Just three miles from where a young Shawn Carter was raised, some of the most quotable (and G-rated) lyrics of the famed rapper and producer now known as Jay-Z can be found covering the full front facade of one of Brooklyn’s most quintessential buildings: the Central Library.
The Central Library’s word-wrapped frontage will stay up through October as part of a Jay-Z tribute exhibition entitled Book of HOV hosted by Brooklyn Public Library and produced by Carter’s multi-armed entertainment company Roc Nation along with a large roster of creative partners. Book of HOV—a variation of Carter’s nickname of J-Hova, itself a play on Jehovah, an Old Testament word for God— is described in a Roc Nation press release as an exhibit that pays homage to “Carter's global impact as a musician, entrepreneur, philanthropist and disruptor” while celebrating “both his hometown of Brooklyn and the broader hip-hop community across the world.” (Carter was left in the dark about plans for the show up until its July 14 private opening, which he attended with wife Beyoncé and their daughter Blue Ivy.)
Objects and artifacts including musical instrucments on display as part of the sprawling, six-"chapter" exhbition. Photo by Gregg Richards, courtesy BPL
The Jay-Z-ified main lobby of Brooklyn Public Library's landmark central branch. Photo by Gregg Richards, courtesy BPL
Beyond the facade installation and a large LED video cube installed on the library’s front steps facing Grand Army Plaza at Eastern Parkway, Book of HOV is staged in eight thematic sections throughout the interior of the four-story, limestone-clad 1941 Art Deco book repository designed by Alfred Morton Githens and Francis Keally with a fan-shaped plan, which viewed from the air resembles an open book. The landmark building’s ground floor—including its newly Toshiko Mori–refreshed grand lobby and atrium, youth wing, and new Information Commons—serves as backdrop for much of the immersive, 40,000-square-foot exhibition that showcases an expansive trove of Jay-Z-related artifacts and ephemera: towering imagery of the man himself, biographical displays, art including a sculpture by Daniel Arsham, a full-scale replica of Manhattan’s famed Baseline Studios, and more. The exhibit continues upstairs on the Central Library’s second level with Book of HOV’s concluding section, How Did That.
The Jay-Z exhibition is free and open to the public, including to those without library cards. Photo by Gregg Richards, courtesy BPL
Photo by Gregg Richards, courtesy BPL
In addition to card-carrying Brooklyn Public Library patrons, those without a library card can visit the central branch to view the free exhibit during normal operating hours. And if inclined, the Jay-Z faithful can join one of the largest public library systems in the U.S. by applying for one of 13 limited-edition library cards featuring artwork from classic Jay-Z albums such as The Blueprint, The Black Album, and 4:44. The library cards, also available as digital versions, are now available at the Central and Marcy Libraries and will be rolled out at additional branch locations later this summer.