We live in a new era that many have referred to as the “slash generation” where it’s completely common to take on more than a few hustles — we did a whole feature not too long ago on celebs who’ve successfully pulled off a second act in their careers. Actually, that notion is practically a prerequisite for the entertainers of the world.
Salaam Remi, the Queens-bred superproducer famous for his work alongside Nas, The Fugees, Jazmine Sullivan and late Brit soul icon Amy Winehouse to name a few, is now on the fast track to becoming a full-on art museum curator. After dabbling in the crib while the world was on lockdown a few years ago, the GRAMMY-winning jack-of-two-trades decided to bring his love for art to the masses by way of an initiative he calls MuseZeum.
Located in Miami’s art-centric Wynwood neighborhood, the multimedia art gallery also doubles as a creative studio in addition to a live event space. However, Salaam has decided to branch outside of the Sunshine State by bringing his exhibit home to NYC for a pop-up on Orchard Street in the Lower East Side that will run from now until Labor Day weekend.
We got the golden opportunity recently to visit the Renaissance Man during his pitstop in the Big Apple, and Salaam was more than happy to chop it up about what sparked the newfound art deco steez and how it all ties back to hip-hop’s current 50th anniversary celebration.
BLACK AMERICA WEB: Not many people would expect to see a music producer become a museum curator, but you’ve truly morphed yourself into an official art head! Where did this newfound love for the arts begin?
SALAAM REMI: I started it during the pandemic at the top of 2021, but it began as me just making stuff for myself. Once the impact of the pandemic started to slow down, I decided to venture out and show people what I’ve been creating. It eventually turned into an ecosystem where artists, or people with their name and likeness, can collaborate and do something else completely. It being a museum was just my way of creating an art studio space so that others can showcase their stuff as well outside of me.
How did you go about choosing the musicians featured in the art pieces? Was it time-consuming to put together?
I’m a fan first, and did everything from the perspective of how I’d want to see [my favorite artists] hanging on the wall. [It’s easy] when you’re working out of passion; it took me a month to read Of Mice And Men and a day to read the Run-D.M.C. book and a day to read the Rakim book because I’m interested. Working on something because you like it helps. We had a lot of time during the pandemic, and some people watched a lot of Netflix while others created something; I did the latter.
What’s your goal with MuseZeum overall? Do you plan to keep it as a traveling art show?
As stated earlier, I see it growing as an ecosystem. I want to put the people we respect on the walls, with respect to their name and likeness, while also getting them paid. They get paid the same way [the estates of] Bob Marley and Marvin Gaye do. We have photographers and painters like the Justin Wadlington [painting of Nas] in the window. He actually had [the piece] posted, I saw it on the ‘Gram, hit him up, showed it to Nas — he like it! — and eventually made it a collaboration between the two of them. Normally, an artist may like Nas but not have the access to get to him. On the other hand, Nas might come across an artwork of himself but not know how to contact that person. The MuseZeum is really about showing respect to the creatives.
We never really had anywhere to do something like this. At Art Basel, I was more going around and buying stuff yet only seeing one or two things that resonated with me culturally in the whole space. When I started doing my own art shows and just bringing out stuff that I was collecting, we really figured it all out. If you with the ecosystem, then you now got somewhere to go.
Getting back to your hip-hop roots, especially with it being the genre’s 50th anniversary this year, what are some of your best memories of being both a fan and part of the culture?
In general, Slick Rick is my favorite rapper. 1985 to 1989 are my high school years, so a lot of the pieces in MuseZeum reflect that. Those emblems — the dookie gold ropes, Rakim, Rick — mean something to me. On a hip-hop level, that’s where it’s at.
Although Slick Rick happens to be from The Bronx and I’m from Queens, I’m also from the West Indies [Laughs]. I’m always hearing everything with Queens ears regardless of the borough, but New York is the mecca and I love every rapper who represents every borough and puts it down.
Take a look below at more images from the MuseZeum hip-hop art exhibition curated by Salaam Remi, which will be taking over NYC until Labor Day in addition to its main brick and mortar location in Miami’s Wynwood district:
1. “Fab555 Freddy artBoxx”Source:other
2. “D’Angelo artBoxx”Source:other
3. “Slick Rick speakerBoxx” / “RAW ArtBoxxx – Big Daddy Kane”Source:other
4. “Dennis Brown artBoxxx”Source:other
5. “Bob Marley speakerBoxx”Source:other
6. [L to R] “Marvin Gaye SaVeTHEWorld” / “Brooklyn” / “Bob Marley: Burlap”Source:other
Illustrator: Tait Crooks (@itsjusttati)
Bob Marley – Burlap:
Canvas Artist: Salaam Remi (@SalaamRemi)