I'm the new Jean Michel
Yet another reference to the artist Jean Michel Basquiat, but ommiting his last name.
A prodigiously artistic child from Brooklyn who dropped out of high school and was subsequently estranged from his family, Basquiat began his painting career as a grafitti artist in lower Manhattan in 1976, but by 1982 his work was being exhibited by famed art dealer Larry Gagosian and he was recognised as one of the foremost American Neo-Expressionist painters. Basquiat’s meteoric rise to fame in the art world in some ways mirrors Jay-Z’s own successes as a rapper, and there are parallels between their stories — like Jay-Z, Basquiat was one of four siblings born to Brooklyn parents, and like Hov’s mother Gloria, Basquiat’s mother also worked hard to encourage her young son’s artistic abilities despite his relatively underprivileged background. Hov has frequently cited Basquiat, and his elevation of a historically black urban artform into commercially lucrative high art which combined social and political commentary and popular culture, as a source of inspiration to his music. Basquiat’s visibility as one of America’s most successful black artists has made him a popular cultural touchstone among rappers generally, and Basquiat himself was a fan of the early 80s New York hip hop scene.
Despite his rapid rise to fame and his continued importance in art history, Basquiat also represents something of an outsider figure in art. His visibility in the international art market in the 1980s was unprecedented for a Haitian-American, a black artist and an artist in his early 20s, and his work’s overt political themes and interest in African-American history and experience was a contrast to that of his older, white Pop art contemporaries; in 1985 Basquiat covered New York Times Magazine in a story titled “New Art, New Money”. Jay is likening himself to this type of cultural revolutionary; a figurehead for a new movement in art, breaking down barriers for other artists and blurring the traditional distinctions between high art and mass culture.
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