Hip-Hop’s Afrofuturistic Hive Mind

Rammellzee “Gash–o–lear” (1989) mixed media; Estate of Rammellzee; © 2018 The Rammellzee Estate. In memory of Carmela Zagari Rammellzee (photo: Lance Brewer; exhibition view of RAMMELLZEE: Racing for Thunder (courtesy Red Bull Arts New York; courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

In this feature for Hyperallergic, writer and musician, Greg Tate, argues that artists such as Jean- Michel Basquiat and Rammellzee were among some of the first to confound the art world with creations that were equally metaphorical and mystifying. In the 1980s, preceding what would be hip-hop in the global cultural landscape, this cadre of artists moved from the street to the galleries. Here, Tate looks at how young artists of the 1980s created work that was prescient in their imaginations of Black life-- and would come to be called Afrofuturistic.

“This cohort was making work as young adults that projected a hip-hop–Afrofuturist imaginary onto the extremely Eurocentric gallery system’s white-cube walls — elitist and racially discriminating places not known back then for their open embrace of avatars, aesthetics, and imagineering that hailed from the hood.”