TUMBLR

A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...



MOST YOUNG KINGS GET THEIR HEAD CUT OFF: Jay-Z on...

Feb 24, 2011
Permalink
MOST YOUNG KINGS GET THEIR HEAD CUT OFF: Jay-Z on Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Charles The First

From Jay-Z’s DECODED:

He was hip-hop when hip-hop was still in its cradle: If you look at the video for Blondie’s “Rapture,” the first rap song (using the word rap loosely to play on MTV, you see Basquiat, young, skinny, standing in front of a set of turntables while Debbie Harry struts by. He played Spoonie Gee records at gallery openings.

…his technique…feels like hip-hop in the way it combined different traditions and techniques to create something new. He brought together elements of street art and European old masters. He combined painting and writing. He combined icons from Christianity and Santeria and voodoo. He turned boxers and jazz musicians into kings with golden crowns. And on top of all that mixing and matching he added his own genius, which transformed the work into something completely fresh and original. The paintings don’t just sit on my walls, they move like crazy.

One Basquiat print I own is called Charles the First—it’s about Charlie Parker, the jazz pioneer who died young of a heroin overdose, like Basquiat. In the corner of the painting are the words, MOST YOUNG KINGS GET THEIR HEAD CUT OFF….I read it as a statement about what happens when you achieve a certain position. You become a target. People want to take your head, your crown, your title. They want to emasculate you…

…When Basquiat painted Charles the First he was only twenty-two. People always wanted to stick Basquiat in some camp or another, to paste on some label that would be stable and make it easy to treat him like a commodity. But he was elusive. His eye was always on a bigger picture…

One critic said about Basquiat that the boys in his paintings didn’t grow up to be men, they grew up to be corpses, skeletons, and ghosts. Maybe that’s the curse of being young, black, and gifted in America….I’m trying to rewrite the old script, but Basquiat’s painting sits on my wall like a warning.

Some of the best art writing I’ve come across in a while, and terrific book design, too.

MOST YOUNG KINGS GET THEIR HEAD CUT OFF: Jay-Z on Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Charles The First

From Jay-Z’s DECODED:

He was hip-hop when hip-hop was still in its cradle: If you look at the video for Blondie’s “Rapture,” the first rap song (using the word rap loosely to play on MTV, you see Basquiat, young, skinny, standing in front of a set of turntables while Debbie Harry struts by. He played Spoonie Gee records at gallery openings.

…his technique…feels like hip-hop in the way it combined different traditions and techniques to create something new. He brought together elements of street art and European old masters. He combined painting and writing. He combined icons from Christianity and Santeria and voodoo. He turned boxers and jazz musicians into kings with golden crowns. And on top of all that mixing and matching he added his own genius, which transformed the work into something completely fresh and original. The paintings don’t just sit on my walls, they move like crazy.

One Basquiat print I own is called Charles the First—it’s about Charlie Parker, the jazz pioneer who died young of a heroin overdose, like Basquiat. In the corner of the painting are the words, MOST YOUNG KINGS GET THEIR HEAD CUT OFF….I read it as a statement about what happens when you achieve a certain position. You become a target. People want to take your head, your crown, your title. They want to emasculate you…

…When Basquiat painted Charles the First he was only twenty-two. People always wanted to stick Basquiat in some camp or another, to paste on some label that would be stable and make it easy to treat him like a commodity. But he was elusive. His eye was always on a bigger picture…

One critic said about Basquiat that the boys in his paintings didn’t grow up to be men, they grew up to be corpses, skeletons, and ghosts. Maybe that’s the curse of being young, black, and gifted in America….I’m trying to rewrite the old script, but Basquiat’s painting sits on my wall like a warning.

Some of the best art writing I’ve come across in a while, and terrific book design, too.


141 notes

  1. thekristofferson reblogged this from austinkleon
  2. ger93 reblogged this from austinkleon
  3. daeluk reblogged this from curatedbyade
  4. curatedbyade reblogged this from austinkleon and added:
    I gotta read DECODED once more.
  5. pinchitanbienasi reblogged this from austinkleon
  6. honeygrip reblogged this from austinkleon
  7. minimalismbybrianalbiter reblogged this from austinkleon
  8. blvckphoenix reblogged this from mynameonacloud
  9. balmainbanditt reblogged this from mynameonacloud
  10. blackexcellance reblogged this from mynameonacloud
  11. hhhallahhh reblogged this from mynameonacloud
  12. mynameonacloud reblogged this from austinkleon
  13. thirdshiftcliff reblogged this from austinkleon
  14. una-groseria-en-ingles reblogged this from fcukfame
  15. mzpdx reblogged this from pumpernickel-ashes
  16. pumpernickel-ashes reblogged this from vile-insect
  17. silvercake reblogged this from avzdean
  18. avzdean reblogged this from traduire and added:
    r
  19. traduire reblogged this from vile-insect
  20. ohcrackohcrack reblogged this from vile-insect
  21. aloesuccotrina reblogged this from vile-insect
Subscribe to my newsletter and get new art, writing, and interesting links delivered to your inbox every week.