Jean-Michel Basquiat

French Name… Haitian Heritage

The Legacy

Prominence in Black Culture

Jean-Michel makes many notable appearances in Hip-Hop lyrics. Often, he is referred to as an example of black excellence- the example of a man from downtown Brooklyn infiltrating a commercially white-controlled arena and making his own stamps. Examples of some of his appearances are below:

Jay-Z & Kanye West (Illest Mother Alive)


Rap lyric at 03:25- Basquiat, Warhol serving as my muses/ My house is a museum so I see it when I’m peeing/ Usually you have this much taste, you European/That’s the end of that way of thinking n**** never again

Jay-Z & Rick Ross (3 Kings)


Rap lyric at 03:04- Bansky b******, Basquiat/I ran through that buck fifty Live Nation fronted me/They working on another deal, they talking 250

Quote from Jay-Z:

“One Basquiat print I own is called Charles the First—it’s about Charlie Parker, the jazz pioneer who died young of a heroin overdose, like Basquiat. In the corner of the painting are the words, MOST YOUNG KINGS GET THEIR HEAD CUT OFF….I read it as a statement about what happens when you achieve a certain position. You become a target. People want to take your head, your crown, your title. They want to emasculate you… One critic said about Basquiat that the boys in his paintings didn’t grow up to be men, they grew up to be corpses, skeletons, and ghosts. Maybe that’s the curse of being young, black, and gifted in America….I’m trying to rewrite the old script, but Basquiat’s painting sits on my wall like a warning.” (The Huffington Post)