Durham, North Carolina – The community of North Carolina is giving J. Cole his flowers while he can smell them. On Saturday (September 26), graffiti artist JEKS took to social media to share finished photos of a mural he painted of the Dreamville rapper.
Located in Durham, 80 miles north of Cole’s Fayetteville home, JEKS’ art takes a portrait taken by photographer Jonathan Mannion and transforms it into a giant tribute.
“Another collaboration with legendary photographer @jonathanmannion of NC hiphop legend @realcoleworld for @uhillwalls in Durham NC,” JEKS wrote. “It was such an awesome few days surrounded by 40+ other artists killing it. Huge thanks to @abvagency and Xavier for running a tight ship.”
Even more fitting is the fact JEKS is also from North Carolina.
JEKS started out spray painting tags as a kid and has painted various Hip Hop artists throughout his career.
“I was introduced to graffiti in my early teens through a friend in Boy Scouts actually haha,” he told Spray Planet. “I started with skateboarding and putting up super shitty tags around Winston-Salem. As I got more educated and into the culture thanks to meeting some established writers like EVADE, SCAR, and JAT to name a few influential OGs, I started piecing and became more active and consistently painting freights and walls.”
His previous work includes Method Man, Outkast, The Notorious B.I.G. and others.
Over the weekend, an Instagram user stopped by the mural of Cole and showed off more art on display at the UHill Walls.
“It’s like an outdoor art experience,” they wrote. “It’s over 40,000 square feet full of murals paying tribute to many men and women who have influenced culture all from NC. SUPER dope!”
North Carolina Hip Hop trio Little Brother a.k.a. Phonte, Rapper Big Pooh and 9th Wonder are also featured in a painting.
Murals are a common form of tribute in Hip Hop, especially for rappers who have passed away. Nipsey Hussle, Pop Smoke and Juice WRLD are a few examples of street art being displayed across their hometowns in recent years.