In our exclusive series, Tupac Art Inspiration, we have brought you some of the best Tupac artwork done by some talented artists. We have also heard some inspirational stories of how the influence of Tupac and hip-hop have been at the been the base of their awesome artwork.
We spoke with twenty-three-year-old Dutch artist Christophe Jacobs about his passion for hip-hop, drawing and Tupac. Born in Helmond near Eindhoven and introduced to hip-hop at an early age, Christophe has carried the love for the genre into his art.
O4L Online: Firstly, Christophe, you grew up in the Netherlands known for being a European hip-hop heartland. What were your earliest memories of hip-hop?
I’m the youngest of four brothers, so growing up they showed me how to do things and what was cool and not. Especially my oldest brother, he got me listening to hip-hop when I was young like eight-years-old. He’d be listening to hip-hop with friends and I’d get acquainted with the songs. Sometimes he would test me on song titles and artists. Artists I already listened to back then were Tupac, Kanye West and Lil Wayne.
O4L Online: You’ve got a great education in hip-hop! Qualified in medicine, you do drawings in any spare time that you get. What’s the time frame for creating a portrait from start to finish?
That’s a tough one. Right now, a lot of my time goes to my internships. With the little time left in the evenings, I try to focus on my art. This varies between half an hour and three hours a workday. Usually, it takes me one and a half months to finish a piece. I’ve tried timing my process, but find myself forgetting to start the timer too many times.
O4L Online: Your love for hip-hop spills over into your drawings, with the Tupac drawing you did which is dope! The attention to the fine detail of his face is simply breathtaking! What made you want to draw Tupac Shakur and What sort of feedback have you had?
I did a Biggie drawing before the Tupac one, but already then I decided a Tupac drawing couldn’t be missing. I’ve had different kinds of feedback on it. A lot of people tell me they love the detail of it and express their love for ‘Pac. Others comment that it doesn’t look like Tupac. And to be honest, I can see why they say that. It doesn’t have that typical look ‘Pac used to give. Part of the reason for this is that I did not use an actual picture for this drawing. I used a digital sculpt made by Hossein Diba. I follow him on Instagram and he makes this amazingly realistic digital sculpts. The sculpt looks almost perfectly like Tupac. Unfortunately, I think this led to the drawing looking more like the sculpt than like ‘Pac.
O4L Online: Listening to Tupac evokes different emotional feelings depending on the song playing. Can you list your top 5 Tupac songs and give the reason why you chose them?
- Changes – Best message over a powerful beat.
- California love – West Coast Anthem. Fresh out of jail he came with this banger verse. Dr Dre did his thing too with the beat.
- Hit Em Up – I love the aggressiveness in this, even though I’m a huge Biggie fan.
- Ambitions az a Ridah – I like his attitude on this song, the confidence on a simplistic beat.
- Hail Mary – The dark beat with Makaveli’s memorable hook and verses. Also, the way he starts verse 1 is just iconic.
Modern Day Hip-Hop Would Be Different If Tupac Was Still Alive
O4L Online: With everything that’s going on around the world, Tupac’s message is still relevant today. If ‘Pac was alive today, what do you think he’d be doing?
If Tupac didn’t die, I think hip-hop would be different today. Don’t get me wrong, hip-hop evolves no matter what. But I think certain types would not have gotten the chance to be bigger than they were back then. If we’re talking about hip-hop at it’s the current state and ‘Pac being alive, I think he still would be doing his thing. Besides rapping and acting he might have done something in politics. No presidential politics, but surely doing his best to make life better for people that need it.
O4L Online: Some of the other artists you’ve drawn are Lil Wayne, The Game and Notorious B.I.G. Out of all the drawings you’ve done, which one is your favorite and why?
My favorite drawing always used to be my newest one. Every drawing would be better than the previous one. With every drawing, I try something new. With the Kanye one, I added all my favorite lines from his full discography in the background and added paint strokes in the colors of all of his albums. Looking back that’s still one of the best because it shows more than just a face. But the one really standing out for me, right now, is the J.I.D one. I love the detail of it, especially the jersey. With the white square in it, it gets a 3D-effect which makes it very unique from my other drawings.
O4L Online: It’s great to see an artist such as yourself keeping the hip-hop movement going through art. When you’re drawing a specific artist, do you listen to their music to connect and help you focus?
I do, actually! I listen to their songs over and over again. Maybe annoying for the people around me but I love it.
O4L Online: In recent years, hip-hop’s younger generation of mainstream rappers has attacked the so-called ‘golden age of hip-hop’. What do you think of the evolution of hip-hop to what it is today?
As I said, hip-hop evolves. It did in the ’90s, it did in the 00’s and it will keep doing that. It seemed like lyricism was dead for a while if you looked at the popular artists. But hip-hop is more than lyricism. Trap music is a part of hip-hop too. Songs with lots of 808’s and repetitive hooks are also a part of hip-hop. Recent years lyricism is becoming popular again. I can enjoy all of these sub-genres. A problem I do find is that once you get fifteen minutes of fame for doing whatever, suddenly you’re making rap songs too because it sells. Luckily for us, those people don’t come far.
O4L Online: Do you have any future plans for your drawings?
I have a lot of ideas in my head. I will put more rappers on paper and on canvases. I’m not spoiling too much, but for updates on who’s next, keep a close eye on my Instagram.