Art, Beats + Lyrics makes its annual stop in Atlanta tonight. In the space of six years, AB+L founder Jabari Graham and co-creator Dwayne “Dubelyoo” Wright have taken their urban art and hip-hop music showcase from Euclid Avenue’s Five Spot to the High Museum to major cities throughout the U.S.
Here’s a snapshot of what has happened from then until now:
What are some of the things you found unusual or surprising in different cities?
Dubelyoo: One thing I found out that was pretty cool is that no matter where you go, people are into the same stuff. There’s always somebody just like you in another city. Whatever you’re into. If you’re into like hip-hop music, graffiti. And that’s really cool, really refreshing.
You went from the Five Spot in ’04 to the High Museum in ’05. That’s quite a leap.
Jabari: In my conversations with people from the Fulton County Arts Council, the Bureau of Cultural Affairs, all the people I met with, I would ask if they could help me out. They would tell me they’re doing a Romare Bearden exhibit, they would say they were looking for a college night or something for a younger audience. So I invited them out to the show and they liked it. It was pretty fast.
What were some of the biggest hurdles you experienced in getting started and keeping the momentum?
Dubelyoo: One is logistical. How do you actually do it? It’s one thing in theory. There weren’t a lot of people to ask on how to make a show that’s an art exhibition that travels that fast and can be set up in a couple of hours. Most times when you see art exhibitions, they stay up for a month and they have a crew that handles that. Come on Thursday and sets up Friday, then goes down at midnight — that was a challenge. Then you have the growing pains of working with someone. As an artist, freedom is your thing. You don’t like to answer to anybody. When you have a partnership with somebody, you have to take things into consideration.
If someone with similar aspirations were to ask how to pull off something like this, what would you tell them?
Jabari: Put it in writing. Talk it out. Someone knows someone and they could put you on. Once you talk things out in the atmosphere sometimes things have a way of happening. And don’t be afraid of people stealing it. If someone steals it, they ain’t gonna do it like you. Half the time they're worried about their own shit.
What do you think the future holds for Art, Beats + Lyrics?
Dubelyoo: We’re trying to go to new markets and keep getting the show stronger. Get more artists involved with different backgrounds — that makes a more exciting show. And get stronger and faster at it.
Art, Beats + Lyrics. Free with RSVP @ gentlemanjackabl.com. 7 p.m.-2 a.m. Tonight. The Compound, 1008 Brady Ave. NW. You must be at least 21 to enter. Get your free passes at: www.gentlemanjackabl.com
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