Rap lyric project takes art from street to gallery

March 3, 2014 • Entertainment

In this photo taken Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, a pedestrian passes by a picture of a hip-hop themed sign at the intersection of Sunset Blvd. and La Brea Ave., in Los Angeles. Street artist Jay Shells installed the sign after one day when he caught the name of a nearby intersection cited in a hip-hop song he’d been playing. Shells has put up scores of carefully drawn, hand-screened signs featuring the words of other rappers. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Artist Jay Shells was in his New York City studio last year, painting while listening to rapper Big L, when some lyrics booming through the room grabbed his attention: “On 139 and Lenox Ave, there’s a big park. And if you’re soft, don’t go through it when it gets dark.”

Shells, 34, knew that park. It was just up the street in Harlem. That’s when he got an idea to take Big L’s words, put them on an official-looking city street sign and hang it at that very intersection, a sort of historical marker for hip-hop.

A year later, Shells has put up dozens of carefully drawn, hand-screened signs in New York and Los Angeles, celebrating rap through the words of Jay Z, Nas, Login to read more

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