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'THIS MIGHT NOT WORK'

The Art Adventures and Endeavors of Andrew J. Katz

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Mission: Kool Keith

“Kleptomaniac, my rhyme is psycho /
A Ricky Ricardo / a Guy Lombardo /
Sporting a rag top, an El Dorado”Poppa Large – Kool Keith

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Last week, I was surprised to learn that Kool Keith was on the calendar to perform at the U Street Music Hall in Washington, D.C.   I quickly gathered supplies for a new portrait, and tried to carve out some time to work on it.

‘Kool’ Keith Thornton is the enigmatic frontman from the Bronx-based Ultramagnetic MCs. He has more A.K.A.s than ‘Picasso got paint‘: Dr. Octagon, Dr. Dooom, Black Elvis, Dr. Ultra, Crazy Lou, and Poppa Large,to name a few. Since the 1990s, he’s released several solo efforts, and continues to tour around. An incredible rhymer and odd-ball lyricist, Keith has churned out an admirable catalog of strange, yet addictive, tracks.  I was excited to see him perform.

Ego Trippin’ – Ultramagnetic MCs – 1988

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In order to get the new drawing done, I locked myself in the studio all day Saturday.  The show would take place on Sunday night.  I was determined to have something ready by the time he took the stage.

Before I headed to DC, I remembered to grab the Madina Design Golden Era poster.  Keith is in the bottom row, sporting his Black Elvis ‘helmet of hair’:

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Kool Keith signed the Madina Design Golden Era stamp poster – “Black Elvis” (at the top)

I got to U Street around 5:00, and walked to see the Big Paul Robeson mural that we put up last year.  Visiting the mural has become a personal tradition over the past several months. I hope to continue this ritual for years to come.

Around 7:00, I got a text from Malcolm that said he was walking up towards the venue. Once we met up, we went right in.

There were a few opening MCs, and we were caught up in their energy and their message. We were impressed with each of the opening acts, as they got the intimate crowd primed to see Keith.

Right before he went on, we managed to get backstage for a meeting.  Keith was, in a word…Kool.  He signed the portrait with lyrics from Poppa Large, and tagged the Madina Golden Era poster.  Mission: Accomplished!

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Andy Katz and Kool Keith – photo credit Malcolm Riddle
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‘Finished’ Kool Keith portrait – Graphite and White Charcoal on Cardboard – 11.13.16

Seeing him perform was a great experience.  He is a comfortable MC who flows effortlessly.  While it was a Sunday night, and the crowd was small, KK, with the help of DJ Indiana Jones, treated us to an epic performance.  After the show, Malcolm and I grabbed a 1/2 Smoke and some chili fries at Ben’s Chili Bowl. It was another special night.  Thanks, Keith! – AJK

 

 

Mission: Lord Finesse

“Microphone Cool Chief, Releasin’ the Smooth Speech / I Get Nasty with a Pen and Some Loose Leaf” – Lord Finesse and DJ Mike Smooth – Baby,You Nasty

On Friday, I had the chance to take in a special performance by the producer, artist, and DJ – Lord Finesse.  The event took place at The Fire Station, in Silver Spring, Maryland, and I didn’t want to miss an opportunity that was so close to home.  In preparation of the show, I carved out some time to devote to a new cardboard composition.  I found an amazing photo of Finesse in the recording studio, in front of a hot mic.  After posting my composition on Twitter, I was informed that the photographer, who took the reference image was Cindy Baar, from QuiteButtery.com.  I’m glad to be connected with her. cvkjpsexyaaq4r1The show took a long time to unfold, as there were at least five opening acts. While I love to support new talent and cultivate new connections, I was anxious to see Finesse arrive and get on the mic.

While I was waiting, I had the good fortune to get reacquainted with Lush from LushRadioOnline.com.  We had an inspiring conversation about Hip-Hop and the recent direction of my artwork. She was very complimentary, and encouraged me to make good on my plans to have my own show.  It was refreshing to hear such genuine support and kindness, without a hint of self-interest.  It was the perfect conversation to occupy us while we were waiting.

Eventually, Finesse arrived.  He walked upstairs to the landing above the restaurant, and I decided to follow.  It was pretty low-key, as a few patrons recognized that he was in the building, and he settled at a high-top table in the middle of the room.  I pulled out the drawing, and went over to him when the moment was right.

I should mention two things:  1) The music was incredibly loud, and it was difficult, if not impossible, to hear conversation.  2) Finesse had seen the drawing on social media throughout the week. He knew I would be bringing it to the show.

Through a few gestures and crude sign language, I asked him if he’d sign the work with lyrics. I had a favorite line written down in advance.  He agreed, and carefully, wrote the line on the composition; making it a true collaboration. 20161021_234043

20161021_234128After he signed the drawing, I remembered that I also brought my Madina Design ‘Golden Era’ stamp poster. This incredible collection of imagery, was inspired by Chuck D’s lyrics from Public Enemy’s Fight the Power, and designed by Mark Culmer of the United Kingdom.  In many ways, it was the impetus for me to collect signatures at live music shows.  It continues to serve as a record of the shows I’ve attended, and is one more way to display my love of Hip-Hop.  Here is the most up-to-date image of my ‘Golden Era’ poster:  20161022_113122While I always love when these Hip-Hop icons sign the original work, it is my ultimate goal to have them assign lyrics to each piece.  If they’re willing to take the time and effort to write out their iconic words, it makes the experience more substantive. It becomes the larger vision for my project. I was grateful that Finesse seemed to appreciate the efforts too, as he enthusiastically retweeted my subsequent posts about the meeting. These connections and stories, remain the motivation behind my celebration of Hip-Hop.  I’m already looking forward to the next mission.  Thanks, Finesse! – AJK20161021_234225cvyfow0xyaawlhu

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