The words ‘hip-hop’ and ‘nature’ aren’t what you’d usually expect to see in the same sentence but that’s what I was asked to think about when I took on a recent map commission. Sometimes it’s good to mix things up and challenge expectations I think. To be honest, this project was all about challenging expectations from start to finish, including people’s assumptions about me and who my perceived clients might be.
Those clients were Space Cade7s, a seven piece hip hop collective based in Brooklyn, NYC. They describe their sound as ‘a fusion of hip-hop, soul and other genres’ carrying ‘the old school torch with a new school sound’. I love their ethos which centres around ‘love, positivity and inclusion’. You can hear them on spotify here.
Space Cade7s also have a not-for-profit initiative, The Good Lives Foundation, which hopes to inspire and empower youth through music and arts. Mentorship programmes are run as well as inclusive musical arts workshops for kids in the New York City area and beyond. From May 2021, all being well, they will tour the parks of NYC laying down some beats and collecting for charities that reflect their values of uplifiting young people throughout the world.
I was asked to map the gig locations creating an image that was appealing to both adults and children and showing park wildlife; New York City has a multitude of green spaces amongst the grey. I could have taken a more literal approach but decided instead to map it as one huge, verdant garden filled with amazing urban flora and fauna.
For someone from Britain, with limited knowledge of the US, the amount and variety of nature you can find in such a huge city was surprising. There are otters and alien-looking horseshoe crabs on the beaches of Rockaway Park, monstrous snapping turtles at Central Park, whales in Hudson Bay and the ghostly transparent Indian Pipe plants in the dry woodlands of Queens. Elsewhere, there are chipmunks, raccoons and skunks. Don’t even get me started on the weirdness of possums….
All super-strange, exotic and unexpected to say the least.
Of course, Space Cade7s also appear on the map – along with Scooby, the collective’s dog, taking a star turn. The audience, both adults and children, lean back on the grass, or against trees or use the pathways/streets as makeshift seats.
I loved making this map, mixing things up, bringing together the seemingly random on one page. Thanks to Space Cade7s for challenging my own expectations and hopefully those of others too.
The map was painted and lettered in watercolour, ink and pencil crayon. It will be used to promote traditional band merch like tour posters and t-shirts.
More information and to RSVP to the gigs please click here. Space Cade7s tour dates are as follows:
May 15th 2021 – St John’s Park, 2pm
May 29th 2021 – Prospect Park 2pm
June 12th 2021 – Highland Park 2pm
June 26th 2021 – Tompkin’s Square 2pm
July 24th 2021 – Riverbank Park 2pm
July 31st 2021 – Rockaway Beach Park 2pm
Aug 7th 2021 – Central Park 2pm
Aug 14th 2021 – Domino Park 2pm
Aug 28th 2021 – Prospect Park 2pm