Rammellzee was a visual artist, gothic futurist “graffiti writer”, painter, performance artist, art theoretician, sculptor and a hip hop musician from New York City, who has been cited as “instrumental in introducing elements of the avant-garde into hip-hop culture”.
In 1983, Rammellzee and a rapper named K-Rob went to visit the painter Jean-Michel Basquiat. Though Ramm and Basquiat were friends, they were also rivals. Ramm would later say that Basquiat wasn’t a “dream artist”—he didn’t so much radiate visions outward as take things in like a “sponge,” learning about genius from books.
That night, Basquiat invited Ramm and K-Rob to record a song he’d written. Ramm, who had rapped in the movie “Wild Style,” was already known for his unique nasal sneer. (He called it his “gangster duck” style.) The two men looked at Basquiat’s elementary rhymes, laughed, and tossed them in the trash. Instead, they made up their own lyrics—a brilliant, surreal tale of a kid
(the earnest, bemused K-Rob) who’s on his way home and a hectoring pimp (Ramm) who tries to tempt him toward the dark side. Basquiat called the song “Beat Bop,” and paid for it to be produced; he painted the vinyl single’s cover art himself.