Back at the dawn of hip-hop, heads thought nothing of dropping ten minute tracks with no clearly-defined verse/ chorus structure and such an animal was the Jean-Michel Basquiat-financed, Rammellzee and K Rob-featuring early psychedelic hip-hop epic, Beat Bop, which first appeared in 1983. Distinctive for its vocals which are periodically drenched in reverb (and for fading out mid-verse after just over ten minutes) the track quickly attained legendary status with all manner of names and claims made for it (such as its having inspired a slew of experimental hip-hop artists including Beastie Boys) resulting in its status as a hip-hop ‘Holy Grail.’
Turns out the concept for the track was originally born from a disagreement between Basquiat (then the toast of the NYC art world) and graffiti artist/ MC, Rammellzee. The idea was for the two to settle their differences via the medium of a battle-rap. In the event, Basquiat’s skills apparently didn’t extend to the art of rhyme at quite the level he felt they did and his verses were laughed out of town by Rammellzee and K Rob who ended up doing all the vocals taking on improvised roles of pimp and schoolboy and shooting the shit over a minimal funk beat all directed by Fab Five Freddy. Basquiat nevertheless stumped up the benjamins for the project and insisted on being credited for sole production despite Rammellzee’s contention that Basquiat’s only role was a financial one – though Basquiat did also turn in the artwork.
If any label were to release such a beast, it would have to be deluxe re-issue label Get On Down and, indeed, this is precisely what they are doing, correctly, on 12 inch vinyl. Should you be short of $1500 to cop yourself an original pressing, you may want to avail yourself of a copy of this.
(Out 22 June on Get On Down)