There’s knowing that New York produces a lot of music. And then there’s seeing it.
The New York Music Map attempts to account for all of the city’s famed music-makers—some very recent, some legendary; some native New Yorkers, some adopted. Both a graphic print and an interactive online platform, the map plots around 450 artists’ names within the confines of four New York City boroughs—excluding Staten Island—and a tiny sliver of New Jersey.
“There are always new stories the city has to tell,” says Nick Griffiths, the director of the London-based creative communications company Kingdom Collective, who curated the project. The map, he tells CityLab, is “a new way at looking at them.”
A collaboration between Griffiths, the music writer Frank Broughton, and the illustrator Adam Hayes, the map—which took Hayes over 30 hours to draw—tries to locate each artist in a section of New York that corresponds most closely to their biography.
But as Griffiths points out, many of the featured artists left their mark on more than one part of the city. Lady Gaga grew up on the Upper West Side and went to high school on the Upper East; her spot on the map falls between the two.
Others lost out to a real estate battle. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs formed at New York University in Greenwich Village, but while working on the map, Griffiths was confronted with concentration of talent in downtown Manhattan. “There’s only so much room,” he says. Griffiths relocated the group to outer Queens.
Yet there are some geographical Easter eggs: The Notorious B.I.G. dominates Beford-Stuyvesant, and Griffith’s personal favorite is the designation of the Williamsburg Bridge as Jay Z, often rumored to have taken his name from the J and Z train lines that traverse it.
In compiling the New York-themed song lyrics and biographical information for the interactive map, Broughton revived the musical education he received during his time in New York in the nineties, when he sold hot dogs at the Coney Island reggae festival and drove around the Bronx with Kool Herc as the DJ pointed out all the clubs he used to play in.
A print of the map retails for around $120, and while Griffiths admits the project has likely omitted some artists, it leaves open the possibility for correction: the creators encourage visitors to tweet any names they may have forgotten.