Last December when NAS released his ‘Hip Hop is Dead’ album I wanted to blog about it. But at the time I didn’t really have any other cultural location to point to, and I didn’t want to do a review.

I wanted to say that it’s one of the best albums in recent years that is well-produced and attempts to critically examine contemporary shifts in hip-hop culture and the industry-mechanism it has become. A little nostalgic at times but more moments than not where one was invigorated with the message. Then at one point he makes an analysis of bling culture but recognizes that as with most cultural paradigms, someone else is still in control:

How they sell blacks to bootleg shit infact
Real millionaires spend 60 mil on paintings

(from ‘Not Going Back’ featuring Kelis)

Ah! Contemporary Art I thought! Sure 60 mil happens here and there, but how often does that really happen I wondered. How bloated is our art economy? Several months later, that is, May 2007, I would find my answer. The auctions that I recently briefly commented on would set new records for contemporary art and combine for a near-$1billion total, at $870,609,080, between 1,510 lots of work, or $660,000 per lot, about as much money as I’ll probably make in the next 20-30 years of my life, nevermind living expenses (you know, shelter, food, transport… food).

see below

Sale Totals
Sotheby’s, 15 -16 May
Contemporary Art Evening:
$ 254,874,000
Contemporary Art Day: $ 89,698,000
Total: $ 344,572,000
Christie’s, 16 – 17 May
Contemporary Art Evening:
$ 384,654,400
Contemporary Art Day: $ 93,097,200
Total: $ 477,751,600
Phillips de Pury,
17 -18 May

Contemporary Art Part I:
$ 33,326,400
Contemporary Art Part II: $ 14,959,080
Total: $ 48,285,480
Grand Total $ 870,609,080
Average Sold Lot Value
(Sotheby’s, Christie’s & Phillips de Pury)
$ 660,553
Number of Lots Offered/Sold
(Sotheby’s, Christie’s & Phillips de Pury)
(87% sold)

fueled by:

Top Ten Lots
Contemporary Art
Mark Rothko, White Center (Yellow, Pink, and Lavender on Rose) $ 72,840,000
Andy Warhol, Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I) $ 71,720,000
Francis Bacon, Study after Pope Innocent X $ 52,680,000
Andy Warhol, Lemon Marilyn $ 28,040,000
Mark Rothko, Untitled $ 26,920,000
Mark Rothko, Untitled $ 22,440,000
Willem de Kooning, Untitled I $ 19,080,000
Jasper Johns, Figure 4 $ 17,400,000
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled $ 14,600,000
Robert Rauschenberg, Photograph $ 10,680,000

Do you reckon Nas reads ArtReview‘s annual top 100 issue?

[Via Art News Blog]

Related websites:
listen to Nas mp3
Nas ‘Not Going Back’ lyrics