A New Album as a Prelude for New Paintings

Multidisciplinary Artist Rah Crawford Paints a Neo-Pop Picture Using Sound

“The muses know that I’ll listen and do their bidding—so they keep singing,” declares Rah Crawford. For an artist, inspiration can come from anywhere. Even so, the event that sparked Rah’s latest artistic project came as a complete surprise.

After the launch of his book, Welcome to Earth, which documents his decade-spanning four-part exhibition and new approach to art, a notable revelation soon followed. Rah learned from a colleague that he was listed on the educational arts website arthistoryarchive.com, which documents artistic movements throughout history. His name was included in the Neo-Pop category list of 17 artists whose work epitomizes the movement, along with Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, and Jeff Koons.

This definitive labeling and categorization of Rah as a Neo-Pop artist was the catalyst for self-reflection. A bit resistant to labels, Rah slowly opened himself to the honor and experience, and embraced the idea and association with the word Neo-Pop. As a result, he started exploring public perceptions of the word and what it meant in context. His findings revealed that the word Pop went beyond visual art and often conjured up thoughts of music. This journey led Rah back to his creative roots—he wondered, “What would Neo-Pop sound like?”

Rah was highly active for several years in the Philadelphia music scene before having his first gallery art exhibition in 2004. The winner of the Philadelphia City Paper’s DJ competition, Rah had an after-hours residency for several months spinning as “The Bully” where he spun deep house and techno music. As the front man of the indie rock band Fuzzyhood, he played local shows with his crew and recorded a three-song EP. “Songwriting and music production has always been a part of my life. When I’m not painting, I’m making music—but once I had my first gallery art exhibition, the musical creations became less public,” states Rah.

Rah’s visual artwork often has an urban aesthetic, street-style letter forms, graphic design, and a skilled fine art touch that embraces popular culture themes. Rah’s sonic artwork has similar characteristics. His debut album, Honor Among Thieves (under the moniker Well Dressed Villains), has a futuristic pop sound that some might describe as alternative hip-hop. A true multidisciplinary artist, Rah Crawford uses a colorful palette to paint a picture of what Neo-Pop sounds like.

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