Good Art Chill 🎭❄️

In Beats + Bytes by Nue Agency

Greetings from Chicago where I’m working remotely this week. Like Sinatra said, “it’s my kind of town!”
But last weekend I had a night to remember in New York.

I finally checked out David Byrne’s American Utopia on Broadway at the Hudson Theatre. At this point, I’ve seen the show in multiple interactions — from festival plays to headlining dates — but on Broadway, it’s on another level. It sounds so clear, the nuances are front and center, the musicians are fantastic…and the songs? Classics. David Byrne is still my idol. In the end, when they stripped it all down, I caught that good art chill. You know the one. We’re all chasing that kind of rush from our cultural experiences.

From there, our caravan was off to the Brooklyn Museum for the Yasiin Bey exhibit. Yes, Yasiin Bey, the artist formerly known as Mos Def, is showcasing his new album in one of the most innovative ways I’ve seen in a while: AT A MUSEUM. Billed as a “listening installation,” the album, Negus, runs 28 minutes and contains eight tracks that you can only hear in this one, private environment. He wants the music to be experienced without any distraction, so visitors are required to keep their phones in a sealed case that can only be opened by museum staff. Believe me, it worked. We were all focused on the experience as he intended.

As a special treat that night, Bey was in the building. He performed some of his hits, improv’d with the crowd, and even did a few of the album tracks live. (Insert signature birdcall here 😎).

I remember traveling with him to London to perform at The World BBoy Championships very early in my career. I remember seeing him on Broadway on Top Dog Underdog. There’s nothing he can’t do! And despite his myriad transformations, the flow on Negus feels like the old Mos Def.

The exhibit also affords you the opportunity to take in visual art by Ala Ebtekar, Julie Mehretu, and José Parlá, created in collaboration with Bey. A highlight was the powerful Nipsey Hussle image referencing the Bloods and Crips of Christ. I won’t give it all away, but Nipsey plays an interesting part in the album title which references the word “king” or “ruler” in the ancient Ethiopian Semitic language, Ge’ez.

While you are at the Brooklyn Museum, I highly recommend popping over to see the JR Storytelling exhibit. Wow!

“yasiin Bey: Negus” is on view at the Brooklyn Museum from November 15, 2019–January 26, 2020. Timed tickets are available through Showclix, via the Brooklyn Museum; same day, on-site tickets will be released on a first-come, first-served basis.

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