Just a Small Introduction to The G-Funk Era, the first line of Snoop’s first verse on his debut album ‘Doggystyle’ introduces us to the future of the funk Snoop Doggy Dogg. The track samples the crunchy guitar bass from the Parliament Funkadelic song ‘Aqua Boogie’. This set the tone for 1993 – 1996 where West Coast (and even some East Coast) rap groups would sample the smooth bass lines and high pitched saw wave on moog keyboards (aka the West Coast whistle) that paved the way to a new sound that dominated the music billboard charts and formed a new emergence that would define groups such as NWA, Above The Law and Compton’s Most Wanted.
This show aims to be the first exhibition displaying works by some of the West Coast rap scenes’ original pioneers. The exhibition presents Ronald ‘Riskie’ Brent, Henry ‘Hen Dog’ Smith and Darryl ‘Joe Cool’ Daniels who were behind some iconic album covers and visual representations of hip hop culture during the early to mid 90’s in the US.
Henry ‘Hen Dog’ Smith conceived the original Death Row Records logo in 1992 the first record label known for giving its artists and staff members an emblematic medallion symbol of belonging to the label. Darryl ‘Joe Cool’ Daniels, a cousin of Snoop Doggy Dogg, illustrated the debut album Doggystyle (1993) which featured a cartoon image of Snoop Doggy Dogg and
his mentor Big C-Style. The album cover gave visual recognition to Snoop, which together with the solid production provided by Dr. Dre elevated the album to one of the most influential hip hop records to date. Ronald ‘Riskie’ Brent worked with Tupac on his final album cover Makaveli: The 7 Day Theory and contributed to the conspiracy theories surrounding the fake death of Tupac.
All three artists created groundbreaking visual identities for Death Row Records and for the hip hop music industry as a whole, but they have never been recognized by the broader contemporary art scene. This exhibition wants to bring these artists to the spotlight, helping to create a new market that can support these typologies of work, forging new relationships with wider audiences.
The project factors into Harlesden High Street’s ethos of bridging cultural gaps, not only bring an audience to the artists, but introducing the homogenous sectors of the art market to the artists outside of their scope.
The exhibition also includes works by Chi Modu, Lawrence Hubbard, Kahlil Joseph, Stacie Ant, Willem Weismann and Keresztesi Botond
Special thanks for Marvin Watkins
Exhibition Catalogue can be found here