There are many things that you recognize and change in your process as you progress in a series like this. I realized that not all of the influential players in the hip-hop industry were the rhymers.
F - You thought that all of the letters were going to be hip-hop MC's didn't you? Hype men were a staple in hip-hop, and they really got people loose and engaged during a hip-hop performances. Flaver Flav took that recipe and ran with it, incorporating a loud and bold character that contrasted the heavy tones and subject matter that Public Enemy dealt. FLAVER FLAAAAAV!
G - One of the pioneers of DJing, Grandmaster Flash came to the scene with a mission. That mission was to innovate and captivate his audience with new sounds and a unprecedented flavor. His skills and contribution were honored in 2007, with his group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five being the first hip-hop group inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
H - Making a mark in the 90's as a collaborative force, Heavy D cemented himself as a solid creative contributor. He branched out his skills not only in his respected genre but with legends such as Michael Jackson and B.B. King. Even though he may not have been as popular, Heavy D was instrumental in supporting new talents and was key to getting Sean Combs (P. Diddy) into the industry.
I - Aggressive, blunt and in your face style pushed Ice Cube and his group N.W.A into the forefront. There racially charged and politically motivated rhymes fueled a generation of thinkers to buck the systems crooked ways. Never backing down from anyone’s views, he left the group to pursue a decent solo career in not only music but acting as well.
J - Sean Carter is attached to so many monikers that it can make your head spin. His career has spanned decades, with album after album being huge hits. Every time he says he is retiring, he comes out of nowhere and spits new rhymes and creates new albums. His business sense is uncanny, which led him towards a new successful path away from music. Many have knocked him for stealing lyrics from other prominent rappers, but he still has made great contributions to his craft.
It was challenging to find images that would work well with the letters form. Finding that right image, that right angle, really helped transform the letter for each artist.
K - When one thinks of a political, and socially conscience rapper, KRS-One always is mentioned in the conversation. Not only were his rhymes poetry in motion but they always painted a picture for the listener so they could really stop to think about the issues.
L - Momma said knock you out. Smooth, ladies’ man they call LL Cool J arose to fame in a time where the hard image was what people wanted to see and hear. He broke through that, to establish his own style of crooning ladies and becoming a sex symbol within the industry. His lasting impression on music has spanned through multiple decades, with his professional career having no end in sight.
M - In an industry dominated by african-americans, MCA and his group the Beastie Boys broke the mold on what people expected when they envisioned rappers. There quirky antics and mesmerizing rhythms paired nicely with their off the wall lyrics. Their unique sound was bolstered by MCA's smooth, even keeled approach and solid rhyme delivery. His legacy lives on through his catalog of music and creative endeavors, influencing the future generations to come.
N - He was correct in saying that all he needed was One Mic. Nas was an anomaly in an over saturated area for the hip-hop community. Growing up in New York, he acquired a specific outlook on life that helped him establish his musical prowess. Regarded as one of the greatest word smiths, Nas will forever be remembered for arguably the greatest hip-hop album of all time, Illmatic.
O - In many people’s eyes, O.D.B was an unchained, and unorganized rap force that was only wrangled in by his brothers of Wu Tang Clan. His often weird lyrics and approach on the mic were huge contributor to the group’s raw style. One of the founding members of the group, he added a different dimension to their line up.
Really getting more comfortable solving design issues as I progressed through this project. I tried to incorporate more from the portraits to add a new level of depth to each letter.
P - Southern raised and culturally influenced, Pimp C dominated the southern hip-hop scene. He created the distinctive music subgenre of Trill and influenced 100's of up and coming artist to emulate his sound. His music is may not be some people’s cup of tea but you cannot deny his contribution to southern fried hip-hop.
Q - Brilliant and relaxed really summed up Q-tips style. He started the group A Tribe Called Quest which is considered one of the best hip-hop groups ever. His old school recipe of rhyming has been timeless and his creative vision has been translated well in multiple avenues in his career.
R - Paving the way for every rap group in history, Run DMC catapulted to mainstream success after their smash collaborative hit "Walk this way". No one ever could have imagined that Rock and Rap would mix so well, but when they heard the mix they were pleasantly surprised. To many critics, Rev Run and his group are considered the greatest hip-hop group of all time.
S - Snoop D-O double G was introduced to the scene by another familiar face in this letter series, Dr. Dre. Creating a sound that represented the laid back stylings of the LBC, Snoop Dogg catapulted himself in the forefront. You may love him or hate him but he always has ways to reinvent his craft and stay in the limelight.
T - To many fans he was the only relevant force in the Hip-Hop community. Tupac Shakur transformed the industry with his gritty style and his politically charged antics. Always making headlines not only for his great success but for his bad boy ways. His sharp barbs that he projected helped fuel the famous East vs. West feud that ultimately contributed to his demise.
Some of these letters were truly challenging to come up with an artist to use. This group of letters was a perfect example of deciding on a person simply because there really wasn't anyone else that was relevant.
U - There has been an overflowing number of hip-hop artists that originate from Brooklyn, NY and U-God is one them. One of the founding fathers of the Wu Tang Clan, Lamont Jody Hawkins made his place in the group with his double sided delivery.
V - Regarded as a joke by most, Vanilla Ice made waves with his gimmicky style and marketable presence. Even though he wasn't known for great lyrics or rhyming ability he helped break down the wall of what a hip-hop artist should look.
W - Killing them softly with his thoughtful rhymes and Haitian accent, Wyclef Jean has become a solid representative to his native country. With many accolades with his group The Fugees, his greatest work has been creating awareness for the starving third world countries in the Caribbean.
X - X to the Z xzibit was one of the many hip-hop artist that came up in the early 2000's. His baritone voice and deliver are well known but his true moment of fame came when he hosted the show Pimp my Ride.
Y - With the change of his name, Mos Def transformed his life by embracing is religous beliefs. Yasiin Bey helped define the category of an artist that can create rhymes that were laced with conscience topics. With a scholarly influence from his family growing up, he used his education to really tackle social and community issues.
ABC's of Hip-Hop: Vol. 2 - Z
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