Sunday, April 11, 2010

What Do American Pop Culture Icons Jean Michel Basquiat, Run DMC, and Vincent "The Prince" Gallo Have in Common?

In the midst of working on an article for my blog, I took a short entertainment break and uncovered something great.  I came across one of the most ground-breaking and important videos  of all time, as far as hip-hop culture goes. It's definitely an oldie-but-goodie, one that will indubitably go down in hip-hop and American pop culture history, that's for certain.

Graffiti Rock and Other Hip Hop Delights
The video is from the June 29, 1984 pilot episode of television show "Graffiti Rock & Other Hip Hop Delights".  The show was intended to be an ongoing episodic hip-hop dance show, patterned after other popular weekly dance shows of the time like "Soul Train" and "American Bandstand", but unfortunately it never made it past the original pilot episode.  Michael Holman, hip-hop pioneer and friend of late pop art icon Jean Michel Basquiat, is the show's creator and host, while rappers Run-DMC, Special K, and Kool Moe Dee perform.

This brilliant work aired in New York City on WPIX and in a few other television markets throughout the United States.  The entire episode is now available on DVD.

Michael Holman
Michael Holman

American pop culture is so interesting for a number of reasons.  What it represents, in theory, is a culmination of the everyday languages of common folk, blended into one.  These languages are composed of simultaneous infusions of art, music, advertisements, photography, comic books, film, and television images, semantics, ethnicity, political, social, and academic climates, and so much more.

There are no boundaries, it seems, as pop culture is constantly evolving and achieving new pinnacles.  With pop culture, one can start out in art and end up in hip-hop music and dance in a New York minute.  That's exactly what happened to me today.

I was digging in the crates, so to speak, which is what many hip-hop producers and D.J.'s typically do when they go to vintage music stores, second-hand stores, or their parents' old records stash, searching for old songs to sample as they create new music.

I was doing some research online, reading up on American Pop artists, as I often do.  I was, in fact, on an American pop culture scavenger hunt, as I like to call it when I forage around the World Wide Web for interesting articles, images, videos, and anything I can get my hands on referencing the topic.  What a great find indeed!

I began by reading about iconic pop artists.  First, I viewed some paintings by one of my favorite pop artists, Jean Michel Basquiat.  I read a few articles about him and reminisced on the wonderful biographical epic film about his life, aptly titled "Basquiat."  The brilliant and diverse film's soundtrack was calling my name, so I had to pop it in for a listen, not to mention, I thought it would awaken my sleeping muse and add inspiration to my writing hand, crying out for assistance.

Andy WarholAndy Warhol

After spending a little time with Basquiat, the natural thing to do would be to spend a little time with my 'friend' Andy Warhol, so I did.  I went on to enjoy some reading about yet another one of my favorite pop artists, Andy Warhol, known by many as founding father of the American Pop Art Movement .  I visited a few art websites and blogs where I could make googley eyes at his wonderful works of art and then get back to the business of my own writing. 

Certainly, I didn't get right back to writing.  That would just make way too much sense.  Instead, I followed a link because that's what they're for right -- to be followed.  Who am I to alter a thing's purpose?  I had to follow that link.  So I ended up reading even more interesting articles on American pop artists of course.

When you watch this video, you will be astonished to see some of the greatest break dancing and spinning.  You will also hear some old-school rap hits from the days of the original "boom-bat" when rap and hip-hop culture was new, fresh, and still in its defining stage of pre-pubescence.

This video represents art, hip-hop, music, and theater on the cutting edge of everything that we now know pop culture to be.  Famous hip-hop acts like Run DMC perform set the stage and dancers on fire in this one, as it sits the viewer on the edge of her seat.  World famous rap star from the 1980's, Kool Moe Dee is also on the microphone in this gem, as well as Vincent "The Prince" Gallo.

Enjoy this clip from "Graffiti Rock & Other Hip Hop Delights"

My on-going education of American Pop Culture never ceases its wondrous whisking whirls of expansion and enlightenment.  This is exactly why I love it so much.  As I continue to my immersion in American pop culture, I grow more and more amazed, while increasing in my ever-growing appreciation of the fact that there is always so much more for me to learn.  It's all interconnected.  How exciting!  Shall the learning never cease!

If you enjoyed the clip of "Graffiti Rock & Other Hip Hop Delights," it's also available on DVD.

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