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Hip-Hop Kings on Canvas by Borbay

All paintings by Borbay

In July 2011, New York-based artist Jason Borbay predicted the future. The seven rappers he painted for his exhibit, Kings of Hip-Hop, landed on Forbes’ list of the top eight Hip-Hop Cash Kings.

Among the rappers depicted in the 30-by-30 inch collage paintings are Jay-Z, Eminem and a surprising portrait of Dr. Dre, circa-NWA. When asked why he chose to depict an “old school” Dre versus the muscular music mogul we know today, the longtime hip-hop fan replied:

“This is the Dre you want to know and remember. He’s going to take care of business and you respect him and fear him. That suits him a lot better than, ‘I can out-benchpress you and drink more muscle milk than you.’ “


Borbay takes pride in his marketing techniques. Unlike some artists who are very secretive, he exposes his artistic process. Last month at The Wix Lounge in Manhattan, he explains that he has branded himself by showing everyone his methods. This practice stems from his passion to “share everything with everyone in the world.” It also shows his confidence in his work.

“If you do something well enough, people will steal it. Put it out there.”

In the same lecture, Borbay gives other tips to achieving success. He says you should follow up with people to “a disgusting degree.” Leave no stone unturned. The 34 year-old Long Island native also discusses the importance of getting press for your work by doing your research first. It’s important to know who you will be pitching your goods/services to. What do they like and dislike? Once you have this information, Borbay says the next step is sending a detailed email to the person you’re pitching to. It should state who you are, what you’re offering and how what you do is relevant to them. Giving direct links to your work and including contact information is also a must.


Using these rules of thumb, Borbay was able to attract the attention of Forbes writer Zack O’Malley Greenburg, who publishes Forbes’ annual “Hip-Hop Cash Kings” list. Greenburg later wrote an article on Borbay and his Kings of Hip-Hop paintings, highlighting how the artist had surprisingly predicted seven of the eight Cash Kings of Hip-Hop.

Final pieces of advice include the importance of contracts.  “No matter what you do in the creative world, do not touch anything unless it’s under contract!” Networking and offering custom services is also key. Borbay, who offers both goods and services, ends his speech by stating, “If they don’t want what you already have, give them something that they need that’s like what you have.”

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