Hear the Jean-Michel Basquiat backed hip-hop classic “Beat Bop”

The legendary artist died 26 years ago today. Listen to a huge experimental tune he funded and (possibly) produced.

- Aug 12, 2014

Jean-Michel Basquiat died of a drug overdose in New York City on this day 26 years ago, and his visual art would influence hip-hop and be directly referenced for years to come. But he also left behind "Beat Bop," a track he made in 1983 with New York rappers K-Rob and Rammellzee and a truly explosive track in the nascent genre.

A ten minute track split between K-Rob's "The Message"-styled social messagery and Rammellzee's free-association gangbanging (part of a character he called "gangster duck"), both rappers match the energy of the production. Disco-chic guitars, a barely-in time bongo and metallic jangle punctuating seemingly random intervals made the sound was a new and exciting template (a line from the song would be sampled by the Beastie Boys on their album Ill Communication). However, whether or not it's actually Basquiat on the boards is a matter of debate.

The song was only released as a test pressing edition of 500 on Basquiat's label Tartown. Thanks to his cover design, copies of the record are now sought after by art collectors as well as hip-hop heads. If you've got a spare few thousand, treat yourself.

Noz wrote a comprehensive oral history of the track with the song's performers (including Rammellzee, who passed away in 2010) and some old school hip-hop scenesters. You should read it.
Beat Bop - Rammellzee + K-Rob

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