South Florida Artists Explore The History Of Hip-Hop In The Region

Jan 2, 2019

If you grew up in South Florida in the 80s you might remember 2 Live Crew's explicit hip-hop music blend or the Miami bass sound from The Dogs. These iconic South Florida rap groups helped shape a unique sound, influenced by the diverse abundance of cultures found in the region.

On Thursday, Jan. 3, Nova Southeastern University Art Museum will host "History of Art and Hip-Hop in South Florida," where artists Luis Gespert, Kandy Lopez and William Cordova will speak about the expansion of the genre and how it has influenced their art. Lopez is a professor of visual arts, Gispert is a sculptor and photographer who’s documented the hip-hop community through the arts and Cordova is an artist and cultural practitioner originally from Peru. They joined Sundial for a preview of the event and brief hip-hop history lesson. 

WLRN: Kandy, why was were you attracted to South Florida hip-hop?

LOPEZ: I think it was the connection within the story or the message behind some of the songs. It also related to art as well. You have this message of survival. So when it comes to the inner city within music it was a way to politically and socially go the opposite direction of what people were listening to on the radio or understand the stories of the young kids that were growing up within this neighborhood. It was trying to create this message so that [the kids] know 'hey there's another way out or hey I can relate to what it is that you're going through.'.

When we're talking about the message of survival within music is showing the message of survival within their life and how to live through what it is that they were going through.

William, what's unique about South Florida is the fact that you've got people from all over Latin America and the Caribbean and they're bringing their influence. Is there one thing that you would say that pushed and created a greater influence on rap music?

CORDOVA: I don't agree with it. I don't think it's diverse at all. I think it's extremely segregated. But what I'm talking about is certain intersections that certain communities meet at. It doesn't mean it's diverse. There are certain commonalities and a coming together of different cultures and races and different genres of music sounds. When [rap music] evolved it was not only coming from the black community but it was also coming from the brown community, the anglo community. It's just that it's very unique to South Florida.

Luis, how does hip-hop music influence your work?

GISPERT: Well it's interesting that we look back at the early days of hip-hop and Miami hip-hop that it was an analogue. We talked about cassettes, turntables, records and boom box. There was a lot of gear so that translated for me very easily when I started to make sculptures. Most visual artists are inspired by music and the music they grow up with or what they listen to currently. So it was inevitable that that would be influenced by that music that made a big impact on me.

Listen to the curated playlist by Kandy Lopez, speaker at the hip-hop symposium.