I discovered underground (or alternative) hip hop far too late in life, when I was about 26 years old. The incredible diversity of styles, sounds and personalities blew me away, and made me swear off mainstream rap radio for good. Maybe the most surprising thing about this new scene was where these artists came from. An L.A. duo…with a Peruvian MC? Tight beats out of Minneapolis? A super clean black/white team from Kentucky? Not exactly your traditional hip hop hotbeds. But it was all real, and none of these guys were getting filthy rich.

United States of Hip Hop

The title “The United States of Hip Hop” on this piece is used very literally. There is hip hop talent in every single state (I’m sure there is in AK and HI, too – maybe they’ll be in the next version).  While I didn’t know all of these groups before I started working on the project, and some are pretty raw, they all have something to contribute to the rap scene because of where they come from.

United States of Hip Hop

To create this piece, I drew the map outline and hand-lettered each artist into the general shape of their home state. Then I enlarged it to the size I wanted for the stencil and carefully cut each name. The painting itself was created with one big, intricate stencil.

United States of Hip Hop

I really feel this piece represents the spread of a powerful music and style that cuts through popular American culture. You can purchase The United States of Hip Hop here. Also considering doing individual states, which would allow me to add more artists to big rap states like CA and NY. Let me know what you think.

United States of Hip Hop