Let the World Speak to You

Finding Common Ground between Rappers and Sculptors

Published on 31 Dec 2021

Rapper Nas and sculptor Kennedy Yanko were the stars of the recent reveal of the new BMW Concept XM at Art Basel in Miami. You may not think at first that rappers and sculptors have a great deal in common. As artistic disciplines, they differ greatly: one is about lyrical exuberance, the other the manipulation of materials and form. But there are parallels, and historically arts and music have inspired each other. The creative process, the role of art itself, and the lessons to be drawn from work – these belong to every artist’s life, no matter the medium.

Rapper Nas and artist Kennedy Yanko have something else in common. Both call New York their home, even though the rapper recently moved to Los Angeles. We meet them both in Brooklyn, where the two stars get together to learn more about each other’s work and tour “the city that never sleeps” in a purple BMW M3 Competition.

The small excursion takes us for a rare look behind the scenes of two incredibly successful contemporary artists, beginning first in Yanko’s studio, then moving on to Nas’ home turf in the Queensbridge borough, before ending up at Sweet Chick, a restaurant co-owned by the rap star.

Nas (born Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones) began his career in Queensbridge in the early ‘90s, quickly establishing his name as a creative and supremely gifted lyricist. These were the early years leading up to East Coast rap’s golden age in the late 1990’s, an era Nas would very much come to define with numerous best-selling singles and albums.

Kennedy Yanko was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but today lives and works in Bushwick, Brooklyn. She has built a name as one of the most talented sculptors and installation artists of her generation.

So, what happens when two such minds meet to find common ground? For starters, a realization that creativity really cannot be placed in rigid boxes or disciplinary categories.

“Rap music is all about speaking things into existence,” Nas says, when asked about his modus operandi; how and why his lyrics take the form they do. “From your mind to the page, to the recording. It really is a great experience because you see that words are power. But anyone can do it really. Anyone can find this kind of creativity, and even the smallest things can be an inspiration. It’s all about tapping into it.”

“Yeah, I think about that a lot in my work,” Yanko chimes in, “the transmutation from thought into existence that happens when I am sculpting. There is something energetic and vibrational there.”

It is exactly this kind of change that can alter the game entirely for anyone hoping to break through and catapult them into a starry sky. But how do you know where to turn for inspiration, or which impulses will serve you well and which will not?

“I think it’s important that you work with someone, it should feel like you both have a common interest in what could come out of you coming together,” Nas weighs in. “Other times, you might see people doing stuff, and it may be interesting, but it’s not for you.”

“Ultimately it’s about contribution,” Yanko adds. “If we are building something together, then we’re creating our shared experience and our contribution together. So, in thinking about who we work with and who we act with, it’s really about alignment and feeling at ease.

Courtesy: www.bmw.com

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