The fact that rap lyrics are a driver of violence is a subject that has also been discussed a lot in the Netherlands in recent years. It is an assumption that is fiercely contested by the hip-hop community. It is explained that violent incidents have to do with the situation in society. That hip-hop has been able to find words for social circumstances and to stimulate social engagement like no other art form. And that criminalizing an entire music genre is not hard to prove. Criminologists and a few politicians also endorse this view. But the stigma is persistent.
To open up a new perspective, Madimin takes a different approach. There is certainly a relationship between art and violence, but it is not reserved for hip-hop culture. It is precisely the canon of European art that is full of violence: beheading, assault, torture, power struggles. Naturally, these classic expressions are regarded as sublimated violence: visual culture as a symbolic display of power and as a sublime aesthetic experience. Why is representation in hip-hop culture—the mainstream art form of today—never viewed that way? Madimin takes the stigma into his own hands by making a series of tracksuits from fabric printed with sampled scenes of violence from Italian Renaissance painting. By making that connection with the ultimate rapper outfit, he emphasizes the great cultural importance of hip hop such as the New Black Renaissance.
The title 'By All Means Necessary' is taken from an album by Boogie Down Productions (made after BDP's DJ Scott La Rock was killed by gun violence). The rap group referred to the words with which civil rights activist Malcolm X, when founding the Organization of Afro-American Unity in 1964, called for freedom, justice and equality 'by any means necessary'. It is a powerful example of how hip-hop is able to articulate and disseminate social and political awareness, often to the dismay of the political elite.
This project is an initiative of Dimitri Madimin and Philip Powel. Dimitri Madimin (aka Dim Browski) makes visual art and music, and is co-founder of the multidisciplinary collectives Transformerz, Ruyzdael and Kiss Escort. Philip Powel is a programmer at the HipHopHuis, a founding consultant at BIRD, and co-founder of the John106 and Ruyzdael Foundation.
Beyond the BEAT: Black Joy and Rage
Madimin's project opens during the Rotterdam Street Culture Weekend and the event Beyond the BEAT – a collaboration between the HipHopHuis, BIRD and The Notorious IBE, consisting of an interdisciplinary program with panels, a power talk, film screenings and live performances.
After an eventful year in which a pandemic has hit the world and millions of people worldwide took to the streets to protest against police brutality and systematic racism following the murder of George Floyd is amid civil unrest and a constant state of anger in the black community , a sense of loss and a need for joy arise. The idea of "black joy" as a movement and form of rebellion has taken root here. Beyond the Beat has taken this black joy as an act of resistance and anger as creative fuel as the starting point for the Joy & Rage theme. It thus programmatically makes the connection between the anger, the violence and the role that black joy plays in the process of its healing. A program in image and sound that zooms in on the black diaspora, the celebration of black culture and a renewed urgency for social change in the midst of a pandemic.