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Phife Dawg, Prodigy & Jam Master Jay sculptures coming to Queens Public Library

A Cypher In Queens

Three late Queens rap legends — Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC, Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest, and Prodigy of Mobb Deep — will be honored in their home borough with a nine-foot tall sculpture of each rapper by artist Sherwin Banfield at the Queens Public Library’s central library in Jamaica. The installment, titled “A Cypher In Queens,” debuted in Long Island City’s Socrates Sculpture Park last year, and that’s a photo of Banfield with the sculptures last year above. Here’s more info about the opening at the library via AM New York:

The works feature busts atop renditions of stacked speaker boxes and the tall wooden musical instrument called the “slit gong” found in villages across Ambrym Island in the Pacific Ocean. Each sculpture represents where the musician is from — Jam Master Jay was from Hollis, Phife Dawg was from Linden and Prodigy was from Queensbridge. With headphones in front of the sculptures, visitors can listen to their music.

Banfield said he created them out of a need to see the artists represented in cultural institutions.

“I am crazy excited to personally introduce my sculptures and to hear the response from library visitors and the community at large because this will be something they’ve never seen before,” he told amNewYork. “These legends of hip-hop left a mark on my life and countless others around the world, and to bring sculptural representations of them to a great institution such as the Queens Public Library, where they can be studied, debated and reflected upon, allows their legacy to be further cemented in Queens history. It’s about preserving hip-hop history, and I’m trying to introduce sculpture as an alternative medium for hip-hop preservation.”

Ralph McDaniels, the former Video Music Box host and the current hip hop coordinator for the Queens Public Library, added, “We’re celebrating 50 years of hip-hop in three years, and it is not only a tribute to the artists, but gives fans sense of connecting with their favorite music and artists, and those who don’t know them can get a chance to learn — not just the songs, but more about them.”

The sculptures will be unveiled on September 19 at 3 PM with a ceremony at 6 PM featuring music by DJ Jason Mizell Jr. (Jam Master Jay’s son) and spoken word by Cheryl Boyce-Taylor (Phife Dawg’s mother).

McDaniels also has other hip hop oriented events coming up at the Queens Public Library, and you can check out the library’s calendar for more.

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