Hip hop, as we have come to hold it in high regard, was built on that all-important survival tool: fantasy. The ability to sit in your box-sized ghetto backyard and indulge in imaginings of sharing tables with kings. The ability to see no impossibilities even as your situation looks iffy. Hip hop itself has always been about self-fulfilling prophecies.
When Zimbabwean digital artist Nyasha ‘Hulio Warambwa told us in an interview that he has had a very good startup as a novice artist and that he only intended ‘to get bigger and better in the coming years’ after only a few hits, it sounded like yet another grandiose utterance, claiming things that are, not as they were. Now with his unrivalled signature work fast becoming a cultural sensation away from home, it’s hard to dismiss the obvious fact that it was necessary for him to first see himself as a world creator before it was even possible or believable. At only 19 years old, he has shown us that you can create great work from whichever part of the world and make waves. A creator of note now albeit elusive, his influence is far-reaching and there is no shortage of people eulogizing him. Revolt TV has shouted his ‘accuracy’. XXL, Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, Drake, and many celebrities have shared his different pieces to great engagements.
In the wake of the death of Earl ‘DMX’ Simmons last month, Hulio paid his tribute to the deceased legendary rapper, along with Kobe Bryant, Nipsey Hussle, Aaliyah, Chadwick Boseman and 2pac with his “We will meet again” piece.
The digital objet d’art was so widely shared that it catapulted itself to a huge billboard in Times Square, a major commercial intersection, tourist destination, entertainment centre, and neighbourhood in the Midtown Manhattan section of New York City. The brightly lit billboard (and advertisement) captioned “Check Out HULIODRAWS” was powered by Billboard Baby, Masters Of The Roads & All Fam Entertainment.
For someone with just but a year of practice, Hulio couldn’t contain the creative titillation of being shouted in a major centre of the world’s entertainment industry and one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions. He posted:
“Literally Started drawing a year ago…Today I’m on a billboard in TIME SQUARE NEW YORK [emojis of surprise, disbelief and love] Zim to the world,” adding the Zimbabwean flag.
If you missed our interview with Hulio in December 2020, read it here.