The following is from Sam Cohen's Meme's & Mortar blog. I thought it was a good window into the world of RAMM ELL ZEE & it's an interesting blog, dealing with alot of what i was dealing with while living in Oakland, CA & working with Oaklandish. Anyhow, RAMM ELL ZEE was one of the few artists who i truly respect & admire & believe in their work. He was/is so clearly a bonafide culture hero & wizard in the truest sense, which is what the true artist is. More as i find it.
“We control your icons. We wrote them on your trains those big gigantic rolling pages...”
-Rammellzee, interview, Style Wars 2004 edition.
I first heard of The Rammellzee through my man Chuck Galli, who interviewed him for a paper titled “Hip-Hop Futurism: Remixing Afrofuturism and the Hermeneutics of Identity.” Chuck directed me to Zee's website, where can be found the cryptic treatise/equation that the artist's name embodies, as well as some sculptural representations of the godheads who, as Zee sees it, fight for the domination of language.
Rammellzee has been active since the late seventies. As a member of that founding generation, he was and remains uniquely sensitive to the power of symbols and signifiers to generate and destroy worlds. Hip hop is a war of symbolic communication, and like a savant or kabbalist, Zee understands alphanumeric units not as pure abstractions, but as souls, and soldiers:
“The letters are weapons. Instead of Orson Wells stating that...the books will be burnt. The books will stay there. The letters have left the page. And once it went up the letter had better be ready to fly.”
-””, Style Wars 2004 edition.
So, here is the interview:
[SC] You seem to have a unique understanding of language and its hidden powers. And I am curious how you would describe your relationship to language, whether as a sculptor, emcee, whatever...
[RZ] The "Weaver's" have it! ZeeOut.
[SC] The Weaver's!? Who are the Weaver's, Zee?
[RZ] We are...and the others that migrated from the burnt out, bulletins, schools, fuzz,death. ZeeOut.
[SC] That reminds me of a verse I wrote once,
'Learn to weave, and time will bend for you,
it is a different art from drawing lines.'
Hard to put a finger on, but 'weaving' involves a different kind of consciousness than 'delineation,' which is the mode in which man-made environments, texts, works of art are usually built and experienced.
And the tension between the two, as when an artist weaves over linear surfaces or spaces, as with subway graffiti and certain styles of rap, can be explosive. What do you think?
[RZ] As like in the Gothics or the webs Futurism. z.
[SC] You know, language has been standardized to an amazing degree in the past few hundred years, thanks to the extension of public education, bureaucracy, communications networks. But language, if left to its own devices, evolves very quickly, as evidenced by the many 'bastard' dialects that branched off from Latin after the fall of the Roman Empire.
"Standard English" is basically a closed system. There are rules of grammar, spelling, even pronunciation...which prevent us from changing it in any lasting way. But there are some people who the forces of standardization do not reach--ghetto kids, for example. And my question is, do you think this apparent disadvantage can sometimes free people to innovate or even restructure language?
[RZ] Due to the fact that in hip-hop or rap music, which are definitely 2 different things. Hip-Hop is for fun, rap is a mug shot for gangsters and war and pimps. Both are always business men or wombed-man. Emotionally it is impossible for the subject as slanguage. For if a white man can act like a black man but has forgotten that letters themselves were once racists by volume and diction. A black man thinks he owns A-Z and this rhythmic culture now noticed by the white man, makes the white man look impotent since Gutenberg's printing press and the Clergy.
White man thinks he has invented something called respect by disavowing the language of our language tree by thinking that the black man regurgitated from white man's indo-european germanic dialects.
[SC] People have probably asked you this before, but what do you think was the role of the five percenters in the development of hip hop culture? Especially maybe from 1974-79, what you describe as “a war era, where knowledge formed about by itself through the body, in the dark, underground.”
[RZ] There was none. It was about Math and the Mapamatics of the body.
[SC] Where were you during the blackout of 1977?
[RZ] Madison Avenue. Zee OUT.