NO GUTS, NO GALAXY is a weekly series of artist-curated slideshows that expand upon the diverse subjects addressed in RAMMΣLLZΣΣ: Racing for Thunder, such as, the Downtown scene, early hip-hop and performance, Afrofuturism and cosmology, the mythology of Gothic Futurism, and the coercive power of language.
Event Description: In the middle of a November night in 1981, I stumbled onto New York's only rap radio program at the time, deejay’d by the legendary John Rivas, aka Mr. Magic. I called in with a few questions, and rather than get into it on air, Magic invited me up to the station. The following day he agreed to escort me into the heart of the Hip Hop scene. So began a photographic odyssey in which I was hired by Italian Vogue to document the birth of a culture. I was given a new camera and no editorial limits. For two weeks, I photographed everything I encountered from Grandmaster Flash at the turntables in the Disco Fever and Sylvia Robinson recording The Furious Five at her Jersey studios, to the Sugar Hill Gang, who received a club trophy for their first hit. I shot J-M Basquiat in his studio beneath Annina Nosei’s gallery, and students at the Bronx’s Kennedy High School pioneering Hip Hop's winter styles. This dream assignment culminated in a private throw-down where The RAMM:ELL:ZEE and the Soul of Sounds rapped with Fab Five Freddy, while Crazy Legs and The Rock Steady Crew broke in front of an invited crowd that included Keith Haring, Kenny Scarf, Rene Ricard and many others. A few days later, I screened these pictures for The RAMM:ELL:ZEE alone, and recorded his reactions.
Beyond a handful of shots published by LEI Magazine under the title 'Adesso Rap!' in March of 1982, few of these pictures and none of these recordings have been seen or heard in public.
Seth Tillett is an artist and designer living in NY.
Photo Credit: Randy at the Disco Fever. 1981.