Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop

Event Details

Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop

Time: October 4, 2014 to November 22, 2014
Location: The William Grant Still Arts Center
Street: 2520 S. West View Street
City/Town: Los Angeles
Website or Map:
Phone: 323-734-1165
Event Type: exhibition, opening, celebration, classes
Organized By: William Grant Still Arts Center
Latest Activity: Sep 26, 2014

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Event Description

The William Grant Still Arts Center Presents
Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop
Curated by Sohail Daulatzai (Razor Step)
Opening Reception: Saturday, October 4, 3:00-6:00pm

Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop showcases the connections between hip-hop culture and how, from its very foundation until today, hip-hop has been deeply influenced by its relationship to Islam.  The exhibit catalog includes a commissioned essay by Chuck D of Public Enemy, a moving interview with Yasiin Bey, and images from some of hip-hop’s most legendary photographers. Special programs to be announced for this never-before-seen collection, including dialogues and events with influential guests whose work reflects these histories, will take place throughout the duration of the exhibition, organized in association with DCA’s citywide LA/Islam Arts Initiative.

Rakim, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Ice Cube, The Wu-Tang Clan, Mos Def,  and Lupe Fiasco are some of hip-hop’s most prominent artists. Guided by figures such as  Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, as well as the influence of Islam on jazz and the Black Arts Movement of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and on to hip-hop’s Golden Age, and up until today, these Muslim artists and many others are connected to the larger world of Islam. Reflected in everything from LP and cassette artwork and titles, to lyrics and samples to advocating personal, social and political uplift, hip-hop has been deeply influenced by the the Nation of  Islam, the Five Percent Nation, and Islam in the African diaspora.

Three rooms will exhibit a chronology documenting a nearly 70-year history interweaves jazz, soul, hip-hop, and Islam. A central room will be dedicated to hip-hop foundations of jazz and spoken word from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, with materials on Yusef Lateef, Art Blakey, Ahmad Jamal, Gil Scott-Heron, Amiri Baraka, and others. A loop of Golden Age music videos and rare concert footage will display in a media room, curated with a focus on Los Angeles, but not forgetting hip-hop centers Chicago, New York, and Philly. Over 200 LP jackets and cassette J-cards and shells will be compiled wall-to-wall in a room dedicated to a collection spanning the early 1980s through present. Foundational artists Gang Starr, Black Star, Brand Nubian, Queen Latifah, Poor Righteous Teachers, Jurassic 5, Digable Planets, Big Daddy Kane, and Intelligent Hoodlum will be on display, along with recent contemporaries Freeway (Roc-A-Fella, Cash Money) and Beanie Sigel (Roc-A-Fella, Roughhouse), plus current artists Jay Electronica and Oddisee, too. Items in Return of The Mecca also include ephemera such as a handwritten letter from Malcolm X to Alex Haley, a 1974 NOI Black Family Day concert poster, previously unseen photographs from the 1980s through the present by legendary hip-hop photographers Jamel Shabazz, Ernie Panicciolli, B+, and much more.

Also at The William Grant Still Arts Center will be an 8 week session of classes for children, teens, and adults inspired by the exhibition, for $5 per class, beginning October 7.

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