally a threat to the oppressive government of the
u.s. are the vocal dissenters who resist the injustice. To have those
dissenters come in the form of a loud ass hip-hop group with thousands
of listeners globally is a hell lot more of a threat.
"Tappin' my phone, they never leave me alone
I'm even lethal when I'm unarmed
'Cause I'm louder than a bomb" -"Louder Than a Bomb",
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