The Hip Hop Architecture Movement
If challenged to list more than six African-American architects or designers, could you do it? Of those you can name, how many of them changed the practice of architecture or shaped a community with a revolutionary approach? If Michael Ford isn’t on your list of black designers changing our industry, keep reading.
Ford, co-founder of the Urban Arts Collective and self-proclaimed hip-hop architect, was born and raised in Detroit. Motown boasts architectural marvels by Daniel Burnham, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, and Isamu Noguchi; it has also groomed award-winning hip-hop artists including Eminem, Big Sean, and J Dilla. But if you ask Ford, Detroit’s premier hip-hop artists—or those from any American city—didn’t hone their craft by spending time around groundbreaking architecture. Their contributions to hip-hop culture, and the development of the cultural movement, were the results of deplorable physical conditions that moved its inhabitants to create a new art form in diametric response to their environment.
“Hip-hop traditionally has always been a reflection of the environment that the artist had to endure before he made it to where he was. So, if you want to change the content of the music, change the environment of the artist and he won't have such negative things to say." - Rapper TI
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