What do Russell Simmons, Shepard Fairey, and Jay-Z, have in common, besides being some of the most respected influential people in the world? They felt the need to come together to represent their art for the sake of the book, "The Art Album." When you think of contemporary art, what comes to mind? Pablo Picasso? How about Kehinde Wiley and Eminem? What if the biggest names in music and visual art could come together to tell you firsthand what they meant in their most popular work in recent years, as you count down to who is the hottest right now? As an art student, how incredible would it be if you could have the opportunity to have your work published alongside the most monumental artists of today? Author Dawud Knuckles puts together a groundbreaking art book, with Russell Simmons as the host, in collaboration with prominent visual and recording artists, and with contributions from art students across the country, called "The Art Album." The objective of the project is to showcase the art behind the lyrics of hip-hop in juxtaposition of similar themes in contemporary art, to encourage readers to consider the meaning and value behind these works and themes ad large. Take all of these elements and put them into a book full of personality. 'The Art Album' is an illustrated book celebrating the long-standing relationship between the visual arts and hip-hop music, and is the result of a collaboration between two giants of the American music scene. Dawud Knuckles is a veteran of the record industry in America. In the 1990s, his friends founded the hip-hop record label Ruff Ryders, with whom he worked for many years as a videographer. He has subsequently worked with many recording artists on interviews, special projects, tours, and documentaries for Ruff Ryders. Through his career in the music industry, Dawud has made many influential contacts, including Russell and Danny Simmons, who is contributing to the book. The Simmons insightfully explores the themes of a selection of songs and how the subculture of hip-hop relates to, and has influenced contemporary art. Each chapter of the book will have a theme- for example, the theme of one chapter will be New York, and the title of the chapter will be 'Empire State of Mind'- Jay-Z's epic single which peaked within the top in 10 in 10 countries in 2009. Lyrics from the song will be presented beside contemporary art inspired by New York, an exclusive commentary from Russell and Danny Simmons (celebrated artist and philanthropist), and a contextualizing text from legendary writer and activist Nikki Giovanni, as well as other academics. This concept of presenting songs, art, and interviews alongside each other will offer an incomparable insight into the influence that hip-hop has on contemporary culture, and the unrivaled significance that this subculture has risen to. This collaboration between so many big names in music, art and academia is a unique project.
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