Fab Five Freddy

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Fred Brathwaite (born 1959), more popularly known as Fab 5 Freddy, is an American Hip hop historian, Hip hop pioneer and former graffiti artist. He was active in New York City in the 1970s and early 1980s, and later hosted the first hip-hop music video show on TV, "Yo! MTV Raps".

Contents

Career

Art/ Hip-Hop

As a young teenager in the 1970s Fab 5 Freddy was a member of the Brooklyn based graffiti group "The Fabulous 5." He got his name for consistent graffiti "bombing" of the number 5 train on the IRT. Outside of the Fabulous 5 group, in 1980, he painted a subway train with cartoon style depictions of giant Campbell's Soup cans[1], after Andy Warhol. In the late 1970s and early 1980s he was an unofficial bridge between the uptown graffiti and early rap scene and the downtown art and punk music scenes. “I was bringing the whole music, hip-hop, art, break dancing and urban cultural thing to the downtown table” he said.[2] At the end of 1980, Glenn O'Brien cast Freddy, along with fellow Lower East Side graffiti writer Lee Quinones, in the film New York Beat (later released as Downtown 81). That film showcased artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in his Lower Manhattan environment and the culture that surrounded it. Shortly after, Freddy began production along with filmmaker Charlie Ahearn on his film Wild Style (1982), which showcased artist Lee Quinones in the Uptown, Manhattan environment of the Bronx and the music that surrounded it. In April 1981, Freddy helped curate (with Futura 2000 and Keith Haring) the graffiti-related art show "Beyond Words" at the Mudd Club, which contained their own work along with Jean-Michel Basquiat, Rammellzee, Afrika Bambaataa, and others. This was the first time the many members of the Bronx hip-hop scene had appeared in a Downtown NYC art context. The following month, Freddy was booked on Henry Chalfant's "Graffiti Rock" performance with Rock Steady Crew at Common Ground gallery in SoHo (not to be confused with Holman's Graffiti Rock TV show pilot). That show was cancelled due to violence, but was rescheduled in October at another venue called "The Kitchen". After the Rock Steady Crew and Afrika Bambaataa were booked as the opening act for Bow Wow Wow at The Ritz nightclub in September 1981, Ruza Blue decided to book them at Negril and begin a night called "Wheels of Steel". That became so popular that it was closed down by the fire department for over-capacity, and Freddy helped Blue (whom he dubbed "Kool Lady Blue") find another home for the party. Together they chose The Roxy roller rink in NYC, which gained national fame once used in the film Beat Street (1984).

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