Saturday, March 10, 2012

Justin Bua's The Legends of Hip Hop

The Legends of Hip Hop
by Justin Bua

Harper Design, 2011

Immortalizing hip hop icons on canvas and paper, Justin Bua is an innovator himself, specializing in urban/fine art. He's designed everything from album covers to skateboards, capturing and reinterpreting the essence of hip hop culture. The Legends of Hip Hop, Bua's latest book release - a follow-up to 2009's The Beat of Urban Art - is a masterful collection of his hip hop portraits and prints. It might just be THE definitive hip hop coffee table book (sorry, Jay). From cover to cover, The Legends of Hip Hop is a highly-saturated collection of the best hip hop has to offer. Justin Bua presents an assortment of paintings and drawings of fifty individuals, artists and groups. Beginning with Muhammad Ali, James Brown and Michael Jackson, Bua works his way up to legends like Melle Mel, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Public Enemy, Guru, Nas, Tupac, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z and Eminem, finally capping things off with President Barack Obama, arguably a product of the multicultural progression of hip hop influence. The inclusion of both paintings and drawings offers a very nice balance of fine art and sketches, not to mention the well-written mini-essays and quotations on each individual's influence(s) on culture and Bua himself. The Legends of Hip Hop is a blast from the past, often times teaching the reader a thing or two about the history of hip hop: Lesser known contributors to the culture like Futura 2000, Mr. Wiggles and Crazy Legs are included in the narrative, given equal exposure as more prominently recognized greats like Slick Rick, KRS-One and Dr. Dre, amongst many others.