Heads of Hip-Hop is the Free Poster Collection You’ve Always Wanted
Guest post by Matt Haze
Around the Bay Area, Jimmy Love is best-known for the long-running series of Desi dance parties, Nonstop Bhangra, that he DJ’s, curates, and produces alongside his partner, Vicki Virk, Director of Dholrhythms Dance Company.
Recently, Love took an unexpected detour back to his musical roots while sharpening his sketching skills in his other career as a graphic designer. He began drawing his favorite hip-hop legends and making the posters free for the community to download and print. You can see the whole collection right here.
And on Saturday 10/10 he’s having a digital launch party for the series.
How it all happened though was well…heady. I’ll let him explain:
When I started DJ’ing in San Francisco in the late 90’s, I used to play mostly hip-hop and funk. A lot of the original tracks that were sampled in hip-hop.
I popped around a lot when I was younger. I used to go to NYC in the middle of the Golden Era, 94-95, picking up mixtapes that were sold on the streets. I was really lucky to be able to do that.
I was a huge Native Tongues fan, Tribe was my joint, De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, everything in that whole clique.
Back then, I was doing graffiti. I was one of the few white kids in the scene where I was living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I would write wherever I could get up.
I was a little guy so my tag was KID. There was actually another guy who called himself KID and I had to beat him in a graffiti battle to earn the right to the name.
I’ve always loved drawing and painting. For me, drawing is meditative. But the hardest part of making art is [the tendency to] overthink everything.
A friend of mine who had gotten back into drawing later in life told me about an exercise where you just sit and draw for two hours to get back into the flow. At the end of the two hours, what you have is what you get.
I read that Biz Markie was in the hospital a while back, so while watching TV one night, I did a two-hour sketch of him. I put up the drawing and [the response] was wild! I had ten people inboxing me right away, asking me where they could get a print.
So, every day, I just sat down and kept doing it and the requests for prints kept coming. It was kinda wild. By the time I got to 20, 30 prints, I knew it as going to become a thing.
As it become more clear this was something I was going to put out in the world, ethically I didn’t feel right making money off of this. I’m using the artists’ name and likenesses from other people’s photographs.
There’s so much cultural appropriation going on right now. I really wanted to give it away to promote, to aid the culture that gave me so much.
Because I’m unable to attend [Black Lives Matter] protests, I was looking for a way to contribute. This is the perfect way for me to show up. I keep hearing from younger people saying that they are finding out about older artists because of these drawings, which is amazing.
Beginning Saturday, October 10th, print-quality files will be available for free at HeadsOfHipHop.com which also offers visitors the opportunity to donate to Black Lives Matter and the ACLU. Print availability coincides with a virtual launch party featuring an extended set from legendary DJ Dave Paul (Bomb Hip-Hop, The Prince and Michael Experience).