Young Thug VS Jean-Michel Basquiat

In the 1980’s, a young, African American painter emerged onto the New York art scene. Jean-Michel Basquiat was one of the brightest, and most unique, artists in all of America. He took the expressionist style of the Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and combined it with tribal African and street art that reflected his urban surroundings and the plight of the African American community. 

Since Basquiat’s 1998 death, his art has grown increasingly popular among hip hop artists. Both Jay Z and Swizz Beats are known Basquiat collectors, and he has been referenced in verses by hip hop heavyweights Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Rick Ross, Danny Brown, J. Cole, and A$AP Rocky. 

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Does Young Thug appear in this Basquiat painting that was made years before his birth?

This reoccurring homage continues in the music video for the Young Thug/Freddie Gibbs/A$AP Ferg collaboration, “Old English.” Well before this video came out, this track blew my mind. Three great verses linked together by one thick chain of a hook. A$AP Ferg especially shines with one of his best verses to date. He tells a narrative of a young, hispanic girl who turns to selling Molly as ends to support her sick mother, along with the rest of her family.

But getting back the video, it’s not too difficult to see the Basquiat connection. The crude line work and the bright colors harken back to Basquiat’s work – his signature crown even makes an appearance. This sort of gritty depiction expertly juxtaposes with the trap instrumentals and dark lyrics on street life.

I think this is why Basquiat’s art resonates in hip hop. Artists like like-minded artists. Basquiat, like Jay-Z or Young Thug, was born with nothing and worked his way to notoriety in a system that fought against him. His art reflects a story that too many African Americans live themselves. One encompassed by poverty, drugs, violence, and systematic suppression. Out of this struggle however, comes wonderful art and music. These artists reflect their surroundings in their art and hopefully, educate their audiences on the circumstances they and so many have experienced.

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Killer Mike Delivers Impassioned Speech after the Micheal Brown Verdict

This is heart-breaking. It’s incredibly powerful and incredibly brave, but it’s heart-breaking.

“Riots are only the language of the unheard.” 

Happy 200th post.

A transcription of the speech that I ripped from Consequence of Sound:

I would like to say Rest in Peace to Michael Brown. I would like to give all thoughts and prayers to the people out there peacefully protesting. I also give thoughts and prayers to the people who could not hold their anger in because riots are only the language of the unhold. We usually come on to Queen’s ‘Champion’, but I just got to tell you today, no matter how much we do it, no matter how much we get shit together, shit comes along and kicks you on your ass. Tonight, I got kicked on my ass when I heard that prosecutor. You motherfuckers got me today, I knew it was coming when Eric Holder decided to resign. You motherfuckers got me today. You kicked me on my ass today, because I have a 20-year-old son and a 12-year-old son, and I’m so afraid for them today.

When I stood on the bus, and I cried, and I hugged my friend, I said, ‘these motherfuckers got me today.’ When I stood in front of my wife, and I cried like a baby, I said, ‘these motherfuckers got me today. You motherfuckers will not own tomorrow, we will not bend to your fear, we will not accept your pain, we are not going to keep playing that race card, because we know you don’t value my skin. We know you do value his (El-P), but we’re friends and nothing is going to devalue that.

There was no peace in my heart and I wanted to walk out to ‘Burn This Motherfucker Down’. But I got to tell you, I’m from Atlanta, Georgia, something said, ‘Just look for something [Martin Luther King Jr.] might have said,’ so I googled Martin King and Wikipedia popped up, and he was 39 years old when you motherfuckers killed him. He was the same age as I am, the same age as [El-P]. He was a young man when you killed him.

But I can promise you today: If I die when I walk off this stage tomorrow, I’ll let you know this: it is not about race, it is not a class, it’s not about color, it’s about what they killed him for. It’s about poverty, it’s about greed, and it’s about a war machine. It’s about a war machine that uses you. So as I go tomorrow, I might go the day after, the one thing I want you to know is that it’s us against the motherfucking machine!”