RAMMΣLLZΣΣ is New York’s creative expression personified and we’re still living in the ripples of his cultural impact.
I’ve only met a handful of people who speak often about living in their mythos. It’s hard to grasp what that means without thinking of tall Greek tales that include the smiting of gorgons or multi-head canines. You really have to be in the presence of a person who has the ability to merge their version of reality with that of the world’s. You’re even luckier if you get to watch as they manifest their persona onto this 3D plane and get buy in from their surroundings. Example, Maachew Bentley aka the Genie who grants his own wishes.
Rammellzee, a self-mythologizing figure in his own right, is the polymath whose indelible mark on contemporary culture is a testament to his forward thinking art and philosophy.
The artist first emerged in the late 1970s as “King of the A Line,” for hitting the A train with his signature graffiti. Later, he would become an in-the-know reference through cameos in one of the most important graffiti and hip-hop films, Charlie Ahearn’s “Wild Style.” Rammellzee’s track “Beat Bop”—produced and first issued by Basquiat—is still widely recognized as one of the pillar tracks of early rap, and has inspired artists such as Parliament Funkadelic, the Beastie Boys and RATKING.
As I toured the Red Bull Arts New York exhibit “RAMMΣLLZΣΣ: Racing for Thunder,” I felt deeply connected to this kindred spirit. To see a fellow NYC native claim expansive endeavors and reach for unlimited potential is an ode to the Big Apple hustle: taking a bite out of everything and becoming a melting pot of talent. Rammzellee was a creative machine who, in a span of a decade, boasted a list of accomplishments that ranged the gamut of output: from being the first artist to collaborate with Supreme, to writing a proposal to the military, to completing a comic book, to completing a record… the list is exhaustive.
This week we’ll be featuring portraits of #RAMMELLZEE’s ‘Garbage Gods’ – a set of 21 cosmic characters that he created and embodied, all of which have their own origin stories, personalities, and special powers. All portraits taken by Keetja Allard (@keetjaallard) in NYC in July 2002. First up is “VAIN”, the galactics’ secretary. She works secretly for “mathtrix” the space station. Special Powers: From the pollen in the flower worn in her hair she can mesmerize a good hue-man’s thoughts into bad murmurish nightmares that compel you to do her bidding. Age: Unknown. Photo: RAMMΣLLZΣΣ as “VAIN”, courtesy Keetja Allard. “VAIN” © 2018 The Rammellzee Estate
Today, in a hyper connected world, we are witnessing the collaborations of industries, cultures, people and trades. The wearing of many hats at a startup, the photographer/DJ/business manager/influencer on your feed, the tech CEO that is one part musician and one part painter, the Afrobeat culture moved by the Afro-future philosophies (Rammzellee was a Gothic Futurist theoretician). In short we are living in a world that is more accepting and demanding of the polymaths and moving away from the monolithic Ford assembly line. Still while a new era of renaissance men and #reignassancewoman is clearly upon us, this isn’t a new trend. In fact some of the most praised minds in history i.e. Aristotle, Leonardo Da Vinci, Hippocrates, have been considered “jacks of all trades.”
The exhibit is FREE and I highly recommend seeing it before it ends. Added bonus: you’ll get to live out your BELLY blue light special goals, #sonewyork part deux. See below details and more pics!
RAMMΣLLZΣΣ: Racing for Thunder
May 4 – August 26, 2018
Wednesday – Sunday
12pm – 7pm
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Photo story by Maachew Bentley