Beat Bop is a hip hop single by American rappers Rammellzee and K-Rob, originally released in 1983 by record label Tartown. Initially distributed merely as a test pressing, it is notable for being featured in the hip-hop documentary film Style Wars (Tony Silver, 1983) and having a cover designed by Jean-Michel Basquiat. The result of a disagreement between Rammellzee and Basquiat, the track has been cited as having an influence on artists such as Beastie Boys and many experimental hip hop artists due to its chaotic, abstract sound. Due to the rarity of its original pressing, it has been called the Holy Grail of rap records. Due to Basquiat’s fame, original copies exchange hands for over four figures.
Designed solely by Jean-Michel Basquiat, the artwork of the record are typical of his style, featuring a graffiti-influenced, chaotic clash of imagery and text. The front cover includes rough sketches of bones, what appears to be a crown, an explosion (and within it, the word “bang!” in capital letters), and Roman numerals. The record labels are in the same style, even going as far as originally not mentioning the artists involved in its production or the name of the track. Due to Basquiat’s fame, original copies exchange hands for over four figures. Curiously, the cover spells Rammellzee’s name incorrectly, using only one L instead of two, a fact that irked Rammellzee even in the years following the record’s release. The single was repressed in 2001 by Tartown Records, the label that initially released it, with its original cover art retained.
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