When Crates Create Beat Tape

In my previous post, I introduced you to Oh! The Beat Nomad and my collaboration with hip hop producer OlogistBBB. At the end, I was writing about further collaborations without more details since it was a bit too early. Now, it is official, I'm proud to show you the record cover artwork I did for Ologist, with the precious help of my good friend Herve from RVPB who did the overall design.

Actually, it is not a solo album, rather a beat tape showcasing the instrumentals of a dozen underground hip hop producers from all over the US who joined Ologist, such as J Clyde also from the Better Beat Bureau who has worked with Pharoahe Monch, Ras Kass and Lord Finesse.

And when I talk about a beat tape, I mean a real tape ...

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Introducing Oh ! the Beat Nomad

At the beginning of the year, I decided to take on an Instagram challenge and do « A drawing a day » as part of my new year’s resolutions. Not an easy task and like most new year’s resolution I couldn’t manage to do it for the whole year. Yet, after 4 months, I had posted more than 100 drawings and doodles (you can watch them on my Instagram account). I am proud of this as I had never produced so much day after day, or maybe yes, when I was a child. There is nothing like daily training to improve your skills and even though I don’t post a daily drawing anymore, I do practice daily.

Among other subjects, I drew a couple of Alien characters which got some positive feedbacks from the IG community. Even though I am not a social media die hard fan/user I do like me some Instagram where I post drawings as well as some pics of my vinyl records. What I like most about this particular social media is that you can follow and be followed not only by friends but by people from all over the world who share the same interests (a bit like twitter but using pictures instead of short texts I cannot write as you can see judging by my blog entries:) And this is thanks to Instagram that I have been approached by a beatmaker called OlogistBBB, BBB standing for the Better Beat Bureau collective out of Norfolk, Virginia. He saw some of my drawings and liked them very much, especialy the alien characters such as the one below.

I had heard of Ologist and the Better Beat Bureau who are Virginia underground hip hop best kept secrets. He had released a tribute album to Gil-Scott Heron composed of samples of the late poet. Those not familiar with hip hop might think : « well, they do not come from the main rap cities like NYC, LA or Atlanta ». Think again, Virginia is a major state when it comes to hip hop and R&B. The State is home to R&B icons such as Pharell Williams, Missy Elliott, Timbaland, D’Angelo as well as hip hop producers like Nottz or Bink! who appeared on albums by Jay Z, Busta Rhymes, Kanye West or even the last and excellent Dr Dre album (Bink ! did the soulful « it’s all on me » beat). Ologist is actually close to Nottz and Bink! and has been active on the scene for years, releasing good old hip hop beats, reminiscent of the mid 90’s so called « golden age » without being pale imitations.

So, Ologist contacted me on Instagram and asked me if I could draw a new alien character for him, one which would be kind of his alter ego, a bit like Madlib did with the Quasimoto character drawn by Stones Throw Art Director Jeff Jank. So I drew an alien character dressed like a B-boy and a real hip hop producer digging for records and using a MPC, one of the cult sampler/sequencer used by the best producers.

Ologist found the name « Oh ! The beat nomad » and soon after released a first track using the character, a nice little remix of « Rememory » by Chance the rapper, Donnie Trumpet & the social experiment ft Erykah Badu you can listen here :

The track was mentioned on a couple of major music blogs like 2dopeboyz and it felt really good to see our little alien in there. Then, Oh! the beat nomad struck again with a remix of « ...gointohell » by R&B’s newest star Miguel, a couple of days after the release of his album. The remix was also posted in some high profile blogs, and Miguel himself retweeted the remix on his account to give it a good exposure (he has more than 800k followers).


And this is only the beginning of « Oh ! the beat nomad » adventures as Ologist is working on his new EP called « Numb3rs » and I have the pleasure of doing the cover artwork. More info about exciting future collaborations very soon... To be continued

The owl man or No more Mr chouette guy

My good friend Hervé, who organized a first exhibition of my iPhone and iPad drawings back in 2011, was in charge of a collective exhibition in 2014. He asked me to be part of it and said the only requirement was to draw something related to the theme "chouette".

Important for my non French speaking readers: "chouette" has two meanings. In French, it stands for a certain kind of owl, and it is also a synonym of "nice". As I am not a specialist of animal illustrations I immediately liked the challenge.

I decided to draw a half man half owl character, therefore the "No more Mr chouette guy" title of the artwork (and this blogpost). It is a reference to the "No more Mr nice guy" debut album of one of my favorite hip hop groups Gang Starr.

Contrary to most of my drawings, I did study pictures of owls and based the drawing on an actual photography in order to increase the realism of the animal. In the end,  "No more Mr chouette guy" ended up next to a multitude of great owl artworks by other visual artists. This collective exhibition really was a nice... I mean, a "Chouette expo".

Tribute to the Hieroglyphics

As you maybe saw on my website gallery, I love music (I am a vinyl collector not to say junkie and I dj) and love to do music related illustrations. This has been a theme for a long time and this year I started to draw a couple of pieces integrating the logo of one of my favourite hip hop crews : the Hieroglyphics from Oakland.

Before the Pharcyde, Jurassic Five or the Stones Throw artists, the underrated Hieroglyphics crew has been ruling the west coast underground hip hop scene since the early 90's, with members such as Del the Funky Homosapian and Souls of Mischief. Even if you don’t know Del, you already heard him as the main rapper in Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s Gorillaz project which gave him a big mainstream exposure even if a lot of people don't have a clue who was actually rapping. He released a couple of great albums and was also the main rapper in the first science fiction hip hop project : Deltron 3030. He is also Ice Cube cousin but never went the G-Funk route, releasing instead tracks full of clever rhymes, one of a kind flow and voice over complex yet funky beats. He is also a comic books nerd and learnt Japanese just to kill time.

Souls of Mischief didn’t enjoy as much mainstream success as Del but they have been releasing quality albums since their first one back in 1993 (« 93 til infinity »). Contrary to most of 90's artists they even released some of their best releases inthe 2000’s, one with superproducer Prince Paul, « Montezuma’s Revenge » in 2009, with a beautiful cover artwork by artist Steven Lopez (an artwork you can see painted live in this impressive timelapse video). Their last album to date was released in 2014 with production by multi-instrumentalist Adrian Younge (« There is only now »)

Not only did the Hieroglyphics crew continuously release great music, they also have an incredible logo, who was actually created by Del himself and which I incorporated in the 2 above illustrations. They even have their own celebration day, the annual Hiero Day whose latest edition was held on September 7th in their hometown of Oakland (no, this is not yet a national holiday but maybe one day :) 

Gemini mood

One of the recurrent themes in my artwork is duality. I like to draw characters who can be considered as « two face » (more like the Batman vilain than the two face joke in Seinfeld if you know what I mean), with an obscure part of the face hidden deep in the shadows. I didn’t realize this before working on the archives of my artworks. Below are some examples of these two face characters you can find right here on my website gallery. There are some more I posted on Instagram and there are much more to come.

I am not really into astrology but nonetheless I must inform you that I am a Gemini. Maybe this is a reason why I keep on driving characters with a double personnality like mine. I hope that you can dig it even if you are not a gemini. Speaking of gemini, the title of this post is inspired by the Weldon Irvine track "Gemini Mood" off his masterpiece "In Harmony" (Strata East 1974).