Anyone who’s been a fan of hip hop will understand how the genre and culture thrives in visual form. You can go back to graffiti crews throwing up pieces, flamboyant music videos which extend the appeal of the music, or memorable album artwork which immediately tells you what mood to expect. Using the visual format, artists’ personas are communicated to the public and it takes the character beyond beats and rhymes.

British visual artist Stu Mason is set to embrace this format of the movement, and is launching a series of illustrations that “pay testament to the restorative power of hip-hop”. By day, Stu is a professional designer with two decades of experience, and described how the art was created “by way of survival”.

Over the years, musicians, song writers and producers are known to have used their creation process as an outlet for their own mental relief. Stu’s illustrations are also an escape. “Every spare moment, I’ve been head down, headphones on, scribbling away. They help keeping my head straight whilst I’ve been flat out with work”.

With 40 years worth of Hip hop legends Stu had to go with, he eventually chose four undisputed dons who had an undeniable impact. Biggie, Tupac, Gangstarr and Nas were illustrated for this collection. Stu used to draw the posters of these in his bedroom, explaining… “My walls were covered and I would spend hours and hours drawing away”.

“It always interested me how so many photos (like the ‘All Eyez On Me’ artwork) were in shadows. So when I started drawing in this way, light on dark, it made sense to go back the images that inspired me originally.”

When actually delivering these pieces, Stu wanted to do something a little out of the ordinary, and stand out in this sector . “I wanted to create something that’s elevated, more aesthetically pleasing – something that isn’t going to make your lounge look like a teenager’s bedroom”.

However, this is just the beginning of the road for Stu. He explained how “there’s no real end in sight. I would love to do a UK focused series, with the OGs like Roots Manuva, Black Twang and Phi Life Cypher, through to people like Verb T, Fliptrix, Dabbla et al”.

Each piece of Stu’s artwork is screen printed onto Colorplan Ebony paper, at 270gsm. Each one is numbered, signed and hand-finished before being shipped in postal tubes.

Each of the images shows the rappers in three circumstances, and is superimposed with one of the artist’s lyrics, which Stu believes “is pertinent to their career and best represents them and their legacy.”

You can check out Stu’s work at stumason.comYou can also follow him via: