Hip Hop Be Bop

Rammellzee vs K. Rob – Beat Bop

Tartown Record Co. (US) [TT001] 1983

Born in 1960 in Queens, New York, Rammellzee (R.I.P.) was an artist who began bombing the subway trains with the likes of legendary graffiti artist, Dondi (R.I.P.). He was well known for his artwork and futuristic masks and costumes which he would regularly wear. Imagine the hip hop equivalent of Sun-Ra and you have Rammellzee.

Following an appearance with Shock Dell at the end of the cult movie Wildstyle which also featured on the soundtrack, this was Rammellzee’s debut release with partner K. Rob and saw the two trading verses. Personally I hated it back then as I first heard it on Street Sounds Electro 2. It was like a piece of alternative hip hop and didn’t seem to fit with the uptempo electro tracks on the album but over the years I’ve grown to love it.

The original first pressing on Tartown Record Co. was produced by and featured custom artwork by his friend Jean-Michel Basquiat (R.I.P.) and was limited to 500 copies. It is still considered one of hip hop’s holy grails, selling for over $1500 on occasions, although various reissues have made it a lot easier to own if you can’t afford an original. This version plays at 45rpm as indicated on the label and has just the one small press ring. To date, with the exception of the white vinyl pressing, all the reissues and bootlegs have two press rings.

The more widely available second pressing was on Profile Records the same year and is a far cheaper way to own an original release. There are two different promotional pressings of this, one of which is bleeped and is indicated by the catalogue number. There is also a bootleg pressing of the normal promo which was possibly pressed in the 2000’s. The label looks identical so the difference will be in the runout grooves, however, from the images I’ve seen the label on the bootleg seems to only have a small press ring instead of the additional large outer ring of the originals. I don’t actually have a copy of the bootleg so I can’t be 100% positive about this yet.

The first of the unofficial Tartown reissues was in 2001. It can be identified by having two press rings and although the label says 45rpm it actually plays at 33rpm. This was followed in 2005 by an identical one with two press rings but it actually played at 45rpm like the original. It also came with a giant 2′ x 2′ poster of the original artwork and had a hype sticker stating this on the shrink wrap. The same year also saw an identical pressing but without the addition of a poster and then in 2011 there was a special edition pressed on white vinyl.

2014 Record Store Day saw the first official reissue. It was licensed by Get On Down and manufactured by Sony. The release was limited to 1,983 copies to represent it’s original release date and was pressed on split colour black and white vinyl. It was housed in a plastic sleeve embossed with the Get On Down logo on the opening and included a gatefold insert of liner notes containing An Oral History Of Beat Bop. As a celebration of both the original releases it came in the same Tartown picture sleeve but had Profile labels.

It was sold again exclusively by Get On Down on split colour vinyl but contained in a record box featuring the official artwork. This was limited to just 300 bundles although the record case was also sold on it’s own and was limited to 1000 in total including the bundles.

The track listing is the same on each version.

Read the complete “An Oral History Of Beat Bop” here.

[Update 25-3-2018] Beat Bop was also edited for a 7″ pressing in 2018.

Side A

Beat Bop [10:10]

Side B

Beat Bop (Instrumental) [9:34]

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