Meet A.Mulli, Rap's 8-Bit Portraitist: "Taking Famous Rappers Into the Pixel World"
The Bawse Rick Ross, rendered in 8-bit, eating healthy and drinking fancy.
Art by A. Mulli/instagram.com/amulliart
It's gonna be a
movie Nintendo game.
Famous rappers love to boast about their x-rated, violence-addled, billion-dollar blockbuster lives, as if every day were a supersexy summer action epic.
But rather than the Hollywood treatment... Maybe their flashy, larger-than-life, often ridiculous celebrity existences might be more adequately captured via candy-colored 8-bit portraiture?
A.Mulli seems to think so. Over the last two months, he's "pixeled," as he says, about 150 of rap and pop culture's most outlandish characters, from Miami's own Ricky Rozay to the fabulously cartoonish Kanye West and the only man on Earth with an ice-cream cone tattooed on his face, Gucci Mane.
See also: Five Signs You Might Be a Shitty Rapper
Born Adam Mulligan, this 23-year-old artist who (despite rhyming, "I was born in Manchester, UK, where I still live to this day!") is not a rapper. But he does admit, 'Who doesn't want that lifestyle!"
So no, he didn't earn his alias on a mic. He got it during a hangout sesh with his homies.
"It came about when I was out turning up to the famous Lil Wayne track 'A Milli,' which somehow turned into us chanting, 'A.Mulli, A.Mulli, A.Mulli,' and it just kinda stuck," he laughs.
Unlike the moniker, though, his admiration for the 8-bit aesthetic is decades old.
"I had a love for games growing up, and I've always admired that nostalgic look of the old arcade titles like Super Mario and Street Fighter," Mulligan explains. "But I only started experimenting with it around New Year 2015."
His original piece was a portrait of North London grime star Skepta.
"He's a massive culture icon here in the UK," A.Mulli says. "He was the first person I gave the 8-bit treatment and he praised the art I did for him. It was what really motivated me to develop the style."
And soon, Mulligan was also "pixeling" America's most
wanted famous, including Rozay, Kanye, Gucci, the late Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Outkast, Pharrell and his hat, Drake and his pet owl, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Tyler the Creator, and Lil B the Based God.
He's even "pixeled" Kim Kardashian's naked butt.
See also: Rap's Ten Best Songs About Big Butts
Easily, though, A.Mulli's most "pixeled" subject is Kim K.'s hubby.
While most rappers get a portrait or perhaps two, there are ten Yeezies.
"Kanye West is one of those eccentric and massively creative people who I just couldn't sum up in one avatar," Mulligan explains. "People were requesting for me to pixel him, but I just couldn't decide how to portray him effectively.
"Then I had this brainwave of doing a timeline of some of his iconic styles over the course of his career," he recalls. "I threw all the Kanyes together on one sheet and named it 'Yevolution,' the evolution of Ye!"
As for "pixeling" the Bawse Rick Ross, A.Mulli says: "He's one of the power names in modern hip-hop culture, a very iconic and charismatic dude. I just had to give him the 8-bit treatment! He reps some pretty majestic clothing too. It was cool to see how I could translate that into the pixel world. And of course, I had to throw in his iconic pear reference!"
Ultimately, it's this task of capturing complex and crazy show-biz personalities "using a very limited amount of colored dots" that keeps Mulligan stuck to his pixellation station.
"It may come across as simple art, but it's harder than it looks," he stresses. "There are no curved edges, for example, you have to use your mind and get creative with the pixels to achieve what you want. It's kind of like building a Lego model."
And lest you think he's taking the piss, as the Brits say, A.Milli insists he isn't ridiculing Rozay, Kanye, Gucci, or even Kardashian's ass.
"Not at all," the 8-bit portraitist says. "It's just me reimagining icons as these fun miniature blocky characters. I don't think anyone thinks I'm taking the piss, really."
In fact, Mulligan actually counts a few famous rappers among his fans.
"Everyone my art has reached, from Action Bronson to Wiz Khalifa, Chris Brown, Mac Miller, Curren$y, Chance the Rapper, and more have loved my work," he points out. "So I guess it is a little tribute."
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