Shedding Skin is the third studio album from London’s Obaro Ejimiwe, aka Ghostpoet. For anyone unfamiliar with his output we’d recommend going back and acquainting yourselves with everything he’s done since 2011’s Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam, arguably one of the most exciting albums of British hip hop to emerge in the past decade.
His sophomore effort, Some Say I So I Say Light was intensely personal in tone, dealing predominantly with the breakdown of a long-term relationship. As a result his third effort serves as something of a rebirth, and an opportunity to refocus his energies on less painful subject matter.
“The album is kind of a letting go of sorts,” he says. “A letting go of the past and just living. The shedding skin came about from the idea of shedding the past, shedding things that may be holding you down or holding you back.”
For the album cover Obaro was keen to reflect the musical content directly, collaborating with researchers at UCL to utilise a skin biopsy as its key visual element. “We came across skin cell biopsies, and at home I’ve got a projector and projected these biopsies onto a black piece of vinyl to see what it would look like… and it looked amazing! I thought it would be interesting to try and get my own skin cells and use that for the artwork.
“The skin biopsy was the first stage to creating the artwork. It was the moment when I thought OK this is real. It was a proper procedure. It wasn’t overly intrusive – it didn’t hurt or anything – it’s just a case of sterilising a part of my arm and cutting out a chunk of skin.
“About two weeks later we converged at the Institute of Neurology to look at the stains and the actual skin that had been processed. They were stained in particular colours; a purple, minty green, blue and a pinky colour. They looked amazing – they just looked like paintings. I was really blown away by all the detail. What we created was me!”
He’s not wrong. The results of this surgical collaboration are impressive; uniquely tinted microscopic cell structures serving as the artwork for each of the record’s singles, finished with striking neon typography on the album itself.
The extraction of body part might not be new in the art world, but it’s a pretty committed step for a musician to make for their latest released. Obaro seems unphased though. “I’m very much of the mind of trying to be as hands-on as possible, because I look at it as another avenue to be creative. I think it’s very important to get your feelings out in some shape or form, be it the music or the artwork.”
Probably not one to try at home though kids!
Art + Music
This month we will be looking at the infinite, somewhat holy connection between art and music in all its different genres. Spanning an enormous amount of ways music and art come together, this feature will take a closer look at stage design, record sleeves, music videos, zines, rock star painters, band merchandise, music at fashion shows and much, much more. Now put your hands together for Art + Music.
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