In Hip-Hop, image is paramount component of the culture. Whether it’s a video, hood regalia, or diminutive speech; image solidifies an artist’s position among his or her peers. Imagery stands as a physical rendering of the intricate thought patterns and mental perceptions one hopes to elicit. Incredible reflections of life come in the form or artistry. The mind creates with an astounding ability to parallel and contort reality by explicating mentality, physicality, spirituality. The truth of Hip-Hop artistry comes in many shapes and forms, from the elaborate elocution of the provocative Big Daddy Kane or the methodical, melodic productions of Kanye West. Hip-Hop, with its explicit nature, exudes thought, feeling, and spirit with a wondrous visual application.
The work of Justin BUA compounds the various intangible facets of the human aura and brazenly captures and births them into reality. We took the time to kick it with this insightful native New Yorker who gave us his vivid perspective on Hip-Hop.
AllHipHop.com: How are you doing? How do you feel?
BUA: We have a big AllHipHop following over here; we’re all about the alerts, to be a part of that is good.
AllHipHop.com: We love to hear that. What’s been keeping you busy recently?
BUA: A lot of painting. I am working on finishing up my book. I am in negotiations to get my book done, it’s a project I worked on for about five years; it’s called The Beat of Urban Art, which is an acronym for BUA. It’s a story about me growing up in New York, before Hip-Hop; before the definitions of Hip-Hop when things were in a more raw, visceral street state. It’s also a complete library of not just all of my work but all of my preliminary work, all of my studies: color keys, value keys, classical studies. It’s really cool, it gives the story of Hip-Hop and my life how I saw, how I relate to it; the growth of it, but at the same time it shows it through my work. There is a lot of stuff that has never been seen before.
Another project I’ve been working on is with the King of the Hill guys for a show called Urbania. So, now we are redoing it and putting together a pilot, that’s really going well; it’s got some really cool people behind it - the Dust Brothers are doing the music. I am also working on a series of heads; I want to come out with a gallery called “BUA Headz,” all of the heads from my imagination, friends, some famous people.
AllHipHop.com: How will the book develop contextually?
BUA: I discuss Hip-Hop, my perception of it from a child’s point of view all the way up until today. Really, growing up; I grew up on the Upper West Side of New York. Really, there is a kinetic energy that was really untapped, untamed and really hard to articulate. They say pictures speak a thousand words, that’s really true; there is no way to really explain those kinds of characters. The b-boys, the drug dealers, the pimps and hustlers. All of those people were just so rich and their all captured in my book. I paint the people who inspire me, the b-boys, DJ’s, underground piano players; those are all characters I grew up around, even though they are distorted interpretations in my mind.
AllHipHop.com: So, what’s you take on Hip-Hop in it’s present form?
BUA: Like any era, everyone always claims their era was the best. I still love old school rap the best, and it is definitely a lot of stuff going on that I love today. I love what Pharrel is doing, for of example, I am not a fan of a lot of jiggy stuff, but there is a lot of stuff that is real catchy. I really hate to admit it, but I do listen to Chingy every once in a while. I have a lot of very hardcore b-boy friends that say that Sugar Hill [Gang] was very commercial. I just saw an article in Vanity Fair that said Sugar Hill was groundbreaking and that “Rapper’s Delight” was the most amazing thing ever. It did get it out to the general population, but in my circle it was commercialized. The Fantastic Five and the Fearless Four were much more underground and much more real to the people I grew up with, in my circle. I try to see it all objectively, see the big picture.
AllHipHop.com: As far as seeing the big picture, do you think a lot of the music considered jiggy or not as grounded may be seen as a potential movement years down the road?
BUA: Yeah, definitely. It’s like some of the 80’s stuff is so cheesy but it’s really good. A lot of people think the Bee Gees are phenomenal; I particularly love the Bee Gees, believe it or not. A lot of people think it’s horribly cheesy, or Abba. I feel the cream will rise to the top. We have had artistic historical periods that are very poor in quality. I feel that some periods are stronger than others. Impressionism, Romanticism, and Realism were very strong movements, but Baroque and other movements were very weak.
AllHipHop.com: Do you have a fascination with artistic deception?
BUA: Art is sort of like magic, it is a two-dimensional thing and what we are creating is an illusion of three-dimensions. What we are seeing is refracted light. The light is bouncing through our retina, bouncing off shining through our eyes. What we are seeing is abstract colors of light reflected on to surfaces giving the illusion of space, giving the illusion of texture, giving the illusion of things. So, we are living in this really abstract world as a painter and your best of painting what your seeing and not what you know. That’s why Picasso said, “Art is a lie, which makes us see the truth.”
AllHipHop.com: What is an aspect of Hip-Hop that you feel has waned as the culture has moved forward?
BUA: Hip-Hop is such an umbrella word now. Hip-hop can mean Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and N’ Sync. It could also mean, Big Daddy Kane, Afrika Bambaataa, and Crazy Legs. It’s a very weird thing to get into a conversation about Hip-Hop. I can tell you what to wane, what I want to ebb and I want to flow. I love lyrics, really meaningful lyrics, smart lyrics; I still to this day haven’t had a Hip-Hop artist. The only ones close are Big Daddy Kane, Eminem, people who have amazing lyrics - somewhat to the level of what Bob Dylan did with his lyrics or Suzanne Vega—her old, old stuff. Like really smart, intelligent lyrics; where are those? There are definitely a lot of people with creative, clever lyrics but really smart. When I was listening to DMC back in the days, and they came out with, “It’s Like That,” and all the old stuff. There were so many political and social overtones that were really interesting and really well spoken. I am missing that today, like Public Enemy, a real voice of dissent. I am definitely inundated with Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys and all that crap, I wish it would all go away, all the fluff, flush it down the toilet. Puff Daddy is really an interesting character because he is on both sides of the spectrum, Biggie Smalls; great, beautiful, genius but…
AllHipHop.com: What’s the call to action? If people reading these and seeing these images are interested, what can they do?
BUA: “1981”, “Trumpet Man”, “El Guitarrista”, and “Piano Man” - gorgeous limited editions, I only have 75-100 of them so people need to tune into my website, www.justinbua.com and start ordering them; great, great holiday gifts.