Archive for the Rammellzee Category

RAMMELLZEE Rappin’ into the Mic. (words)

Posted in Hip Hop Archives, Hip Hop Icon, Rammellzee on May 25, 2011 by Listen Recovery

When you’re MCing for breakers, it’s important to know the moves and pay attention to the dancers.  When your rapping, you cannot start slipping because the breaker might slip as well and break their bones.  The MC in this case is not only the master of cermony, but also a mic controller and has power over the dancers with his voice.  You watch the dancers and try to figure out what they are up to.  You might, for example, recognized that one of your bboys is prepering to do a monkey.  Then you would get ready to rhyme about the monkey and it would happen at the same time.

RAMMELLZEE

from Martha Coopers Hip-Hop Files 79-84

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RAMMELLZEE & K-ROB in Japan. (rare photo by Listen Recovery archives)

Posted in Hip Hop Archives, Hip Hop Icon, photography, Rammellzee, Rare on February 27, 2011 by Listen Recovery

RAMMELLZEE & K-ROB in Japan (80’s)

Rammellzee in Japan (circa ?)

RAMMELLZEE (RAMMΣLLZΣΣ, pronounced “Ram: Ell: Zee”) short bio by Rachel Lyon.

Posted in Hip Hop Archives, Hip Hop Icon, Rammellzee on February 26, 2011 by Listen Recovery

RAMMΣLLZΣΣ, pronounced Ram: Ell: Zee

Always ahead of his time, New York artist and performer Rammellzee (born in 1960 in Queens, New York) is credited with being one of the inventors of graffiti art as we know it. Through writing, drawing and painting on subway cars in spray paint and felt-tip pen in the late ‘70s, he became interested in the symbolic value of letters, seeing for example the letter “A” as a pyramid or taking “W” to mean “double-you.” He has continued to explore these ideas through a variety of media ever since, from the paintings that in 1988 Gerrit Henry described in Art In America as having “a Star-Wars-via-Jackson-Pollock look” to the legendary hip-hop single “Beat Bop” that was produced by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and became not just one of the most collectible hip hop releases ever, but a model for generations of witty and experimental musicians after him.

In the mid-80’s, Rammellzee became associated with a group of artists who painted or tagged in a style known as East Village wild style. This was an illegible, dynamic style of writing letters derived originally from the Gothic script of Medieval manuscripts. In 1982, he appeared in the seminal hip hop documentary Wildstyle by Charlie Ahearn. Rammellzee named his style “Gothic Futurism,” describing the battle between letters and their symbolic warfare against any standardizations enforced by the rules of the alphabet. When his style of writing became more mainstream in the world of graffiti, Rammellzee built his letters into flying armored vehicles, bursting forth with a style and philosophy all his own that he termed “Ikonoclast Panzerism.” Jan van Adrichem and Marjin van Nieuwenhuyzen wrote in the catalog for his 1986 retrospective that, as in the biblical story of the city of Babel, in Rammellzee’s system “people do not use language, language uses people; it has become an autonomous force.”

Rammellzee has shown in galleries throughout New York City and Europe. His work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He performs in self-designed masks and costumes of different characters of his own creation. Most recently, he has returned to the world of music, releasing an album in 2004 called The Bi-Conicals of the Rammellzee, for which he’s performed shows in the U.S. and Japan. He also designs clothes for the New York City skate company Supreme.

Rachel Lyon


BEAT BOP, Rammellzee and K-Rob, originally released in 1983 by record label Tartown, cover artwork & produce by Jean-Michel Basquiad

Posted in Basquiat, Hip Hop Archives, Hip Hop Icon, LP Covers, Rammellzee on February 10, 2011 by Listen Recovery

DOWNLOAD SINGLE LP

“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”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.

Rammellzee 1988

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.

COVER ART:


Designed solely by Jean-Michel Basquiat, the front and back covers of the record are typical of his style, featuring a graffiti-influenced, chaotic clash of imagery and text. In contrast to his colourful canvas work, however, they are drawn in black and white. The front cover includes rough sketches of bones, what appears to be a crown, an explosion (and within it, the word “bang!” in capital letters), and Roman numerals. The record labels are in the same style, even going as far as originally not mentioning the artists involved in its production or the name of the track. Due to Basquiat’s fame, original copies exchange hands for over four figures. Curiously, the cover spells Rammellzee’s name incorrectly, using only one L instead of two, a fact that still irks Rammellzee. The single was repressed in 2001 by Tartown Records, the label that initially released it, with its original cover art retained.

Jean-Michel Basquiat with Rammellzee, photo by Stephen Torton

Posted in Basquiat, Hip Hop Icon, photography, Rammellzee on February 3, 2011 by Listen Recovery

Jean-Michel Basquiat, right, with Rammellzee, the hip-hop legend and graffiti artist, who died in June 2010.

Photo: Stephen Torton

these photos are copyrighted, and must not be reproduced. They were taken by me in 1982, in Los Angeles .Thank you , Stephen Torton.