BORBAY is a Manhattan artist with a rappers’ sense of politics. He was voted Time Out’s Most Creative New Yorker in 2009 – the result, he says, of getting his friends to vote “early and often.” Being voted most creative in New York City is like being voted best surfer in the Pacific. It’s big kahuna, and the Long Island-born Jay Borbet (pronounced Borbay) knows cultivating people’s support is what builds the wave.
That’s one of BORBAY’s biggest skills. Getting over the fear of promotion – one that keeps so many artists’ mouth shut and their Twitter profiles, blogs and portfolios looking like ghost towns. #crickets. BORBAY isn’t afraid to bring the viewer into the process on his blog, his thoughts on the Twitter and even mundane work on a video live feed.
The result is that more people get to know BORBAY, his work and his personality. The result is that he gets named Time Out’s Most Creative New Yorker, an immediate validation that means more than any gallery representation. Like Jay-Z said in So Ambitious, “It’s all good cause the streets is A&R’ing this.”
BORBAY recently finished up Kings of Hip Hop, a seven-series that features prolific rappers from the past two decades. His final piece was of Lil Wayne, a musician who got his start by leaving an acapella rap on Birdman’s answering machine. (That’s some serious social media 1.0 grinding). Wayne, the most modern rapper alive, made his career layering his lyrics over every beat he could find. Borbay layers his drawings with adjectives pulled from the New York Post, an always colorful palette of high-energy headlines.
As for rappers as subjects rather than rockers or crooners? BORBAY likes their wordplay, a skill born on street corners where rappers ciphered over nothing but a beat or a bunch of beatboxing buddies. It’s also easier to create iconic paintings when your subjects are head of one-man groups instead of, say, the drummer in an indie rock band. #so #obscure. Plus there’s that common hustle. Check out the pieces below.
Greg Spielberg | July 28 2011