Those who hit the streets of Wynwood annually to witness the madness of Art Basel in Miami knows all too well that the struggle to attend every eye-popping function is always real. With hundreds of events announced just days in advance of the art world’s most anticipated week of the year, it’s easy to pick which momentous events to attend, but it becomes difficult to actually follow the intended schedule when certain events happen at the same time, or its simply impossible to find parking.
Every year, Art Basel in Miami gives visual artists and prominent musicians an opportunity to collaborate for rare art shows and events fans will remember for ages. Connoisseurs of fine art, music, and photography from around the world flock to the 305 to examine refreshing works of art from famed visual artists, and enjoy performances from some of the most iconic musicians in the music industry, especially hip-hop.
Swizz Beatz brought ‘The Dean Collection’ back to Miami and invited all of his superstar homies to come through and bless the stage at ‘No Commission.’ KRS-One and Fat Joe curated the ultimate VIBES while celebrating visual artists and photographers like Jonathan Mannion. If you missed the chance to experience this epic celebration of art and music, don’t sweat it. Here are the best events inspired by fine art, hip-hop & R&B that went down at Art Basel 2017.
10. ‘The Flea Market’ starring Prez P & More
Over a decade ago, flea markets like the late Carol Mart were essentially landmark in hip-hop, especially after Rick Ross shot his “Hustlin’” video there back in 2006. In the digital era of online shopping, Miami’s beloved flea markets are on the road to extinction. While tourists from around the world come to South Florida in search of culture during Art Basel, one event in particular aimed to school outsiders about Dade County’s OG marketplaces before they all disappear. Host OhRawkC and Redbull teamed up for an event dedicated to Miami’s urban culture called ‘The Flea Market’ at Rico’s Burgers & Hot Dogs, which culminated music and photography with the elements of flea markets in Miami.
Photographers Kovalski Jacques, Esdras “Photo Tea” Thelusma, Aaron J. Jackson, and Smith “Smitty” Durogene contributed rare photos from inside Carol Mart when it was alive and well plus other photos that were inspired by flea markets around Miami. Numerous clothing brands, accessory lines, and even a tattoo artist all had stations around the event while DJ’s like 99 JAMZ’s DJ Lucky C kept the event lit with classics from the crib from Trick Daddy, Rick Ross and more. Afterwards, rappers Sam Stan and Prez P performed live and put on for the new generation of Miami’s hip-hop culture.
9. Rémy Martin’s ‘MVP Experience’ w/ Tory Lanez, OT Genesis & More
The House of Rémy Martin blessed Art Basel with an exclusive event that really doesn’t happen often. The Rémy Martin MVP Experience was a joint venture with 13-year professional basketball veteran and former Miami Heat player, Roger Mason Jr. Mason Jr. The brand enlisted international visual artists and graphic designer Matt W. Moore to convert The W South Beach’s basketball court into an unforgettable mural filled with every color of the rainbow.
Along with the humongous mural, the opening reception inside one of the W’s classic bungalows also featured a life-size sculpture of a black and gold basketball as well as a sneak peek of Rémy Martin’s latest collaboration with luxury custom sneaker designer, Kickasso, and Rémy Martin’s latest limited-edition, the 1738 MVP sneaker box. Afterwards, Rémy Martin hosted a celebrity basketball game with Tory Lanez, OT Genasis, Ben Baller, DJ Irie, DJ Stevie J, DJ Steph Floss, Prince of ‘Love & Hip-Hop Miami’ and more. It was truly a unique event that fused art and basketball together in a way not many people get to experience.
8. Basel House featuring 50 Cent, Statik Selektah & More
Basel House was a true celebration of street art. SWARM and Effen Vodka’s mural festival put the spotlight on over 40 creations painted on the walls of the Old RC Cola Plant in Wynwood, but they had more to offer than just murals. Food trucks, pop-up bars sponsored by Effen, and cotton candy courtesy of Lyft kept guests fed as they roamed around the block admiring the huge murals.
DJ’s like Statik Selektah and DJ Laz provided the vibes each night and kept everyone at the mural festival partying until the early hours of the morning. At the peak of the festival, Effen Vodka’s notable brand ambassador 50 Cent pulled up to scene and spent some time in the Effen tent, but he’s not the only veteran rapper who appeared at Basel House. Along with the abundance of graffiti art, the #HappyKanye zone, which is an adult bounce house in the shape of a rainbow with Kanye West’s face on it, brought joy to parents and kids alike. Kanye wasn’t the only one to make a cameo at Basel House.
7. VIBES 305 with KRS-One and Fat Joe
After all the pre-Basel events throughout the week, all roads led to the Toejam Backlot to see iconic art and witness hip-hop veterans perform live at Vibes 305. The line outside the venue stretched down the street as mobs of people made their way through the unique indoor/outdoor gallery. Presented by 305 Films, Vibes 305 featured artwork from veterans in the art game like Jonathan Mannion, Rob Prior, and Martha Cooper just to name a few. Paintings inspired by rappers like the special guest of honor Fat Joe, risqué sculptures, and rare photos from Mannion’s vault covered the walls while the party continued outside by the stage.
Hosted by Felisha Monet of 99 JAMZ, numerous DJ’s like Tom La Roc, DJ Heron, and more came through to keep the spirit of hip-hop alive with mixes featuring old school jams and today’s trending MC’s. Later on, everyone surrounded the stage as Joey Crack and the Teacha himself KRS-One grabbed the mic and spit intricate rhymes like it was the ’90s. It was an epic night of mind-boggling art and classic hip-hop.
