Jigga with a Feather Hat by Amar Stewart (Instagram photo via Cotton Candy Machine)
Tomorrow night, Cotton Candy Machine, an art boutique in Williamsburg run by Sean Leonard and artist Tara McPherson, hosts an opening of oil paintings by their first artist in residence, Amar Stewart. The Brooklyn-based artist, originally from London, England, has had his work shown before in NYC and in other major cities like LA, Hong Kong and Melbourne.
The theme of his latest collection of oil painting takes inspiration from Dutch Golden Age painter Frans Hal and Hip Hop culture, with most of his paintings featuring legendary NYC MC’s along with ones who have made their mark on the culture over the past few years.
Ready to Die painting by Amar Stewart (Instagram photo via Amar Stewart)
Amar has taken two things that seemingly could not be more different, royalty and Hip Hop, and brought them together. Yet, throughout the history of the NYC rap scene, many MC’s have claimed to be royalty among their peers. The Notorious B.I.G. constantly referred himself to be “the black Frank White” after a character played by Christopher Walken in the 1990 gangster film King of New York. One of the most famous photos of the late Christopher Wallace, taken by photographer Blair Claiborne for VIBE is of Biggie Smalls wearing a crown over a red background.
Two other legendary NYC MC’s who are featured in Amar’s showcase are former verbal enemies, Jay-Z and Nas. In the early 2000’s their legendary battle that inspired songs like Jay-Z’s The Takeover and Nas’s Ether was for who had the right to claim the title of the King of NY.
Even last year, when Los Angeles MC Kendrick Lamar proclaimed himself to be “The King of New York” on his featured quest verse on Big Sean’s Control, it sparked widespread controversy in the Hip Hop community. The emerging star would only add fuel to the fire by wearing a crown similar to the one Biggie wore in 1996 on the cover of The Source a few months after his controversial claim.
Lady Blige painting by Amar Stewart (Instagram photo via Cotton Candy Machine)
NYC rappers are not the only ones who are getting the royal treatment from Amar’s brush. A painting depicting Mary J. Blige, dubbed by Sean Combs as the “Queen of R&B” will be shown, and the artist has spoken of a special painting of Chicago MC and Kardashian by marriage, Kanye West, that will be unveiled at the event.
Amar Stewart’s Hip Hop Royalty opening takes place tomorrow from 6-11pm.
Bronson III painting by Amar Stewart (photo via Cotton Candy Machine)
Contact the author @TatteredFedora and ask him whether he prefers Jay’s Takeover or Nas’s Ether.