DJ Qbert & Justin BUA @ Amoeba Hollywood Nov 17, holding up the image of the DJ by BUA
Considering that Justin Bua's iconic 2001 The DJ poster art is the renowned contemporary artist's most recognizable piece of art (not to mention the best selling poster art of all time) it was most fitting that the artist known as BUA should have invited DJ QBert, the world's greatest DJ artist, to join him at his recent Amoeba Hollywood instore on November 17th in honor of BUA's must-get new book The Legends of Hip-Hop (Harper Design) that includes DJ QBert among the fifty hip-hop figures carefully chosen by BUA as subjects that capture & represent the very essence of hip-hop culture in his eyes.
Described as an intimate look at the visionaries, the movers and the shakers, and the pioneers who have helped shape the world of hip hop signed copies by BUA and Qbert of this must get book are available online from Amoeba for $34.99. Among the diverse array of other hip-hop figures chosen by BUA to portray in his unique self-described Distorted Urban Realism style of art are Jay Z, James Brown, President Obama (hip-hop's first president), and Run DMC (BUA joins DMC from the legendary hip-hop group at LACMA on Monday for another free event tied into his new book - for full info scroll down). In addition to Run DMC's late great DJ Jam Master Jay and DJ QBert, other DJs honored in the book include Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash.
BUA readily recognizes that without DJs, in particular Kool Herc who created hip-hop, there could be no hip-hop and he has always had great respect for turntable masters like QBert. "I grew up around DJs. I know DJs. I love hip-hop. I'm a graffiti writer. I'm a b-boy and I just love this type of icon," he said of his iconic The DJ which "turned out to be one of the most popular poster images of all time." Of his inspiration to do The DJ art a decade ago he said, "I wanted to do something that was representative of my culture and that was it." Hence to have QBert perform at the Amoeba instore "was really awesome" he said via phone recently. "It was spectacular being there at Amoeba with DJ QBert and having both the real music heads and the art lovers all together in one place was a beautiful thing," said the proud New Yorker who has lived in LA for several years now, teaches Figure Drawing in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Southern California, and calls LA "the second best city in the world."
I asked BUA how tough was it narrowing down his subjects for The Legends of Hip Hop down to just 50 and were there many that he didn't get to include in the book? "Yes absolutely there were a lot of legends from a historical point of view that were not reflected in my book" he said due to space requirements noting how those included are all, "Personal legends without whom I wouldn't be the person I am and I think a lot of people in this culture wouldn't be the people they are without these people. Every single person in this book is a tsunami of the culture. In other words everyone in this book has affected the culture in a seminal way such as Run DMC. If you didn't have Run DMC then hip-hop doesn't go global. If you don't have no James Brown then there really is no hip-hop because we took all of his samples. We took all of his footwork. We took all of his grunts, his moves, his music and we use them on turntables. We use them to dance to. He is the most sampled artist in the history of hip-hop. So without people like that you don't have the culture."
A hardcover book that would make the excellent holiday or anytime gift for that true hip-hop fan The Legends of Hip-Hop is available from Amoeba for $34.99 - signed copies by Bua and QBert while supplies last. BUA's artwork is accompanied by an engaging autobiographical narrative in which he talks about the impact of each figure on him personally and hip-hop at large. As you might have guessed Public Enemy are also included in his book. "Oh yeah Public Enemy is in there," BUA told me, adding that. "In fact Chuck D actually wrote my forward which is a really beautiful forward."
If you are in the LA area this coming Monday you can catch BUA at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) at 5905 Wilshire when he will joined by DMC (from RUN DMC) on a panel discussion about the content of The Legends of Hip-Hop. Monday, December 12th @ 7pm at the Bing Theater at the LACMA. All ages. More info in flyer below.