You could spend your office Monday fresh from the holiday getting some work done. Or you could load this .mp3 onto your iPod and sit in your cube rapping over the beat of one of the most infamous cuts of all time.
This instrumental take of the Jean-Michel Basquiat-produced rap single “Beat Bop,” featuring the MC skills of Rammellzee, caught our ear over the last couple days. This clip comes off the amazing compilation Happy New Ear, a collection of recordings by artists mainly working in the visual field, and with a title borrowed from John Cage.
The storied original song came together over a whole butcher shop’s worth of beef that Rammellzee had with Basquiat, insisting the neo-expressionist master couldn’t do any of what the infamous graffiti artist could. That came down to rapping, so they arranged a battle. But when Rammellzee and K-Rob heard what Basquiat was going to rap, they kicked him off the track.
Basquiat is known for his work in the noise band called Gray, but his work as a producer is largely limited to this one cut—it’s said he merely paid for the studio time, though most of the instruments on the track were played by Al Diaz, who was a friend of the painter.
Here’s a video of Rammellzee and Toxic C1 performing the cut in 1983, interspersed with Basquiat’s artwork: