While reading Jay-Z’s book “Decoded” I had came to a point where he was talking about how he was inspired by the artwork of the late Jean-Michael Basquiat. He was a young Brooklyn, New York artist who died at an early age. A quote Jay said in referring to some of the artwork of Basquiat that he now owns moved me; he said “The paintings don’t just sit on my walls, they move like crazy”. I hope one day I can have people feel that way about what I do.
Basquiat did a painting about jazz player Charlie Parker and called it “Charlie the First” , in the bottom corner he had wrote “MOST
YOUNG KINGS GET THEIR HEADS CUT OFF” and that line had inspired Jay-Z to write the song “Most Kingz” (which originally he spat over the Kanye West “Grammy Family” beat). In it Jay wrote about the difficulty of rising to the top because in this world they bring you up just to tear you down. The line that best showed it was “same sword that they knight you with, they gonna goodnight you with”. That line struck a chord with me.
Most Kingz feat Chris Martin
Jay-Z Breaks Down "Most Kingz"
T idea that the same world that praises your achievements and wishes you the best, will turn on you and not only pray for your downfall but work to make it so. To quote Jay-Z “Don’t believe me, ask Michael/ see Martin, see Malcolm/ You see Biggie, see Pac/ see success and it’s outcome”. I wanted to try to capture that image that was now stuck in my head that most kings will get their heads cut off by the same sword that knights you, that gives you praise and acclaim.
To somewhat explain the painting, I set out to paint a young man who you could see in his face he is literally dealing with the pressure of being “King”, and praying for strength. And I don’t mean king in the sense of all mighty rulers, but in the sense that you could be king or queen as in just being on top or succeeding in life. Chasing and achieving your dream. What I meant by literally dealing with the pressure is I painted the crown to be bricks. I wanted to capture the idea of “Heavy is the head that wears the crown”. When your “on top” or succeeding, from the outside looking in, it looks like the good life. Yet the reality of it is people don’t see the enormous weight of maintaining that success, the work put in and the many people trying to take your spot. You never know just how heavy the crown is, till you put it on.
I chose to make the world hold a two headed sword. On one end it’s knighting him, giving him praise, cheering him on. It has faith in what he is doing and wants him to succeed, yet on the other end of this very same sword it’s cutting at his neck. Slowly cutting his head off, because with each step forward, people in the world plan on bringing you down. The roads in the background exemplify the idea of the journey to this point. We all have to take our steps to destiny and it comes with ups and downs and twists.