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spacer Augustine Kofie
Photograph by Theo Jemison

Kofie muchas

B+

B+ (aka Brian Cross) was born and raised in Limerick, Ireland. He attended the National College of Art and Design in Dublin graduating in 1989 with a degree in painting. In 1990 he came to Los Angeles to study photography at the California Institute of the Arts. While at Cal Arts he began work on a project entitled, “Its Not about a Salary: Rap Race and Resistance in Los Angeles” which was subsequently published by Verso Books in 1993. It was nominated as a Rolling Stone music book of the year and made the NME list for best music book of the year.

Since the publication of the book B+ has continued to work in the LA Hip Hop community. His first album cover work was for the Freestyle Fellowship (Inner City Griots). Since then he has done an estimated one hundred more for artists from Mos Def, Rza, and Eazy-E to Company Flow, J Dilla, and Damian Marley.

B+ has directed several music videos for DJ Shadow, Nitro Microphone Underground (from Japan), and Control Machete (from Mexico). His latest venture puts old school drummers together with new school DJs and is entitled Keepintime: Talking Drums and Whispering Vinyl. The DVD of the project was released by Mochilla, Cross’s production company with partner Eric Coleman, and was a big success; subsequently the Sundance Channel bought the TV rights and Ninja Tune released it in Europe and Australia. The sequel Brasilintime: Batucada com Discos has just recently been finished and has premiered in Sao Paulo Brasil and is currently doing the film festival circuit. B+ still lives in LA, answers his own phone, photo edits for Wax Poetics magazine, still digs like crazy and DJs from time to time. We are fortunate to have B+ discuss his contribution to "Freedom and Revolution".

Which work will you be exhibiting? Why did you select this piece?
Its a image I made of James “Dilla” Yancey at his studio in Detroit back in 2000. Im doing a Timeless trilogy for EOH and this part of the trilogy is dedicated to the work of Dilla. He changed a lot of our lives with his music from 95 until the present and I was lucky enough to get to know him.

What is your charity or cause? Why did you select this? Where does community work fit in with your ethos as an artist?
My charity is the JDilla Foundation. It is a Foundation set up by Dilla’s Mom to help musicians from economically deprived areas to have a real chance at music education. I mean my ethos is an artist is to always help the music and well this is precisely that. Ma Dukes is an inspiration to all of us she nursed her son until his death and then carried on his work....

Please talk about your ideas of Freedom & Revolution. What do these words mean to you? How does your piece illustrate these ideas?
Dilla was a revolution in the music. He was able to accomplish this by a commitment to freedom in his thinking. He played by nobodies rules but his. Both those words mean a lot to me - most of my education has come from revolutionaries whether alive or dead. Freedom is a right and sadly a lot of the world doesn’t get to enjoy it. In the West we have have a lack of freedom measured by an inability to particpate in this system, whether through misfortune, discrimination or plain exclusion. This takes many forms and economic exclusion has a huge impact on us. We live in a system that makes wealth contingent on poverty. So these issues all come together to me in music many times.

Edition One Hundred is founded with the idea of providing artists the opportunity to transform new technology into a tool to both produce affordable art while simultaneously connecting to non-traditional art collectors.What are your thoughts on Edition One Hundred? Why did you decide to be involved? How do you see this as a platform to reach a broader audience for your work?
EOH is an oppurtunity for a larger group of people to participate in Art Collection. This is very important and necessary. EOH also allows artists to use the internet to reach collectors from all over the World in a curated format. This too is an important contribution to the Art and indeed artists.

What are your thoughts on Art in the Digital Age?
I still defer to Walter Benjamin.

Why should people buy art?
People should buy Art because it is the last area of action that can be relatively autonomous. Mostly it isn’t but when it is you have bought yourself a very special prayer to the full potential of human kind. Like music.

www.mochilla.com

 

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