Photos by Durty Harry
The term ‘renaissance man’ has been misattributed to a variety of musicians that fancy themselves fashion designers, painters or even writers. However, when it comes to MeLo-X, the Brooklyn-based artist has earned the right to be regarded as just that – a renaissance man. While many are familiar with his music, MeLo-X is also involved in art, fashion and photography. Looking at the various mediums he manipulates to express his creativity, it seems the best way to describe MeLo-X is simply as a creator.
I headed out to the Sean Kelly Gallery in Midtown Manhattan to link up with MeLo and get a firsthand look at his latest project, “A Movement in Africa.” The exhibit, sponsored by Visual Supply Co (VSCO), showcases a collection of photography from his trip to Equatorial Guinea – one of the wealthiest Sub-Saharan countries in Africa (although the wealth is unevenly distributed, highlighting the disparity in living conditions for each class). The photos, captured on 35mm film, exude a feeling of wonderment mixed with humility, as MeLo journeys through Africa for the first time with his friends.
Mass Appeal: How did the collab with VSCO come about?
MeLo-X: Well, they actually collabed with Josh from Street Etiquette, on their project “Slumflower,” so that’s how we met. They were big fans of my music and the stuff I do, so they did an interview piece on me for their website. Since then, they were kinda like, ‘Whatever projects you have let us know.’ They just like to support upcoming artists, shit that they believe in. So I pitched them this idea I had that I’ve been sitting on for the past two years.
MA: How did the trip come about?
MeLo: The trip was actually through this organization called Passport Life. It’s an initiative to get young kids passports so they can travel. The dude who runs it is actually friends with all of us. He got a chance to take part in this summit and they asked him to bring some people to perform, and he brought all of us.
MA: Was it your first time in Africa?
MeLo: Yes, it was my first time. It was all of our first times.
MA: What was that experience like?
MeLo: It was crazy. I guess they’re the only country that speaks Spanish [in Africa]. One of my friends growing up spoke Spanish, so I was able to talk a little bit.
MA: Would you mind showing us your favorite photo?
MeLo: Man, I can’t pick favorites [Laughs]. I mean this one, not a favorite because I love all of them, but this one, to me, captures a moment. This was a small island off the coast of a beach.
MA: Who’s the woman in the photograph?
MeLo: That’s Mara Hruby, she’s a jazz singer.
MA: How did you two connect?
MeLo: We did a project in 2010 called Sartorial Sounds, which was a Street Etiquette editorial and was a blend of art, music, and style.
MA: What’s the title of the photograph?
MeLo: “Humble in the Jungle.”
MA: I like that…
MeLo: It looks like she’s in the corner of a boxing ring. She is a very humble individual; the whole trip was a humbling moment. The more you travel the more you see how small your existence is, but also how much more you can explore. Being there with everybody was definitely a very humbling feeling.
Stop by the Sean Kelly Gallery in New York City to witness MeLo-X’s “A Movement in Africa” firsthand, on display until March 22. And be on the look out for a limited edition book from MeLo and Rog Walker with the full collection of photos from his trip.