The Spirit of Post Hip-Hop Brooklyn


Go ahead, touch the art! Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

Go ahead, touch the art! Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

The cityscape that Black Moon rapped about (“Straight from Crooklyn, better known as Brooklyn”) in their 1993 song “Who Got Da Props” has pretty much disappeared. But hip-hop’s history remains in Brooklyn’s heartbeat. Growing up in the BK, our kids will see Jay-Z at Nets games at the Barclays Center, play on the slides at the recently renamed Adam “MCA” Yauch park in Brooklyn Heights, and take breakdancing classes at NY Kids Club in Park Slope.

It’s only fitting then that this post hip-hop world is explored in a new exhibit at MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts) in Fort Greene.  “eMERGING: Visual Art and Music in a Post Hip-Hop Era” spans the world, looking at the influence of hip hop in a global context. For such a tiny museum, the show packs a big punch: video art, short films, paintings, photographs and sculptures are all represented. The jams are bumping and the floor is a big open space, perfect for dancing (according to my 3-year-old son).

Catching the vibe of the music, we shimmied our way through the three rooms.  Large projections of videos and films by musicians like Shabazz Palaces, actor/ musician Seu Jorge and director Kahlil Joseph contrast noisily in the space–and appreciatively allowed more freedom for my toddler, since I didn’t have to worry so much about him touching the artwork. After exploring his own shadows on the wall, and dancing in circles to electro-rap musician Spoek Mathambo (“She’s lost control again… again… AGAIN”), we also spent time listening through the headphones provided to the music and interviews with artists and directors. The THEESatisfaction music video was inspired by the work of Mickalene Thomas, a female artist known for her rhinestone encrusted paintings, whose retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum was one of our favorites this year.

A shrine for cool kicks. Tapestry and installation by Ebony G. Patterson. Photo by Hiroki Kobayashi.

A shrine for cool kicks. Tapestry and installation by Ebony G. Patterson. Photo by Hiroki Kobayashi.

The show-stopping piece for us, was a mixed media photo tapestry by Jamaican artist Ebony G. Patterson. Representing “notions of identity,” a headless bedazzled b-boy wall hanging is enclosed by a shrine of sparkly sneakers and flowers–every preschooler’s dream closet. Delphine Diallo’s “Superstar” collage and Hassan Hajjaj’s colorful prints are also eye-catching works. Although the space is small for a museum, there is enough going on with the music and visuals to easily stay for 30 to 45 minutes with your toddler, or much longer on your own. The subject matter is perhaps too vast for this museum’s quick snapshot, but it’s enough for Brooklyn kids (and their parents) to just catch the spirit.

After building up an appetite, we decided to finish our day at 67 Burger, a local burger spot just a few blocks from the museum that has a dedicated kid’s menu.  Here, burgers come in all flavors: the Greek, the Italian, or the Ranch are all represented.  We opted to go with a goat cheese salad (extra cheesy), veggie burger (with real vegetables including edamame), sweet potato fries and a cheese burger with sauteed onions. A juice box and unsweetened iced tea rounded off the meal. Restaurant options abound in Fort Greene, but for something fast, cheap and super kid-friendly, this one fits the bill!

“eMERGING: Visual Art and Music in Post Hip-Hop Era” runs through May 26 at MoCADA, 80 Hanson Place, Fort Greene, $5 suggested donation.

67 Burger is located at 67 Lafayette St. at Fulton St., Fort Greene.

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