Late rapper Heavy D, will be getting a tribute in his hometown of Mount Vernon, New York.
The Jamaica-born rapper, whose given name was Dwight Errington Myers, grew up in the inner suburb of NY, will receive a sculpture in his honor, ten years after his passing in 2011 at the age 44. The art piece, to be called "Peaceful Journey,” after the title of a Heavy D song, is being created by New York artist Eto Otitigbe to be placed in the Fleetwood neighborhood of the city.
Otitigbe, is a polymedia artist whose works which reference race, power and technology, have been exhibited nationally and internationally for over 15 years. Otitigbe expressed that Heavy D’s played an integral role in his youth growing up in Albany, New York, describing them as transformative, saying, “the sounds coming out of Mount Vernon with Heavy D, Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth were really unique,” said Otitigbe. “I wanted to pay homage to the Mount Vernon community that had such an important place in hip-hop with this work of art.”
A bit of back story on Heavy D, he started out as the frontman of Heavy D & the Boyz, which became the first act signed to Uptown Records. Later becoming the president of the label, his influence on the music world knew no bounds.
"It was for any kind of public artwork and I chose to reference Heavy D’s music. It was through his music that I personally had a connection to Mount Vernon," he said. “This sculpture offers me a chance to pay tribute to his music and hip-hop culture, all of which had an immense influence on me as I navigated my youth.”
Eto’s artwork was one of 50 considered for the commission through an open competitive process conducted by ArtsWestchester. Working on the project for now more than a year, Otitigbe expressed, “I set out to design an artwork that played with the theme of transformation. I was thinking about movement, departures, homecomings and transitions.” Further revealing, "personally, I was experiencing a major life transition as I balanced the joys and challenges of being a new father. Hoping to have the work finished by the end of the year, Eto’s plans for its unveiling are still up in the air.
When carried out, Eto explained the stone sculpture made from Vermont marble and steel, will resemble a hive and reference pointed archways notable in South East Asian and Islamic architecture, But more than that it will also convey a sense of balance and affirmation, offering passersby the hope for a peaceful journey.