"ART AS WRENCH" is an anagram of Shawn Carter.
My name is Katherine Bernard and I write about fashion and culture for Vogue and Dazed & Confused. For this project, I went through all of Jay Z's discography in chronological order and pulled every fashion brand he mentions, then assembled them in a clean square, which all together reads like a symbolic autobiography.
Can I Get A...
"Dope." -Heron Preston, co-founder of Been Trill
"This is actually not that uninteresting." -Lynn Yaeger, Vogue writer
"This is super funny the more you read it." -Jon Caramanica, NYTimes music writer
You will be able to indicate the size you'd like when the project completes.
Specs for shirt sizing here:
Tom Ford was creative director for Gucci 1994-2004, so his work is the most referenced by far in Jay Z's lyrics.
Moment of Clarity:
With help from data engineer and artist Fred Benenson, I created a spreadsheet to log every fashion brand mentioned over the course of Jay Z's discography, charting the album, song, year, guest artist, type of clothing, and the gender to which he is referring (ie I like they toes proper/ I like they clothes Prada). Over the course of several months, I used Rap Genius and my ears to comb through Jay Z's verses.
To kick it off, this chart places the design on a timeline of Jay Z's album releases:
This design includes only those brands Jay Z mentions himself on his own tracks on the solo albums in his discography.
I Made It:
I woke up with the design for the poster in my head around the time that Jay Z released his video for "Picasso Baby". There was a lot being written about his taste and evolution, and I wanted to see it laid out. As a fashion writer obsessed with self-preservation through presentation, I thought it would be illuminating and really fun to see. The most surprising thing about this project is probably how much the list of brands becomes a narrative as you read it. The references really are an act of artistic self-definition.
What More Can I Say:
Further data visualizations --like what the list looks like when you include brands mentioned by guest rappers (they tend to be more nostalgic)--will be released as project updates for those who pledge $1 or more.
In 2013, Vanity Fair charted Jay Z's 15 most mentioned luxury brands, including alcohol, cars, and clothes. Versace, Tom Ford, Nike, Rolex, and Gucci are all part of the chart here:
I also played with the Rap Stats tool on Rap Genius to chart fashion references in rap for Dazed Digital:
Why did we choose "art as wrench" for the anagram?
Be sure to watch the video past the credits for a special appearance:
Can I Live:
This is an art piece created out of fanship. ART AS WRENCH is in no way affiliated with Shawn Carter AKA Jay Z.
Risks and challenges
Though these shirts would make fantastic holiday gifts, my deadline is Dec. 17th, so more than likely they won't ship in time for Christmas. I promise to do my best to fulfill as many as possible before the holiday.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)