In Hopes Their Legacy Lives On: Behind ‘Future Hendrix’ Created by Lobyn

Future HendrixThis summer at Zucot Gallery we are featuring a number of artists in our Spring Palette Cleanse including Indianapolis based artist Lobyn Hamilton. Known as “The Vinyl Record Artist”, Lobyn is famous for his portrayals of black women or artists from shards of broken records. Images of popular artists, such as Lauryn Hill, Billy Holiday, and Marvin Gaye have been immortalized in Lobyn’s art with the medium being their own music. One of the more unique pieces we have, Future Hendrix, pays homage to two music artists at the same time. As one can guess by the title the two subjects of the work are the iconic singer, songwriter, and guitarist Jimi Hendrix and the more recent, yet also iconic trap rapper Future; the portrait emulating a classic photo of Hendrix while the medium contains shards of Future’s third album Dirty Sprite 2.

Due to Future and Jimi Hendrix’s division in era, genre, and audience it is rare to see them together in any context which adds to the anomaly of the piece. Lobyn’s hint to both of their drug usages in the purple color adds just enough history and ingenuity to complete the parallel between the two artists. One of Hendrix’s singles from 1967, “Purple Haze” was described as “a potpourri of ideas” by biographer Keith Shadwick[1], however, it never directly mentions or clearly alludes to drugs. Though, as pointed out by Harry Shapiro[2], it would have been “professional suicide” to do so in 1967 so the speculations that Purple Haze is influenced by Hendrix’s drug use can be credited to his audience. But with lines like “Excuse me while I kiss the sky” and “Don’t know if I’m coming up or down” can we blame them?

Future’s music tells a much less cryptic story. With the progression and development of music from 1967 to 2015, censorship in the American media has become significantly more lenient, artists’ content has become more explicit, and the public has acquired a taste for more “real” lyricism. For example, the album that Lobyn used to create Future Hendrix is called Dirty Sprite 2, which is as direct of a title Future could have used to reference the narcotic lean without titling the album “Lean: a concoction of promethazine, codeine cough syrup, Sprite, and occasionally Jolly Ranchers”. Commonly, lean is purple because it is made with Codeine. This is where the nick name “purple drank” comes from and what makes the deep purple color of Future Hendrix so appropriate.

It may seem like a stretch to compare the late rock n’ roll legend to a recent artist of such a new genre as Trap, but Lobyn was not the first to make the comparison. “Future Hendrix” is actually a term that has been around for the past couple of years ever since a meme appeared on the internet proposing the idea that trap trio Migos may be better than the Beatles. This prompted Off-set, a member of the Migos, to ask “Why wouldn’t [Y.R.N] be better that The Beatles?” in a Rolling Stone Interview[3]. This developed into the Migos being dubbed “The New Beatles” by fans who thought that they were. Around this same time trap fans began to juxtapose other trap artists to rock legends and, in result, Future’s career was compared to Jimi Hendrix’s. Hence: Future Hendrix, a name Future has openly accepted.

With a combination of Lobyn’s masterful use of a non-traditional medium, the legendary status of Future and Jimi Hendrix; and the deep, velvety purple color of the piece, Future Hendrix would be a unique addition to anyone’s art collection—or a great start to one! We encourage Lobyn Hamilton fans, Future fans, Jimi Hendrix fans, vinyl record enthusiasts, DJ’s and producers, or even collectors of African American to come into the gallery to see the magnificence of this piece and other Lobyn pieces in person.

  • Written by Camille Ragland 

[1] Shadwick, Keith (2003). Jimi Hendrix: Musician. Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-764-1.

[2] Shapiro, Harry; Glebbeek, Cesar (1990). Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy. St. Martin’s Press. ISBN 0-312-05861-6.

[3] Murray, Nick. (2016) “Migos Prep New LP: ‘Why Wouldn’t It Be Better Than The Beatles'” Rolling Stone.

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