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TO MAY 8

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Faced with the exquisite photographic portraiture of hiphop’s finest in Immortal Brands’ glossy coffee-table book Hiphop Immortals, one can’t help but wonder: What magical formula for success do they have that I don’t? But gaze long enough at the photos and a unifying factor emerges: moles. Possessing these errant bits of raised flesh has been viewed as fortuitous by fortunetellers for centuries—and it appears that they were onto something. Rich, colorful shots of a pre-psychedelic Andre 3000 and Ice-T (dressed as a cop) show circular dollops of irregular skin on both men’s cheeks. Stark black-and-white close-ups of Biggie, Grandmaster Flash, and Rakim (pictured here in a photo by Christian Witkin) reveal sprinklings just below their eyes. A bare-chested photo of Eminem, spikes driven into his face à la Hellraiser, highlights a few brown spots on his arms. So how does one account for the clear-complected shot of Tupac, or the one of Jay-Z in a drop-top? Perhaps they’ve got skin tags beneath the bands of their designer drawers—out of sight, but no less lucky. The perfect smoothness of Big Daddy Kane and LL Cool J is easily explained away: They might’ve had a raised freckle or two once upon a time, but, like their careers, the blemishes simply fell off. Aspiring MCs, feel free to dismiss the theory—but just in case you decide to use a dermatological body check as a career indicator, know that pimples don’t count. Connect the dots at an exhibition of the photographs on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, to Saturday, May 8, at Govinda Gallery, 1227 34th St. NW. Free. (202) 333-1180. (Sarah Godfrey)