Uncapped: The Making of The Unauthorized Biography of Ree 2
Boogie Fam! It sure has been a while. Have you checked out the Bowery Boogie Uncapped (BBU) Podcast? Launched during the pandemic, we are now three seasons deep and chock full of interviews with graffiti pioneers, street artists, Boogie affiliates and most recently, a song debut.
You know that country we emancipated from in 1776? Well, the people that live there LOVE them some New Yorkers! We became acquainted with one gent in particular, Andy Jupp, of the digital audio wizardry conglomerate Larken Sparks, who edits our interview audio for the podcast and created the theme song. The group came about from the dissolution of his last band during lockdown 1.0. He decided to use the time to make hip-hop beats that nod to the pioneers of the boom bap era. What began as a “pass the time” project, turned into a collaborative effort. In the way of recording jam sessions together at someone’s house, Larken took home the beats and enlisted talented musicians Ryan Harvey, Jim White, Jason Crispe and later on Atom 3.25 from Madrid, Spain as collaborators. Melded together, they are Rock, Funk, Soul, Trip-Hop and Reggae. Check out his interview with us here.
During one Transatlantic chat, we decided to up the ante a bit. See, my partner and co-host, Brass and I were putting together our most recent BBU art show for REE 2, aka Fred Vilomar, the 1970s train writer turned established gallery artist and muralist; we thought, sure, editing interview episodes was a challenge, but how about something no one in the entire community of graffiti writers has done, like a song? And we would do it in time for the show, keep it a surprise, work with one another while navigating six-hour time differences. Piece of cake.
AJ said, “get me an emcee and I’ll make the song.” Now, one might think emcees in NYC are more prevalent than lawyers, but apparently that was the ’90s. I casually asked a writer that came on the podcast (and was part of our last Golden Gauntlet Graffiti Battle) if he knew any rappers and he said “well, actually, I used to rhyme.” And so it began … Frankie Botz, the Italian Stallion from Brooklyn with a penchant for spray paint, re-emerged as Frankie BOTZ, the lyrical genius who immortalized our friend, REE, with the Unauthorized Biography of REE 2 (the title homage to two of the best to ever do it, Rakim and Nas).
Taking notes from our various interviews with REE, Frankie penned the first ever biographical graffiti hip hop song. Put down the pen, pick up the can, now I’m back it again repeats seamlessly over a wave of record scratching, drums, and guitar riffs blended into pure joyful noise by Larken Sparks.
We debuted the song at the REE 2 Solo Show on August 19 to a speechless REE, his family and some of our friends (while livestreaming for those in the UK). It was Frankie’s first performance in 20 years and well, see for yourself.
It was the best kept secret, and a surprise. The song is now on iTunes and Amazon for 99 cents. All proceeds benefit Breast Cancer Research. Or you can stream it, basically everywhere.
To recap: we made a song from scratch about an ex-vandal from the 1970s with people in the United Kingdom and Spain from the comfort of our homes in NYC while never boarding a plane. What a time to be alive! But wait there’s more!
AJ put together a music video with Frankie for the song.
If you made it this far without exiting to go buy/stream the song, special shout out to Rob REPs for assisting with the song artwork. See you very soon. Who knows what we’ll think of next.
(When searching for the song in the U.S. swap the “Z” in “Unauthorized” for an “S” because f*cking Brits.)