After laying low for a few months, Jay Shells is back in New York City, where he just put up 21 new street signs. In case you aren't familiar with Shells, the artist first gained attention in the street art world for his Rap Quotes sign project. The dude takes rap lyrics that reference to street corners around New York and installs signs of them at the actual locations. Just a few days ago, for instance, Shells hung up a Rakim quote next to the Apollo in Harlem and shouted out to Nicki Minaj's old block too. Needless to say, we're a huge fan of his work. As you can imagine, however, not everyone gets it.
“99% of people we encounter love it. Yesterday, however, an older fella in Harlem leaving church was deeply offended by the sign I put up on 110 & Lenox. It shows you how important context is with this project." Shells told Animal New York, referring to a Sadat X sign. The lyrics in question are, "I'm on 110 & Lenox with these Africans, overseen' our physical being and how we doing it." The man was so mad, he actually took down Shells' sign and threw it in the trash.
Shells was recently in Los Angeles, where he installed 45 signs. 26 more are set to hit the streets of L.A. before his Gallery 1988 East exhibition opens April 25. After that, the artist will take on Philadelphia this summer and Atlanta in the fall, so we can expect more rap-inspired street signs to come.