Jay Shells Brings Rap Lyric Landmark Signs to New York City

Slate's Culture Blog
March 25 2013 5:41 PM

New York City’s Rap Lyric Landmarks

The New York-focused website Animal has a new video documenting an art project by Jay Shells called Rap Quotes, in which he attaches signs with rap lyrics to poles at their appropriate New York City addresses. Outside the Marcy Houses in Brooklyn, for instance, Shells put up a Jay-Z lyric: “Cough up a lung where I’m from/ Marcy son, ain’t nothin’ nice.” Elsewhere in the borough, the intersection of Broadway and Myrtle Avenue gets its Mos Def line: “I’m blacker than midnight at Broadway and Myrtle.”

Does he have permission from the city? Of course not. And Shells doesn’t expect the signs to be up long—even if the police and other city workers leave them be, he figures rap fans will take them home. And that’s fine with him. “Within a week,” he says, “I think they’ll be gone.”

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David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

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