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Art show, rap and kung fu collide

By Brian Offenther (Shanghai Daily)

08:33, January 25, 2013

One of the great aspects of rap music is that it's conversational by nature. From just the nature of "rapping" - a way of speaking as much as a music-making technique - to the fact that filling the typical 16-line structure requires a lot of content - rappers detail every aspect of their life.

Thus, I can tell you Rakim's favorite meal (fish) and the style of Slick Rick's socks ("fly" green). This extends from rap music to hip hop culture in general.

And so, gallery Art Labor with curators Sean Dinsmore and Shelly Pecot, explore this further with their exhibition "Kung Fu Wildstyle." It's free to check out.

You can see Bruce Lee as a hip hop king.

Hip hoppers grew up during the Bruce Lee boom period in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when he appeared on TV and in the movies.

If there's anything to rap about, a bigger-than-life performer like Bruce Lee has proven ideal.

Fab 5 Freddy

Perhaps the biggest attraction of the show is the chance to see four pieces or so by Fab 5 Freddy (real name: Fred Brathwaite). Fab 5 Freddy is hip hop's original man-about-town.

To put his role in context: it's been said that poet/activist Allen Ginsberg had the greatest address book in the world in the 50s through 70s, as he always seemed to have a nose for being around the most interesting people doing the most interesting things at any give moment. Read any book about culture from those two decades, and he's sure to pull a cameo. His role might have be vague, but his likelihood of having some sort of impact was not.

In late 70s and the 80s, Fab 5 Freddy had this role in hip hop.

He's most known today for being among the first hosts of pioneering American shows "Yo! MTV Raps" in 1988. Old school hip hop nerds however know he was the first guy in the hip hop community to see the potential of joining forces with a fellow burgeoning movement: punk.

He raps on what is generally considered the first punk/rap collaboration, "Hip Hop Bommi Bop" with German punks Die Toten Hosen.

Venue: Art Labor, 570 Yongjia Rd

Date: Through February 28. Tuesday through Saturday 11am-7pm, Sundays noon to 6pm

Admission: Free

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