Beat Bop: Red Bull Arts New York to Mount Extensive Rammellzee Survey

Rammellzee in 2002. KEETJA ALLARD

Red Bull Arts New York will stage the largest survey to date of work by the late artist and hip-hop iconoclast Rammellzee. Titled “RAMMΣLLZΣΣ: Racing for Thunder,” the exhibition will run from May 4 to August 26.

The show will fill Red Bull’s entire Chelsea space with everything from archival works and oral histories to selections from the influential artist’s 1980s output. There will also be pieces made at Rammellzee’s Tribeca loft, The Battle Station, and early graffiti-inspired works.

Rammellzee, who passed away in 2010, is a hard artist to summarize. That said, his varied body of work makes an important contribution to a larger continuum of 20th century Afrofuturist art and music. In certain circles, he is perhaps best known for the song “Beat Bop,” which was made in collaboration with the rapper K-Rob and produced by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The 12-inch single, which Basquiat contributed cover art to, and which for many years only existed in test-press form, is considered by many to be the most valuable hip-hop record of all time. It is also a singular art-rap masterpiece that has influenced everyone from the Beastie Boys (directly) to Lil B (spiritually). Have a listen below.

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