New vision of hip-hop through the eyes of young illustrator Hamed Hazel
E2E feature writer Alina Kay interviews London bases hip-hop illustrator Hamed Hazel.
Kendrick Lamar once had a dream, a silhouette of Tupac Shakur appeared in front of him, preaching “Keep doing what you doing, don’t let my music die” (Kendrick Lamar defines HiiiPower & having a vision of 2Pac). Being a spiritual rapper, Lamar took the message very seriously. Hamed Hazel once had a dream about feeling less isolated. Being a spiritual person, Hamed began digging his way out of loneliness with a pencil.
Taking inspiration from Kendrick Lamar’s music and vision of 2Pac, Hamed decided to create an illustration where Pac is ‘passing the torch’ to young Kendrick.
Since then, Hamed’s ‘Don’t Let My Music Die’ has gone viral, bringing his Twitter followers to almost 25 thousand. Many have reposted his art work, including 2Pac’s official Facebook page, R’n’B singer Tyrese, basketball player Brandon Jennings, rapgenius.com, and many hip-hop fans. Despite the hype, Hamed was not surprised by the fact that Kendrick himself did not repost the art piece, for the it is controversial. Hazel (and many others) believes that the K-Dot and Pac “rap about the same thing”; they are from the same area and have the same culture.
In his work, Hamed creates narratives with various hip-hop artists. He claims that beyond the negative façade of rap music, there is a positive message. Hip-hop has helped many to get out of difficult situations in life, and that is what Hazel wants to convey through his art. Hamed draws inspiration from the Spanish Alex Trochut and one of the creators of Gorillaz, Jamie Hewlett. But above all, Hamed is inspired by hip-hop music: “All we get is ignorance”, he says, but that is what makes hip-hop such a unique genre. Hazel thinks that people are attracted to the danger and negativity that hip-hop culture often symbolises. “Rappers getting shot makes me laugh”, says Hamed, who believes in paying the price for one’s sins. However, Hamed does not think that the negative reputation of hip-hop culture will ever change, for “it sells”. Drugs, naked women and guns will always be a part of the excitement.
The young artist is currently in his second year of BA Graphic Design and Illustration at the University of East London. To no surprise, his teachers don’t understand his love for hip-hop music, but the humble artist does not expect anyone to acknowledge his work.
Hamed Hazel, a shy young illustrator from Hackney, who to begin with, “just drew” hip-hop artists, has now acclaimed a solid fan base thanks to his pencil and Adobe Illustrator. Like most visual artists, Hamed wants to put on an exhibition; what separates him from others is the message.