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The Chief Architect of Gangsta Rap
Ilja Karilampi

Ilja Karilampi’s video The Chief Architect of Gangsta Rap makes the conjecture that Andre Young, better known as Dr. Dre (b. 1965), studied architecture before becoming famous as a hip-hop producer and rapper.

The Berlin-based artist describes Dre’s rise in the music industry, from his early techno-influenced records, to his role in the controversial group N.W.A., and finally to Dre’s solo albums and major collaborations with fellow rappers Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and 50 Cent.

Throughout the video, the artist proposes Dre’s connections to and opinions of the work of Modernist architects like Le Corbusier (1887–1965). Karilampi also incorporates his own biography into the video, speaking about how his life has intersected with Dre’s music. Though Karilampi offers no proof to his assertions, the video presents its own, nearly convincing logic. Although imagining of the types of buildings the music producer would design may seem far reaching, Karilampi’s suggestion that urban planning—in this particular case, it is that of Los Angeles’s Compton neighborhood—significantly helps in shaping the culture of a region contains more fact than fiction.

Keywords Music, Architecture
Aspect ratio 1.33:1 (4:3)
Prod. format Generic SD-video
Duration 00:11:11
Language English & Swedish
Color Color
Sound Stereo
Year 2009
Rent this work for public screenings

About the artist

Ilja Karilampi

Born in 1983 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Currently based in Stockholm.

In the video “Chief Architect of Gangsta Rap” (2009), Ilja Karilampi explores a rumor that Dr Dre studied to become an architect before joining N.W.A. Taking that work as a starting point, Karilampi has in the recent decade gone on to create a series of exhibitions and works that aesthetically reflect the music world, personal narratives, and odd expressions. Applying various media such as UV-vinyl, film, aluminum & plexiglas, audio tracks, literary texts, and larger installations that play with expectations of time & space, he has proved to be a vibrant & curious artist who depicts our current state.”
– Sten Nordenhake, 2019

“More often than not Karilampi’s behavior genuinely seems to diverge from the day-to-day normative human encounter, predominantly setting itself apart by continuously manifesting—at least allegorically—an unspoiled nature of impulse. The initial frustration of witnessing first hand the artist’s acutely non-gentrified way of interaction exits as rapidly as it enters. Somehow it’s immediately apparent that, if anything, his chaotic posture contributes and parallels only further to the intentionality behind his art practice: a playful homage to a thrivingly memory-less and hyper-plasticized society.

His work, a variety of media, reflects concurrent reality of the personal and public that constantly coincides within the domain of mass-consumerism. Referencing an array of fast-lived pop-culture commodities—like the easily recognizable Drake logo OVO XO or Chobani Greek yogurt—the audience is thrown into a die-hard- sort of cosmos where an inevitable confrontation with (actual) real-life concern takes place.”– COEVAL MAGAZINE, 2016