James Pate: The Ice Cube of Contemporary Art
The morning after the exhibit opening of Kin Killin’ Kin< at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, I drove to Dayton, Ohio to gain a deeper understanding of the images from the artist James Pate. I had no intentions on expressing my thoughts, yet I felt compelled and moved to do so. Being a child of the Hip Hop generation, I discovered several similarities between Pate and O’Shea Jackson, famously known as Ice Cube.
Ice Cube is often credited with shaping gangsta’ rap in the 90’s. Nevertheless, his creative expression reflected the harsh realities occurring in many communities across the country. I was 16 years-old when Ice Cube released his debut solo album, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. This classic album is laced with ground-level views of urban communities that are vivid, often frightening, revolutionary and very personal. The most intense and thought provoking track on the album is Endangered Species (Tales from the Darkside), featuring Chuck D from Public Enemy. This track reflects the social and systemic dysfunction that lead to homicides and the epidemic of gun violence which we still struggle with nearly three decades later.