Since the beginning hip-hop artists have taken pride in the places they come from and make mention of their stomping grounds in the rhymes they write. For his latest project Rap Quotes the artist and self-proclaimed ‘nerdy hip-hop fan’ Jay Shells has begun to go around New York City, marking the spots that artists have given shout-outs to.

Shells says it started one day while he was at home listening to Big L’s ‘Lifestyles Ov Da Poor and Dangerous

I heard myself kicking along with ‘on 139 and Lenox Ave there’s a big park,’ and I just thought ‘I want to go put a stake in the ground there so that people know that when they’re coming by that this shit is mentioned in a classic hip-hop song’.

Since then he has travelled around the city and has put up more than thirty five red signs with classic hip-hop lyrics blazing across them, from famed talents such as Mos Def, Kanye West, Nas, and Busta Rhymes.

As he began to post the signs he enlisted the help of Aymann Ismail to come along and document the process on film, resulting in a video that was later posted on YouTube and Vimeo. Since the video was created, the project has been covered by the likes of the Huffington Post and Slate. Shells says he has been contacted by people beyond New York City, from places like Philadelphia and Los Angeles, and has been asked to travel in order to put up more signs.

Image: Broken Culture

While the project is technically illegal Shell has no problem facing a bit of risk in order to bring hip-hop back to where it belongs and it is not the first time he has gone against the law for art’s sake. Previous projects include a campaign posted in subways about ‘subway etiquette’ and the creation of the Metropolitan Etiquette Authority under which he made street signs in a similar style to those of Rap Quotes but that offered up advice on how to be a better citizen. On the Twitter page for the project, @TheRapQuotes, you can find the latest signs Shell is posting.

Image: Boing Boing

Image: Animal New York

Images: ANIMAL New York, Broken Culture, Boing Boing.
Words: Emma Remington