‘Visual Rap’ is the first rap album in history not to feature any sound. The album is made up of 16 paintings — which come as high res printable files.
All works are fully annotated on RapGenius. Click the links below each description to see visual annotations, user comments and suggestions.
Two Face is a common term used to describe someone that is deliberately deceptive — pretending one set of feelings and acting under the influence of another.
The Gold Rolex is a common symbol of achievement in the rap world. An object signifying commercial success and financial freedom. It is an object that divides the ‘successful’ from those on the come up.
To me it’s also a reminder of the facade that cloaks each of these individuals — a tell tale sign that what you’re seeing is an illusion. A white lie that you’re happy to believe. You forget that there’s an actual human under that Givenchy Tee.
The title ‘Two Face’ also represents the backstabbing, snitching and bridge burning that takes place while climbing the ladder of success. Each gold Rolex out there probably represents at least 100 rappers that never made it. As well as being a symbol for your own success — it is also used to point out the failure of others.
This piece is about the two sides of the game — the persona and the person — the love and hate — highs and lows — the failure and the success.
‘Black on Black’ is a title inspired by Kanye West – Gotta Have It Lyrics
‘Maybachs on bachs on bachs on bachs on bachs
Who in that? Oh shit, it’s just blacks on blacks on blacks’
Who in that? Oh shit, it’s just blacks on blacks on blacks’
Changing it from ‘Blacks’ to ‘Black’ was a way for me to remove the race angle — switch it from being a statement about skin colour, which Kanye tackles a lot, and make it a literal statement about colour. The colour Black.
‘Versaatchi’ is a combination of the popular fashion brand ‘Versace’ and international advertising agency ‘Saatchi & Saatchi’
This piece highlights the relationship between the advertising world and the world of fashion, it encourages the viewer to consider how closely linked the two actually are — how they rely on each other.
Charles Saatchi also happens to be one of the biggest names in the Art world.
Born 9 June 1943, him and his brother Maurice founded Saatchi & Saatchi, the world’s largest advertising agency in the 1980s, which they directed until they were forced out in 1995. In the same year the Saatchi brothers formed a new agency called M&C Saatchi.
Charles is also known as an art collector and owner of the Saatchi Gallery, and in particular for his sponsorship of the Young British Artists (YBAs), including Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.
Cash Money Records is an American record label founded by brothers Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams.
Like YOLO, Cash Money has become a widely used phrase in and amongst youth culture. Its fame and popularity mainly driven through celebrity rappers like Lil Wayne and Drakes use of the phrase in their lyrics and videos.
Claude Monet was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement’s philosophy of expressing one’s perceptions before nature. His father wanted him to go into the family grocery business, but Monet wanted to become an artist.
“I guess I wanted to merge these two worlds together — one of high Art and academia and the other of Rap and popular culture. In spite of their differences, I think they make a good pair.”
Like ‘Cash Monet’, Jung Money is a play on rap label ‘Young Money Records’
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychotherapist and psychiatrist who founded analytical psychology.
Jung proposed and developed the concepts of the extraverted and the introverted personality, archetypes, and the collective unconscious. His work has been influential in psychiatry and in the study of religion, literature, and related fields.
“Rappers are pretty much the personification of ‘extraverts’. They not only perform on stage in front of thousands of people but their material is also all about themselves — their struggle, their success, their problems.
It’s funny to imagination a conversation between Jung And Lil Wayne — I think they’d get on like a house on fire.
Instagrams to Grammys is a play on Jay-z’s line in Dirt off your shoulder ‘From Bricks to Billboards, from grams to Grammys’
In the same way that Jay went from selling cocaine to winning rap awards, I would like to go from promoting myself on Instagram and giving away work for free on Twitter to having big sellout shows in famous galleries.
‘Graffiti is Illegal’ is a common bit of text that almost everyone has seen on a sign somewhere. Other than its obvious message, to me this statement reminds me of how important it is to break boundaries, to do things in a way that you’re not supposed to — ways that haven’t yet been approved by mainstream culture'
My work is like the graffiti of rap. I want to scribble out the boundaries of hip hop (specifically lyrics) and allow them to live outside of the ‘song’.
‘No Likes’ tackles the issue of likes online and what they actually mean.
In the world of media, likes are a way to measure the success of a marketing campaign. With celebrities, we measure them and rank them based on how many likes they get on an Instagram pic or how many Twitter followers they have.
“The like is the modern day applause. Its how we show our approval, how we show our gratitude in a modern world. On the flip side though, if you dont get any likes — you’re probably onto something.”
A strong example of this is Jean Michel Basquiat. At the top his game, his works were rejected by both the Moma and The Whitney Museum — however 25 years later he is slowly becoming considered as one of the great masters of contemporary Art.
Sometimes the costs of voicing your opinions are so high that you should be able to invoice it.
Again, this is an attempt at putting paintings and tracks on the same level — getting people to recognise the similarities between a painting and a song.
“I want my paintings to be judged on their lyrical content and cultural relevance, to show how similar messages can be portrayed through both music and visual art in a similar way. Rap lyrics are overlayed over a beat. My lyrics are overlayed over a canvas.”
the WET PAINT text comes from the common A4 printouts you see stuck to park benches or office handrails
In the context of this piece — the Wet Paint sign and the Nike swoosh are both markers for the level of recognition that most rappers, and artists, are aiming for.
In an old interview on TV, Eminem once said something along the lines of:
“If you want people to hear your opinion you have to force them to listen — you have to make them pay attention.”
