The founders of the Museum of Graffiti have a monumental story to tell about Hip-Hop.
Throughout the year, fans have celebrated iconic artists, lyrics, beats and fashion that molded Hip-Hop culture into the influential force it is today in honor of the 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop. The Museum of Graffiti has partnered with StockX to launch the inaugural exhibition of “The Art of Hip-Hop,” telling the genre’s life story through art, photography and relics from some of the most memorable moments in rap history.
"This concept is a totally different take on Hip-Hop than you've ever seen before," co-founder Allison Freidin tells iHeartRadio about the exhibit. "We're pulling the curtain back and showing the behind-the-scenes people who have shaped the visual identity of Hip-Hop."
As you approach the art gallery in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, a graffiti mural on the right side of the wall features a Mt. Rushmore of late MC’s Ol' Dirty Bastard, 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes by artist RAIZE. Its at a prime location on a street corner behind the Museum of Graffiti (founded by Freidin and veteran artist Alan Ket) and Pharrell Williams’ Billionaire Boys Club. Inside the exhibit, fans are greeted by a massive wall of boomboxes from over the past few decades, which iHeartMedia helped debut earlier this year at the pop-up gallery's inaugural showing at SXSW back in March.
Rap enthusiasts will get to read about how DJ Kool Herc helped Hip-Hop take form at 1528 Sedgwick Ave in The Bronx, N.Y. and how the genre spread into the fashion world and Hollywood. The nostalgic path continues to show the first hip-hop club flyers, a mini movie theater showing Charlie Ahearn's Wild Style, one-of-a-kind memorabilia, and rare pieces from iconic album cover and graffiti artists like Cey Adams, Eric Haze, Slick, Kaws and more. There's also an incredible dedication to Hip-Hop jewelry from gold chains to shiny grills.
The walls in the back are covered with legendary images captured by celebrity photographers like Janette Beckman, Mike Miller, Henry Chalfant, Matt Doyle, Lisa Leone, Joe Conzo, Daniel Hastings and Jonathan Mannion. The journey ends with a dedication to Miami's rap scene. Derick G, a famed photographer who's shot behind-the-scenes footage for Dade County's legendary artists, has his own corner with his iconic work on display along with fellow Miami shooter Esdras Thelusma.
"It's a huge honor to be represented in my city next to huge names that helped build this genre we call Hip-Hop," Derick tells iHeartRadio.
There are various easter eggs from Hip-Hop's past that can be found throughout the exhibit like the stencils that were used to make the blue-and-yellow t-shirt dedicated to Big Pun that Fat Joe wears on the cover of The Source's July 2004 issue with Terror Squad or the original sketches for LL COOL J's original logo. Even the bathroom was converted into the infamous scene in Eminem's 8 Mile that inspired his new restaurant Mom's Spaghetti. There's even a wall dedicated to Lila Nicole, who won an Emmy for the apparel worn during the historic Super Bowl Halftime show featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent and Mary J. Blige.
The common denominator that every section of the exhibit has what most rap fans love: sneakers. Thanks to its partnership with StockX, rare pairs of kicks are scattered throughout the exhibit to ensure that the impact of sneaker culture is felt by fans. The exhibit's other sponsors like Champion, NÜTRL, Mi Campo Tequila and Fly Supply will also assist with debuting more art pieces and putting on numerous events during Miami Art Week.
The Museum of Graffiti recently announced a wide variety of events in honor of its grand opening during Art Basel. There will be panels featuring artists like Cey Adams and photographer Lenny Santiago hosted by Stichiz of 103.5 The Beat. They will debut more art by graffiti artists like Atomik and offer merch in their gift shop in person and online. However, the events won't stop after Art Basel ends. The founders of the exhibit aim to provide educational programming for all ages about art and Hip-Hop well into 2024 and beyond.
Check out the full schedule for Museum of Graffiti's "The Art of Hip-Hop" during Art Basel below and find out more information about the exhibit on the official website now.