During the early '90s, at the height of the grunge era, nobody would have predicted that Kurt Cobain would end up being an icon to the hip-hop community. The genrefication of music was so intense back then that even when a band attempted to blend styles a little they were treated as nothing more than a novelty. Take Body Count, for example. These days, things are much different. Musicians as expected to be influenced by all different genres of music. In the '90s it would have been pretty weird to see a rapper like Post Malone do an entire set of Nirvana covers, today it barely made headlines.
Rapper Kid Cudi, like so many of his generation, came of age in a world where Nirvana was the biggest band on the planet. On Monday, he showed just how heavily Cobain had influenced him when he went to Dr. Woo and got a portrait of the late musician.
The tattoo, like much of what Dr. Woo does, is simply beautiful. There is a delicacy to his tattooing, a softness, that is fitting for memorial portraits like this. But what really makes this piece stand out from others is the attention to detail—the dimple in Cobain's chin, the way his shirt sits open atop his cardigan, the K Records logo (which Cobain had tattooed on his arm) just below the portrait. The amount of thought and love that went into the art is evident throughout these touches.
In case you didn't pick up on it, this tattoo is actually two tributes in one, as there is a subtle tribute to singer/songwriter Daniel Johnston. On Cobain's shirt, you can see the iconic painting by Johnston, "Hi, How Are You?" The goofy little alien became a mascot for Johnston, who passed away last year.
Kid Cudi and Dr. Woo each get an A+ for this introspective portrait. But it does bring a question to our minds—what would Cobain think about it?
If he were still with us, one has to wonder how Cobain would have felt about seeing his own face staring back at him in the form of a tattoo, particularly one as striking as this one by Dr. Woo. Fame was never easy for him, especially during the period while "Nevermind" was blowing up. Seeing his face plastered all over the tabloids and rock magazines was enough to make Cobain want to become a recluse, fueling his heroin addiction. A tattoo is way different from a magazine cover for one major reason—it's permanent. As an artist, we know Cobain would have appreciated the skill used to create the tattoo, but something tells us he'd be a little uneasy with the subject matter.
The answer to that question, I find it hard, hard find. Oh well, whatever, nevermind.