6. REVOLT & Cadillac’s ‘Art of Daring’ starring BJ The Chicago Kid & Saya Woolfalk
Over the last four years, REVOLT has never failed to come through with a bold approach to Art Basel. Upon walking into the MAPS Backlot in Wynwood, guests were greeted by the sounds of Ted Smooth at the DJ booth on the technicolor stage, which was designed by the artists of the night Saya Woolfalk and BJ The Chicago Kid.
Art and soul heads got to marvel at Woolfalk’s psychedelic pieces that served as the background to the white, glossy Cadillac Escalade, and decked the walls of the spacious gallery. As the various flavors of Ciroc made its way into everyone’s cup, BJ The Chicago hit the stage in an all-white outfit to perform a handful of his personal hits. Woolfalk’s kaleidoscope inspired creations danced in the background as BJ owned the mic with his band.
1800 Tequila and Soundcloud hosted a popping exhibition of music and art called ‘Blank Canvas.’ The corner of 26th Street and 5th Ave in Wynwod was jam-packed with people eager to watch artists SNARKITECTURE and Nick Thomm bring their creations to life to the sounds of Mick Jenkins, Dave East and special guest MadeINTYO.
As the tequila-based cocktails floated around the venue, multi-colored pieces of art from the featured artists began to flash in the background while all three rappers performed on stage. Mick Jenkins opened the show before surprise guest MadeINTYO appeared. The venue was at maximum capacity by the time Dave East hit the stage to close out the event. It wasn’t as elegant as the other art shows in Wynwood, but it was definitely one of the most popular events of the night.
4. Bombay Sapphire’s Artisan Series Finale Hosted by Issa Rae
Issa Rae may have created the most popular television series of the year, but she’s also a major fan of fine art. Bombay Sapphire’s annual Artisan Series concluded at Art Basel with an elegant wrap party inside Villa Casa Casuarina — the former Versace Mansion — on South Beach. The “Insecure” creator brought out her fellow cast members, Broderick Hunter and Sarunas Jackson, along with musicians like Mark Ronson and movie stars like Eva Longoria to celebrate the extraordinary work of the program’s 16 finalists.
Guests got to sip on tasty, Gin concoctions like the “Epiphany” while admiring an extraordinary collection of art and jamming to the sounds of DJ Heron Preston. Towards the end of the night, Rae dubbed Vancouver’s Vanessa Lam as the Grand Finale Winner of the 8th Annual Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series competition. Along with Lam, Rae announced the second place winner Ariel Vargassal from Los Angeles and People’s Choice winner Charity White from Chicago.
3. Laolu’s ‘Sacred Art of the Ori Yoruba’ at SCOPE Art Show
SCOPE Art Show is always filled with unforgettable artwork, but this year an unsung hero in the art world made waves unlike any other artist in the building. In partnership with the Bronze Kingdom gallery, multifaceted artist Laolu “NYC” Senbanjo, who’s artwork was featured in Beyonce’s Lemonade film on HBO, has made a name for himself by embracing his family’s Yoruba roots from Nigeria to create Afromysteric pieces on everything from clothing to the human body.
After spending the last year curating exhibits from coast to coast, Laolu returned to Art Basel to put his ‘Sacred Art of the Ori Yoruba’ on display, which includes an extraordinary piece featuring ‘Orange Is The New Black’ star Danielle Brooks. Brooks poses nude but is completely covered with unique designs in white paint. Another amazing work of art that stood out from the rest was the beautifully complex ‘Dreamscape’ piece, which fuses colorful, urban art with his unique Yoruba style.
2. iii Points Art Basel Concert Series Presents Wu Tang Clan
iii Point has a tendency to bring out the legends for their Art Basel Concert Series, and this year they tapped the Shaolin Warriors to take over Wynwood for their iconic show. Mana Wynwood was jam-packed with thousands of loyal fans of the Wu-Tang Clan, who came to see the Staten Island OG’s reunite in Miami for a once-in-a-lifetime performance. Before the show, bright, yellow lights flashed all around the venue as fans were greeted at the doors with a Ketel One bar dispersing free samples. Wu’s iconic logo hovered above the ever-growing crowd as they snapped flicks of the Shaolin-inspired buildings made of bricks on stage.
Once the entire venue faded to black, the entire clan walked out to roars of cheers that Ol’ Dirty Bastard could hear in the heavenly skies. RZA, GZA, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah, U-God, Masta Killa, Cappadonna, and the Method Man sent the room into a frenzy once they established that Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to f*ck with. Although they just dropped their new album The Saga Continues, Wu-Tang focused on bringing their classic recorss to life like “Bring Da Pain”, “C.R.E.A.M” and plenty more.
1. Swizz Beatz & Bacardi’s ‘No Commission Miami’
After traveling around the world with a team of revolutionary artists, Swizz Beatz and Bacardi brought ‘No Commission’ back to Miami to celebrate the 2-year anniversary of ‘The Dean Collection.’ With his wifey Alicia Keys by his side, the seasoned artist and producer enlisted a squad of critically acclaimed visual artists like Derrick Adams, Michael Vasquez, and Renee Cox to curate the most popular gallery in Wynwood. SoHo Studios was transformed into a mecca of art and rap for three days while a wide range of performers hit the stage, including Swizz himself.
After DJ’s like Virgil Abloh kicked off the epic art show, the island theme was in full affect when reggae icons like Chronixxx and Stone Love hit the stage on Friday. ‘No Commission Miami’ had no choice but to close out with a bang with Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz on the playbill. Other special guests like A$AP Rocky, Busta Rhymes, DJ Nasty of We The Best, and DJ Khaled also made the show unforgettable with their impromptu performances.