BY ALL MEANS NECESSARY
Money, power and respect. The more you talk about it, the less likely you are to have access to it, or have enough of it. And is it ever enough when your wealth and influence is self-made and you feel like you never got the respect you deserve to begin with? It wasn’t for the Medici family that funded the Renaissance in the 14th and 15th century Florence, and it isn’t for today’s hip-hop stars, building business empires on top of music careers.
When you ask artist, musician and DJ Dim Browski AKA Ruyzdael co-founder Dimitri Madimin to explain how his tracksuit designs connect today’s hip-hop culture to the European Renaissance and Baroque art movements of yesteryear, you may take a seat and make start making notes as he traces parallels that make perfect sense as he talks of the depiction of social status, power structures, popes, war, economics, spotting a young Kanye West on a bridge in Florence, self-image, and rebellious art filled with (violent) symbolism.
By creating the By All Means Necessary cassette mixtape, pasting rap lyrics on the walls of Rotterdam’s TENT gallery, and exhibiting four custom-made tracksuits, Madimin sheds a surprising light on the age-old discussion about violence in rap lyrics. When you recognise the bonds between today’s hip-hop era and the Harlem Renaissance, the African-American cultural movement of a century ago, Madimin proposes, it becomes possible to take a longer view. The original Renaissance started in Florence in the 15th century and stretched out for another two hundred years across Europe. Why not consider hip-hop as part of a similar, long arc of African-American liberation and expression? We can differentiate between jazz and soul and R&B and hip-hop, but in a few hunderd years’ time, maybe they will all blend together into one distinct emancipatory music and arts movement.
The Florentines of the Middle Ages and the rappers of the 20th eand 21st century are pre-occupied with very similar themes, Madimin contends. They want money, power and respect, and wielding those is how they portray themselves. American pop culture is pervasive on a global scale, and often filled with violence, which becomes a problem particularly when expressed through rap lyrics. Madimin’s multimedia exhibition seems to ask the question: are lyrics really the problem, or is it the kind of people that are saying them? Ruyzdael is looking to take that discussion to the street (and the club) by producing a limited consumer edition of Madimin’s thought-provoking tracksuit design.
If you can’t wait that long make sure u catch the exclusive By All Means Necessary T-shirt by Undog in alphabetical disorder lettering.