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  • Words and Photos by Erica Stella

King Saladeen at The Compound

With many of my stories on Sold Magazine, I try to weave in my love for hip hop, the music and culture that influenced my generation, and so many industries still to this day. Graffiti is one of the creative pillars of hip hop, and from that birthplace in the Bronx - we have witnessed and experienced a worldwide art revolution.

In 2018, today's music and fashion has evolved, but still reflects the streets we live on. Those who know, are quick to call out anything that isn't real. And we know how fast someone is called a TOY. The "Old New York" may be dead, but here we are today. We look back for inspiration, but we must always keep pushing and moving forward.

So where does that leave graffiti? For many people engrained in this culture, our hope is that it evolves to a place where it is respected, given proper credit as the beginning of the art movement we see today. The writers on the trains, the alley ways and under passes hoped that a place like The Compound would one day exist.

Photo of Mos Def hanging in the entrance to the gallery side of The Compound

Untitled x 2, King Saladeen

The Factory Meets The Electric Lady Studios

The Compound, a creative agency and gallery space was established this Summer, co-founded by hip hop royalty, Yasiin Bey AKA The Mighty Mos Def and Free Richardson. Free (Creative Director, AND1 mixtapes), set out to create a space in this Mott Haven neighborhood (piano district), of the South Bronx. He not only aimed to evoke the energy and collaboration of Andy Warhol's Factory, but the inspiration of the legendary Electric Lady Studios, still located today in the West Village. With the original workspace across the highway from the gallery, both spaces aim to bring inspiration and collaboration to the creatives people who come through.

The 1st official exhibition at the new space showcased images from hip hop legendary photographer, Jonathan Mannion. Many of his famous photographs are memories shared amongst millions over decades; a perfect way to kick off the space, and bring that energy to the new.

1st gallery room

The Sophmore Showcase

King Saladeen is up next, and after the explosion of his collection with Foot Action/Champion, he is bigger than ever. His work is an example of bringing together today's hip hop culture and evoking his flavor from NYC's 6th borough Philadelphia, PA.

pieces from "A Way Out" by King Saladeen

Free spent half of his childhood growing up in SW Philadelphia, so they connected immediately. A smart and embracing choice to bring the City of Brotherly Love to the Bronx, and give him a proper platform for his first solo show.

'A Way Out' is a redemptive story told through the artist's character in a range of mediums and colors. Driven to create him by the passing of his late friend JP Thompson, "JP The Money Bear" was born in testament. "Dream Big" was written along with other inspirational statements throughout the pieces. Images of The Beatles, Prince and MJ; along with Warhol and Basquiat called out as inspiration. I saw parts of Nike boxes, ripped shopping bags, comic strips, and every color of the crayon box in an array of applications. I was taken back to my teens even further with the wall of decks hung in the adjacent room.

With 2 major solo shows under its belt, I look forward to what is up next at The Compound.

Always happy to see the red dot at a gallery show, (SOLD!)


Last year, Nicole Gordon & I visited the studio of Bisco Smith for an interview, and intimate tour of his workspace. Another visual artist completely inspired by the beats that were in our blood at a young age. We have teamed up again to continue diving into what makes the art world move today, and have come across King Saladeen's work in a very unique space.

Stay tuned to Sold Magazine for more on this Philly artist!

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