Rapper Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) is opening a new art gallery in New York’s South Bronx. Located in an area developers are looking to rebrand as the ‘Piano District’ – Bey settled on the Bronx for its historical relationship to hip-hop culture – the gallery is dedicated to the intersection between the visual arts and hip-hop.
Bey is teaming up with advertising executive Free Richardson on the project called The Compound, which takes it name from a workshop and studio Richardson opened in 2008, and will seek to highligh underrepresented artists. Bey told Artnet News that Richardson would run day-to-day operations while he would ‘bring in curatorial special projects.’
Richardson commented: ‘What often happens is that certain artists don’t get a fair chance, and a lot of galleries don’t accept certain artists. The whole blue-chip world isn’t fair because certain artists that are just as good will never be accepted.’ Richardson said that he was looking to support the next big name to straddle the street and the fine art world, joining the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat. The inaugural exhibition will be of work by the legendary hip-hop photographer Jonathan Mannion.
Earlier this year, Bey announced that his old duo with Talib Kweli, Black Star, and Madlib, would be dropping new music in 2018. ‘New Black Star with Madlib, Talib Kweli, Yasiin, coming soon,’ Bey told a crowd at a Madlib DJ set in Denver. Black Star released just one album: the iconic Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star (1998).