Ubiquitous in popular culture because the early 2000s, Japanese up to date artist Takashi Murakami is accustomed to co-relating excessive and low tradition. Amongst different achievements, he based the “superflat” principle, which pulls on conventional “flattened” Japanese printing with anime and popular culture imagery. He’s additionally famed for his robust collaborative relationship with excessive trend label Louis Vuitton, with whom he produced a number of legendary items, and he steadily groups up with fellow trend icon Virgil Abloh. Maybe most extremely, he has had his work exhibited on the Palace of Versailles in France. Nonetheless, Murakami stays legendary in my thoughts for the particular relationship he has fashioned with fashionable hip-hop.
Though Murakami had already been creating in American popular culture for years, his standing blossomed following Kanye West’s 2007 album “Commencement,” for which Murakami designed the quilt. It options Kanye’s iconic Dropout Bear being fired from a cannon beneath a college, marbled with vivid colours and Murakami’s iconic motifs. This marked Murakami’s first high-profile hip-hop collaboration and cultivated his inventive relationship with Kanye (he later designed Child Cudi and Kanye’s “Youngsters See Ghosts” (2018) album cowl).
Since then, Murakami has collaborated with numerous others, together with manufacturers like Supreme and Off-White and rappers like Child Cudi, Kanye West, Drake and Pharrell Williams. However Murakami’s affect on hip-hop has not been restricted to official collaborations. Travis Scott gifted his entourage Iced-Out Eliantte & Co chains designed by Murakami, Justin Bieber has Murakami cushions on his couches, The Weeknd has adorned Murakami apparel and Murakami’s smiling flower is seen frequently amongst fashionable hip-hop imagery.
Though it appears quite confounding how Murakami can traverse the excessive artwork neighborhood and hip-hop, I’ve surmised a quite easy clarification for his prominence: He by no means fails to acknowledge his inspiration and/or collaborator whereas additionally giving his personal distinctive aptitude. His very artwork motion, superflat, ostensibly disrupts conventional Japanese artwork types, but it subtly maintains basic components (primarily the presentation and composition of the work). Like his inspiration Andy Warhol, Murakami’s work has been criticized for being kitsch or shallow. But I discover that he adapts his work to whomever he’s producing for, with out abandoning his modus operandi: His installations on the Palace of Versailles replicate the huge frescos that adorn the fort, his work with Kanye West exhibits each the macabre and vicarious sides of the musician and his collaborations with streetwear manufacturers like Uniqlo and Supreme add his inimitable fashion with out extinguishing the manufacturers’ inventive management.
Hip-hop is an unbelievable collaborative tradition — rappers steadily work with visible artists, and musicians recurrently dabble in trend. And though Murakami has but to launch any songs of his personal, he has actually engrained himself as an icon throughout the hip-hop neighborhood. Sure, his work is extremely accessible, eye-catching and accommodates themes related to fashionable tradition, however hip-hop loves him as a result of he’s Murakami. His work displays his self-awareness of his place as an artist. Hip-hop artists love him and his work as a result of he displays who they’re and what they do: break boundaries whereas respecting the craft.