Visual Culture: Jay Shells Drops "Rap Quotes" Project

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

Artist Jay Shells offers a new twist on street art with a convergence of hip-hop quotes and live installation that places physical labels on the landmarks and intersections mentioned by some of New York City's most iconic rappers. Jay Shells takes the utilitarian street sign, colors it red, covers it with rap lyrics and attaches it to existing sign posts across the city. The result is a project that has turned him into the man behind the highly coveted markers of hip-hop history. He took ANIMAL New York along for the ride to show them how it's done. Shells brings the genre's folklore to life by pairing memorable words with tangible locations in a move that gives these lyrics born of neighborhood nostalgia the added dimensionality often found in children's pop-up books - literature specializing in art that forces descriptive text to spring from the page with folding illustrations. This is just a life-sized version that happens to be way cooler. While the sight of these things in real time has to have a huge effect on the average hip-hop nerd, it also gives credence to the city's effect on the genre and its continued presence in the narrative of the culture as one of the most important characters. Check it out below.