There’s something to be said when someone creates a body of work that connects with people in a way that is undeniable – that’s the whole reason for this post. I admit, I really haven’t known SHIRT. that long and when he dropped “AUTOMATIC” last year, he definitely had my attention. From the vision and concept to the execution and the way it was dropped it just couldn’t help but to be noticed, “WWW.SHIRTFUCKEDRIHANNA”, I mean, come on, how can that NOT catch your attention?
Fast forward to 2014 where it seems like it’s harder and harder to get noticed when you’re releasing a piece of work. I don’t care if you’re a rapper, artist or a designer – EVERYTHING is saturated. And in this thick space of competition, you have to be willing to take risks and be drastic about your moves to be an everlasting contender. A couple month’s before “RAP” was released, SHIRT. started posting photos on Instagram of what looked like to be original art pieces he had created from an album cover. Acrylic painted 3 x 3-foot wood panels left throughout the boroughs of New York City for anyone to grab. I knew he was going to be dropping something soon and I had yet to see a RAPPER be this creative.
“If I was commitin’ crimes, I want the cover of the Times.” And that’s exactly what happened, sort of. It wasn’t really a crime but it was definitely a creatively genius idea to pull off a hoax to get yourself on the front page of the New York Times. Say what you want but the simple idea of “hi-jacking” the front page of the Times is a powerful message in that SHIRT. really isn’t afraid to take risks to be different. When I saw him tweet the link about his cover story, I clicked the link and when I saw the page, I was definitely convinced. It later surfaced that it was all a hoax and a stream of so-called “critics” had plenty to say but it didn’t matter to me, this idea was creative on levels that even mainstream rappers couldn’t conceptualize and the execution was flawless. To go as far as securing a vanity domain that appeared to be a short link from the New York Times shows how meticulous and detailed SHIRT. is when it comes to his craft.
Not long after SHIRT. stirred up some drama, he finally released the album and I immediately landed on his Sound Cloud and started streaming it. Instantly, I was hooked. It’s expected for rappers to drop names like Warhol and Basquiat but when you have a track called “Stolen Normal Rockwells”, obviously you know more and have a much more genuine love for art compared to the rest. The things SHIRT. says is so clever that you can’t deny that this isn’t just a rapper, he’s an intellect, a thinker, an artist. You can almost see and feel what his aesthetic is through his sound and rhymes, the album cover alone in an off-white color palette with a minimal font in all caps that is titled “RAP” is pretty powerful in itself. No overly intense graphics and corny fonts with horrible photos, just RAP – I love it. His music and spirit embodies forms of creativity and intelligence that goes to completely different levels then what is being heard in hip-hop today. “Can’t chill, too many friend is watchin’ I can’t fail. Too many people countin’ on me, that’s how I feel.” SHIRT. is one of those rappers that actually does what he says with a minimal amount of embellishment and it takes a lot for a rapper to recognize the realities of life and acknowledge it like a man. I really hate to sound like a Jesus-loving evangelist but this album is just that good. If I wasn’t containing myself I’d probably be tweeting quotes from the album all day as there are so many lines I can connect to. Simply put, it’s that fucking dope.
Photography by AK
Posted by @jeegunkim