On the opening night of BK‘s latest show in Rio de Janeiro, fans have packed out a venue that for the last four decades has carried a history of hosting some of the world’s most influential bands.
BK’ is the star of the night. At one point, he appears suspended in the air with wings, before descending to the stage like a fallen angel. Here, the Arches of Lapa compose the red light-bathed scene, designed in reference to the color of sin.
It makes sense in the knowledge that for his ICARUS album, crafted in collaboration with producer JXNV$’, BK’ was inspired by a religious and mythological universe. In a narrative that connects the past with the current daily life of Rio de Janeiro’s corners, the rapper worked side by side with technology, using augmented reality and artificial intelligence to bring his audiences to the dimension he is imagining.
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This transgression through time aims to circulate between different realities and contexts. “How do we ensure that this story has its roots in Rio but can be told in São Paulo, Tokyo, and New York? We didn’t want it to stay in the past, and technology was the tool we used to do it”, says Gabriel França, the album’s creative director.For the rapper, the conceptualization process is usually a solitary one, so the experience of working with a team was challenging. “I do a lot alone in the conceptual part of the work, following only my intuition so opening this up to many people was something different for me,” he says. “The writing part remains solitary, but when it comes to delivering a larger project, we also need to set the artist’s ego aside and start having a team to make things work better.”
On the album’s debut, BK’ invited artist Nikolas Demurtas to produce a work inspired by “The Flight of Icarus” painted by Flemish Baroque painter Jacob Peter Gowy in the 1600s. That historical piece was the inspiration for the name of the album. Nikolas’ version, with BK’ as a protagonist, was exhibited to the public at the Museum of Image and Sound, where the audience had the chance to interact with the piece through augmented reality.
At one point in the show, a version of BK’s childhood was produced by Artificial Intelligence to be displayed while he sings “Continuação de um sonho” (Continuation of a dream), a song about how the dreams of a community pass through generations. “We asked for a photo archive from BK’s mother, and the artists developed this,” explains the entrepreneur Victor Senedesi.
Ultimately, though, the team’s collective goal was to elevate the reference level of rap shows in Brazil. “Perhaps the idea is to show what we as rappers and hip-hop culture can do. Some people say they’re no longer rappers and now are artists, but within our culture, we can do things that compete with any other artist”, reflects BK’.
Hypebeast connected with the entire creative team of the project to understand how working together around a project raised expectations and brought another experience to the rap audience in Brazil.
How do you see Brazil’s position in this evolution of music projects compared to other places in the world?
Renan Andrade (Artistic Director): Here in Brazil we are growing a lot because we have continental dimensions, so we can have the structure for it. I believe that we have a cultural barrier because we have the ‘culture of spontaneity’. Here, when you want to do something more spectacular, people still hold back. Spectacularization doesn’t restrict spontaneity, it complements it.
What was the moment when you looked at Jacob Peter Gowy’s work and made the connection between the concept of the album and technology?
Gabriel França (Creative Director): When we enter this ICARUS universe, many possibilities and icons are opened for us to work on communication. This environment of the Greek world, the symbologies and analogies that we can make, all of it connect with the city but manages to give another reading and bring more layers.
Victor Senedesi (Executive Producer): Myths were always used to tell morals. And the idea of the album is to have a moral. Once we make this connection, this moral becomes more digestible. The intention is to come out of this album and understand that not everything is more beautiful than it seems.
Technology is very present in the project. What was the process of interacting with AI and augmented reality?
Christiano Pix (Creative Director): We find it interesting to use technology, but as a narrative resource to complement what the music is saying. We are in a moment where it is accessible to do something like this. In the end, we were able to do it through a photo tool, so it was interesting.
How do you always seek something out of the ordinary to differentiate yourself in the market and not abandon the roots of the streets?
BK’: The important thing is to let your art flow, of course, you will have to update yourself, understanding the things that the scene has, but not let any of it speak for your work. You keep trying to improve, advance your work, and help people’s work.
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