One of hip-hop’s most enigmatic figures, RAMMELLZEE (b. 1960, New York; d. 2010) was a graffiti writer, rapper, and sculptor. Born in Far Rockaway, Queens, RAMMELLZEE began a brief graffiti career on the A train in the mid-1970’s. The equation was born in 1979. By the early 1980’s, he was creating paintings and three-dimensional sculptures of letters, many of which were shown in galleries and museums. As a musician, RAMMELLZEE had a nasal rap style, sometimes called “gangsta duck.” He appreared in Charlie Ahearn’s film Wild Style, and his 1983 song “Beat Bop” – produced and with a cover design by Jean-Michel Basquiat – featured prominetly in Henry Chalfrant
and Tony Silver’s documentary Style Wars. A reclusive artist, RAMMELLZEE all but stopped exhibiting his work in public and spent much of the last two decades of his life in his Tribeca loft he called the Battle Station, where he was rarely photographed without wearing one of his handmade, science fiction-style masks. He died in 2010 at the age of forty-nine. RAMMELLZEE has had solo exhibitions at the Helmond Museum and the Groniger Museum in Holland. Recently, a recreation of the Battle Station was featured in Art in the Streets at the Museum of Contemorary Art Los Angeles.