Bronx-born Swizz Beatz caught some heat from his borough last week after critics slammed the rapper’s four-day “No Commission Art Fair” – which claims to “bring contemporary art and music back to the Bronx” – for including just one local artist and no Latinos in its curation. At a time when South Bronx residents have been protesting their neighborhood’s rapid gentrification, many were quick to compare Swizz’s fair to last October’s highly criticized “Macabre Suite” event.
“This four-day event is nothing but using the Bronx for turning a quick buck but not investing in our borough’s people,” wrote Welcome 2 The Bronx in a blog post. “How dare you come into our home and disrespect us.”
But after the backlash, it looks like Swizz reached out to Ed García Conde, the founder of Welcome 2 The Bronx, and got together to hash things out over a two hour meeting. Conde pointed out the concerns of the community, particularly the fact that this celebration of Bronx art was to be held “on ground zero for gentrification” – a Keith Rubenstein property in the South Bronx.
But as the conversation continued, Conde began to understand why certain decisions were made for the art fair. Initially “No Commision” was to be held in Brooklyn, until Swizz Beatz argued that it should be held in his home borough. “I wanted to bring something special for the people of The Bronx which is why the event is free, something that anyone can enjoy and have asked for,” said Swizz Beatz.
Now, both Conde and Swizz Beatz will soon be collaborating on a local art event that is more inclusive and mindful of the Bronx community. The artists behind the “No Commission / NO Bronx Artists” Anti-Party have also decided to make the evening more of a celebration of Bronx art. “Gotta say that it’s pretty dope that he’s been so accessible to personally speak with folks, including artists, who weren’t happy with the event and the fact that we were able to agree to collaborate on a future event for Bronx artists just further shows he’s not just talking the talk but walking the walk. Several artists walked away with a better understanding and appeared satisfied.” wrote Conde.