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The EvO:R Street Journal
The EvO:R Street Journal
Dedicated to the culture, business and interests of the indie artist.
EVJ delivers controversial points of view, hard-news commentary, Industry Insites,
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RockPop Cover Story: "Unbelievable" by Howie Green
by Mike Goldstein,
Subject - "Unbelievable", a mixed-media image created in
2006 by artist/illustrator Howie Green. Used on the cover of Mick Boogie's "Unbelievable: A Tribute
to Biggie Smalls", a 2007 release on Bad Boy records.
Provided by the MusicDish Network. Copyright © MusicDish LLC 2007 - Republished with Permission
"Unbelievable: A Tribute to Biggie Smalls" - from the mickboogie.com (producer) web site.
On the 10th anniversary of the tragic passing of Christopher 'Notorious B.I.G.' Wallace, Mick Boogie
and newcomer Terry Urban of the League Crew team up to release Unbelievable: A Tribute To Biggie Smalls,
a project that many critics are calling "the best Biggie mixtape ever." Hosted by Sean "Diddy" Combs,
this 100% creative mixtape features Biggie material remixed the way it was supposed to be done. Original
beats and special guest appearances, as well as plenty of crazy remixes, are abundant throughout the project.
Unbelievable: A Tribute to Biggie Smalls - the cover, by Howie Green
I always find it interesting when small personal projects, like my Biggie Smalls portraits, strike a
chord with a public audience and go on to have life of their own. Being of a certain age I wouldn't
exactly call myself a rap or hip hop aficionado - but I do know a great face when I see one and Biggie
Smalls was one cool looking guy. I came across some photos of the Notorious B.I.G. when I was researching
possible images for a mural project I was working on - a 30' x 15' wall of my album cover paintings.
The mural, now located in Jacksonville, FL, needed to have a wide cross section of musical styles
represented and I was looking for recording artists that were well known to most people. I found
two vintage black and white promotional images of Biggie that reminded me of the kind of old school
look that the jazz cats of the 1950s and the Blues guys of the 1930 used to have - "Cool" as they
could possibly be.
I listened to a bunch of Biggie's tracks and I could see why he had become such a popular rapper and
why he's become a legend since his death. His musical contributions are public record but what most
interested me most was the way he looked. Most rappers dress up in big sneakers and street clothes and
cover themselves with all manner of accouterment, but not Biggie. Biggie was a style maven and when it
came to his look he had it going on! I know that an accident made him have to use a cane to walk around
but the man turned the cane into a cool accessory. I appreciate anyone who can wear a hat and no one in
recent history looked cooler in a hat that Mr. Smalls.
I did paintings of both the photos I found and proposed them for the mural but for various reasons they
were not used and I put them in my online gallery for folks to see. About 6 months later I got contacted
by a fellow named Mick Boogie who told me he was producing an album of Biggie's tracks and wanted to know
if I would allow them to use one of my Biggie portraits as the cover artwork for the CD versions. I was
happy that my art would finally get some use so I agreed and the album, by LCMG Productions, came out
in early April to great acclaim and is making a lot of noise among the hip hop community. Before the
album's release I got my pre-release copies and was surprised at the stellar lineup of talent on the
tracks including none other than Sean "DIDDY" Combs as the album's host. In addition to P Diddy the
tracks include The Clipse, NAS, Jay-Z, 2Pac, Lil Kim, Lil Wayne, Mobb Deep, Kayne West and others.
Several days after the album came out I was very surprised to get a photo emailed to me by Mick
Boogie of him and P Diddy holding the CD with my album cover artwork (see below). I have received
several emails from folks who appeared on the album expressing their appreciation of the cover
and Mick is having me do a very large version of the cover done that will be given to P Diddy to
hang up in the offices of Bad Boy Entertainment."
Howie Green Bio
Howie's design and illustration work has won over 40 awards from regional and national design
competitions. Howie's portrait "Madonna Smoking" was featured in the 2004 British Art book
"Madonna in Art" by Mem Memet. Recently one of Howie's album cover paintings won First Prize
in the Absolut Vodka 25th Anniversary art competition in Boson, MA.
In 1992 Howie Green came to national attention as a painter and artist with the publication of
his book "Jazz Fish Zen: Adventures in Mamboland". His colorful and whimsical artwork has been
featured in 18 group and solo shows and has adorned 9 public and private murals. He regularly
creates privately commissioned portraits and corporate logo paintings.
Born in Rochester, NY and raised in Rochester and Clarence Center, NY, Howie Green has a unique
artist's eye for the colorful fun that springs out of our popular culture. Images from comics,
celebrities, movies, TV and various other flotsam and jetsam that washes up on the rocky shores
of our popular media all make their way into Howie's colorful and fun Pop Art creations.
When Howie entered art school in the mid-60s at RIT in Rochester, NY, it was an explosive time
in popular culture. While there Howie was exposed to color guru Josef Albers, typographic master
Hermann Zaph, sculptor Wendell Castle and most importantly color theorist, painter and architect
Fritz Trautman. Later, when Howie was art director of "New Age Journal", he was contacted by Peter
Max after he had done a Max-like illustration for the magazine. Howie recalls "Peter saw my
illustration and called me to see if we would like to use him to do artwork for the magazine.
I was thrilled! Not only did he do artwork for "New Age Journal" for me, but I also worked with
him for several years on projects for the University of New Hampshire. I'm also proud to say,
Peter did his very first sports painting for me for the cover of the Boston Celtics Media Guide."
Howie has continued through the 1990s and into the new millennium to paint and create new images
and works that combine his endless curiosity, technology and color...lots and lots of color!
Regarding his use of color Howie said, "I was in art school during the era, of Peter Max, Yellow
Submarine and the San Francisco rock posters. What can I say? I guess it "colored" my thinking!"
Today, Howie uses a pop-fauvist color palette and has an eclectic, upbeat, approach to his subject
matter. Howie says a lot of people tell him that they love "his colors". Howie comments "My colors?
They don't belong to me. Colors are out there floating around. I just happen to use them all!"
Howie's celebrity portraits combine digital technology and traditional painting to reflect the genre
developed by Warhol and Max, but in a whole new approach, unique to Howie. "I was looking for a way
to do something with my art and with my growing pile of computers and technology and I found it."
In 2006, Howie created an album cover-covered cow sculpture for the 2006 Boston "Cows on Parade"
display to benefit the Jimmy Fund and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. His album cover cow - which
featured 39 album covers by Boston-based bands - sold at auction for over $6000. Another work -
his "Flower Cow" - sold at auction for $8500. Both cows were sold at the final auction in September
2006, with all the money going to benefit the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. His 2007
began with an installation at the Mellow Mushroom restaurant in Fleming Island Florida (featuring
over 50 of his record cover recreations!), and his commission for the new Notorious B.I.G. tribute
Cleveland-based DJ/producer Mick Boogie sourced the title for this tribute record from "Unbelievable",
a track from Biggie's 1994 release titled "Ready To Die". Ready to Die was a hugely-influential
hardcore rap recording, as it established the Notorious B.I.G., his record label (Bad Boy) and label
impresario Sean (Puffy/P.Diddy) Combs as the ones to beat on the East Coast.
ESJ is looking for writers/poets for our next issues.
All work is appreciated and will be published (with the exception
of articles containing racism, bigotry or other demeaning topics)
Also, this is a PG-13 rating and will be censored if you do not edit
it. Please e-mail The EvO:R Street Journal.