The Godfather of Harlem main title is an homage to the contemporaneous collages created by African-American artist, Romare Bearden (1911–1988), during 1960s Harlem
He is best known for his photomontage compositions made from torn images of popular magazines and assembled into visually powerful statements on African-American life. We felt his art was appropriate to the show because it shared themes and portrayals of social inequality and the African-American experience that the show similarly explores.
The main title INTENTIONALLY reflects many of the techniques, aesthetics, and themes of Romare Bearden, and is a purposeful design for the opening credits of the series not meant to stand separately from its cinematic purpose. The true artist was Romare Bearden, and I was only an instrument. Yet, much like how the show adds hip hop and other modern flairs that are anachronistic to the time period portrayed in the show, our main title also utilizes modern artistic principles for better readability by a modern audience. The complexities of Romare’s collages, while appealing in its spellbinding intricacies, could prevent legibility of the credits or wouldn’t read as well when only shown for a brief moment within the fast-paced main title. Therefore, many of our Romare-inspired designs were simplified or redesigned in form and composition, from which similarities with modern and contemporary collages may have appeared in places. It is my hope that interest in the show and the main title will lead to a larger audience becoming newly aware of the artwork of Romare Bearden and other African-American artists.
Swizz Beatz track “Just in Case,” featuring Rick Ross and DMX