In December 1999, we visited Rammellzee at his Tribeca home/studio - an industrial loft space famously christened, the "Battle Station." Our mission: to interview the legendary emcee/graffiti writer/artist/sculptor/philosopher-theorist about the making of "Beat Bop" - his classic 1983 collaborative single with fellow writer/emcee K-Rob and the song's producer, street art icon, Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Given its participants, "Beat Bop" is a recording with mystique virtually encoded in its DNA. Highly collectable in its elusive original Tartown Records' incarnation thanks to Basquiat's unmistakable work on its picture sleeve, the 10-minute masterpiece's trippy, reverb-bathed post-punk funk - unforgettably punctuated by Rammel's mutant nasal rhyme forays (or "gangster duck" style) - epitomized the experimental ethos of early '80s downtown New York. A time when hip-hop's dissemination from the Bronx across neighborhoods, train lines, boroughs and well beyond put the world on notice: shit was about to change in irrefutable ways.