TOPMAN is the name of a large clothing chain in the UK — In the context of this piece though, the phrase describes a clichéd position of power — a goal that many in the rap game desire — to be number one!
‘Love the Law’ is a statement that deals with ‘barriers’
“It refers to ‘boundaries’ and how, as an artist, you should learn to love limitations — to try and see them as guides and not barriers.
Whether these limits dictate the expected length of a single or how many tracks should be on an album — these ‘givens’ give artists structure — a basic skeleton for them to build on."
‘Drake the Snake’ is a play on the name of famous WWF wrestler ‘Jake the Snake’
Aurelian Smith, Jr (born May 30, 1955) is a retired professional wrestler. He is best known by his ring name of Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and often brought snakes into the ring, most famously a python named Damien.
This painting is about the similarities between the rap world and the world of wrestling.
“Wrestling is a sport where, similar to rap, your persona is imperative — Promo’s sell tickets — public image counts — most of your moves are planned, pre written and being able to execute them on the spot is vital. The more people you beat, the higher you climb. Jake invented the DDT — Drake created YOLO
But throughout the years wrestling has always been questioned by its viewers. Is it real or staged? How much of it is planned? Do they already know who is going to win? And we all know they do — but we don’t want to believe that, we prefer to enjoy the fantasy that it’s real — at least a healthy portion of it anyway.
And its the same with the rap world. The Game. We all know that most of it is pretend — but we choose to believe otherwise because its just so entertaining."
There is another more direct reference here to Drake — maybe about the way he slithered into the game.
Drake sneaked into the rap world from TV — famous for playing Jimmy Brooks on the television series Degrassi: The Next Generation. He later rose to prominence as a rapper, releasing several mixtapes before signing to Young Money Entertainment.
The Playboy logo reminds us of the similarities between Drake and Hugh Hefner — both successful entertainers and entrepreneurs.
‘Friday Knights’ describes a feeling of confidence and excitement — a sense of invincibility. It describes what it feels like to be on the come up. To be out meeting people, looking good, talking shop, feeling fresh because you can feel your dreams and goals getting a little closer.
It also relates to the phrase ‘knight in shining armour'. In this case armour would probably be a Givenchy tshirt, gold Rolex, Yeezy 2’s and a Jesus piece.
On the track Diamonds by Kanye West, he talks about a similar feeling:
“Close your eyes and imagine, feel the magic / Vegas on acid / Seen through Yves St. Laurent glasses”
Brand New is a painting about marketing. Whether you are painter, a rapper or a department store — in order to make sales you all have to adapt to a similar strategy. Give yourself a public personality. Create merchandise. Become a brand.
Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) is a Swedish multinational retail-clothing company, known for its fast-fashion clothing for men, women, teenagers and children. H&M exists in 43 countries and as of 2011 employed around 94,000 people. The first store was opened on the high street of Västerås, Sweden in 1947. It had 2,325 stores at the end of 2011 and 2,629 stores at the end of August 2012. It is ranked the second largest global clothing retailer in the world.
The H&M label has been cut from a tshirt and sewn on to the side of the canvas in the same style as a jeans tag. This is to get the viewer to see the work in the same context as they would a pair of jeans or a t-shirt. It’s saying, this is a product, not a work of Art.
Hugh Marston Hefner (born April 9, 1926) is an American magazine publisher, as well as the founder and chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises.
The Playboy ‘bunny’ logo is a reference to Hugh Hefner — In this case it points him out as a shining example of someone who gained international recognition by turning his entire life into a brand.
‘4U2NV’ (for you to envy) is a popular phrase found painted on taxi’s in South Africa. These vehicles are often decorated by their owners — adorned with hand-cut vinyl Nike swooshes, airbrushed rapper portraits and ironic statements of wealth and success.
“It is a trend often found in third world countries — this longing desire to aspire to the West. Living in the first world it’s hard to relate to this, to understand why, in Africa, people paint portraits of 50 cent on the side of their cars. It’s not because they think he’s a great rapper. It’s because in Africa he is a symbol of success. Someone who broke away from a life of struggle. Pop culture is much more serious over there.”
This typical South African style of western re-appropriation is often to referred to ‘ZEF’ — recently made famous by South African Rap DuoDie Antwoord
The phrase ‘Popaholic’ is a Lewism meaning ‘someone who is addicted to or driven by popular culture.’
‘To learn verbatim with no regard to meaning’
This work is about ‘leaders and followers’. How most people follow trends while only a handful invent them.
This is evident in all industries — but probably the most visible is the fashion industry.
Fashion plays a critical role in pop culture. Today, following fashion trends is a way of publicly exhibiting your credibility. A way to show that your'e clued up, in touch and up to date with popular culture. The message isn’t meant to be judgmental — the bright colours and comical birds celebrate the idea that it’s OK to be a follower, it’s a shout out to the masses.
‘Earned Owned Payed’ refers to three types of media:
Paid Media: Positive publicity gained through paid advertising
Earned Media: Positive publicity gained through promotional efforts other than advertising.
Owned Media: Promotion channels that you control, such as your website, Facebook Page and Twitter account.
All 3 of these media channels combined make up the backbone of any successful media campaign.
“When you have money, this is how you make your announcements to the world. This is how you make people listen. These three media channels together arguably make up the loudest mic in the world”
BRB is an abbreviation for the phrase ‘be right back’ — most commonly used in internet chat.
In this instance, BRB illustrates a kind of brain state. Someone who is never really present — someone whos mind is consumed only by plans and possibilities for the future."