Rammelzee Vs. K-Rob
''Beat Bop'' 12''
Label: Profile Records PRO-7030
Format: Vinyl, 12", 33 1/3 RPM
A Beat Bop 10:10
B Beat Bop (Instrumental) 9:34
Producer, Arranged By – Jean Michel Basquiat
Written-By – K-Rob, Rammelzee
Published by Protoons, Inc. ASCAP.
(P) 1983 Profile Records Inc.
(C) 1981 Profile Records Inc.
THE RAMMELLZEE is a NYC – Icon. Something like the “Godfather of street art”! Known as one of the originators and still leading figure of contemporary underground art, street culture, Graffiti and Electro/ Hip Hop (his BEAT BOP single with Jean Michel Basquiat and K – Rob is one of the most important original rap tracks ever – reissued this year on MoWax and Soul Jazz). He was featured in all important Hip Hop films of the 80ies (“Wildstyle”…) and worked with people like Fab 5 Freddie, Michael Holman, Futura 2000, Phase 2 and was (with his partner Basquiat) one of the first graffiti artists accepted by the “official” art world. Over the last few years he got quite a heavy reputation – especially in Japan and in the US street art scene – for developing his own special universe („Gothic Futurism“). It consists of big human size fantasy muppets (walk-ins), the LETTERRACERS (figurative skateboards) and also the original collage paintings he had invented back in the 80ies. But this is not a comeback! The Rammellzee has been already doing lots of new stuff recently including styling NYC’s SUPREME skate/ fashion company’s shops worldwide in 2003, doing new exibitions and performing several concerts in Japan with (Japan’s Nr. 1 Hip Hop – DJ) DJ Kensei and NYC’s Death Comet Crew. Japnese leading mag RELAX and UK’s DAZED & CONFUSED recently came out with some big (cover) storys about him.
“Beat Bop” is a hip hop single by American rappers Rammellzee and K-Rob, originally released in 1983 by record label Tartown. Initially distributed merely as a test pressing, it is notable for being the theme of hip hop culture documentary film Style Wars and having a cover designed by famed New York graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The result of a disagreement between Rammellzee and Basquiat, the track has been cited as having an influence on artists such as Beastie Boys and many modern experimental hip hop artists due to its chaotic, abstract sound, and, due to the rarity of its original pressing, has been called the Holy Grail of rap records.
The track was initially intended as a battle rap between Rammellzee and Basquiat, following heated arguments between the two. Rammellzee, an influential graffiti artist himself, accused Basquiat of being a fraud. In turn, Basquiat claimed he could out-rap, out-dance, and out-paint anybody. The duo eventually settled on “Beat Bop” acting as an outlet for this tension. In 1983, with strong links to Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat was the toast of the New York art world (Rammellzee, on the other hand, describes himself as being an “up-and-coming con artist”). Basquiat therefore agreed to pay for the entirety of the single’s recording, pressing and eventual release. Despite this, both Rammellzee and K-Rob had the power to overrule Basquiat on the record’s content:
“He wanted (to) say his own verses… me and K-Rob read them and started laughing, and we crushed up his paper with the words he had written down and we threw it back at him face first.”
The result was a ten minute track featuring Rammellzee and K-Rob on vocals, under the direction of Fab Five Freddy, its production credited to Basquiat only (despite Rammellzee insisting that Basquiat did nothing but foot the bill). Speaking in 2008, Rammellzee reflected on the relaxed nature of the recording session by saying “we were just having fun”. The record was eventually released in 1983, limited to 500 copies and sporting custom art by Basquiat. Due to this rarity and the fame of Basquiat, “Beat Bop has been called the Holy Grail of rap records. It has also been distributed by Profile Records, in 1983 and later in 2001.
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