Basquiat Lives On In Yasiin Bey’s “Basquiat Ghostwriter”


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Yasiin Bey, the rapper formerly known as Mos Def, released his new song “Basquiat Ghostwriter” a few days ago amidst controversies over ghostwriting in hip-hop and police brutality across America. The track combines phrases from Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings, graffiti, and poetry rapped over a beat that’s constructed from recordings of Basquiat’s band, Gray, to reference Ferguson, Baltimore, and other recent tragedies. The resulting sonic collage may as well have come straight from the legendary painter, with a sound that is equal parts manic and abstract. Phrases such as “One sports, two opera, three weapons/Kayo in the Luna Park/Free Sprayin’ on the trunk in the Fiat,” delivered at an unrelenting pace that allows little time for interpretation on the first listen.

Leeches by Jean-Michel Basquiat (via Afropunk)

Today, Bey released the visual accompaniment to his “ghostwritten” song. In shocking negative format, the video combines clips of old video games, Basquiat spray painting graffiti, and Bey rapping in the studio, matching the sonic collage with a stark visual one. Again, the pace is absolutely frantic, and the negative effect gives the images a surreal nature to match the music.

Yasiin left this message to the public in addition to the video.

“Good tidings in this season of the lion. Black August action.

Peace. Happy Wednesday morning. In commemoration of the birth week of one Marcus Garvey, herein is an arrangement of visuals for the sonic composition “Basquiat Ghostwriter”, directed and produced by A Country Called Earth. Special thanks to I. Attallihi, J. Cuba and S. bin Sharifu.

FREE THE LAND. We are already in outer space. The local time is always now. Free Shmurda. If you are reading this, you are already reading. Weappreciateyuh.

Negus. Eternal pedigree. Noble Empire. So real. Surreal.”

L T P F J. peace.

– Yasiin Bey

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