To begin at the beginning: meeting Fab 5 Freddy in 1980. I felt as if making this movie with him would be a snap—or as Rodney Cee would say, “Nothing to it, but to do it!” Lee Quinones’ struggle to create his art inspired me to work harder as a filmmaker. We were all Hip Hop artists struggling to take this culture to the next level. Who knew that Fred would dazzle on screen or that Lady Pink would be so intense on film? Hell, she isn’t acting! Busy Bee grabbed me at my first MC jam, got the part, and I am grateful for 25 years of Busy Bee. And I am so thankful to Grandmaster Caz, Grand Wizzard Theodore, Waterbed Kevie Kev, Rodney Cee, and all those who invited me to their parties and welcomed me into their homes.
After I had written a few essays for powerHouse Books, Miss Sara Rosen sidled up to me at one of their events and asked me if I wanted to publish a book with them; without hesitation I said “Wild Style The Sampler.” In the two years since that conversation I would often picture Sara dressed in a cheerleader’s outfit, shaking her pom poms from her desk, shouting, “Great! Great! Yeah great!”
In 1982, Charlie Ahearn wrote, directed, and produced a small, independent movie that released a year later, taking the world by storm as it screening in Cannes, Tokyo, and Times Square. Wild Style, the first film to unite the underground urban art forms of nascent hip hop culture—DJing, MCing, b-boying, and graff writing—was filmed on location in the South Bronx without permits or pretensions. Some twenty-five years after it’s release, Wild Style is truly a classic, having inspired countless artists, musicians, and writers with unforgettable scenes starring the era’s most memorable personalities.
To celebrate the film’s silver anniversary, Wild Style The Sampler provides an inside look at the making of the film, it’s release, and the reverberations it caused around the world. Narrated by Ahearn, the book introduces us to a cast of characters and outrageous adventures through a carefully curated collection of never-before-published photographs, original artwork, production stills, archival materials, and personal stories from stars Fab 5 Freddy, Lee Quinones, LADY PINK, ZEPHYR, Patti Astor, Busy Bee, Grandmaster Caz, Frosty Freeze, and Glenn O’Brien, insights into the film’s influence by artists, writers, and musicians including Sacha Jenkins, Carlo McCormick, Grand Wizzard Theodore, Melle Mel, Biz Markie, SHARP, REVOLT, Martha Cooper, Cathy Campbell, Cut Chemist, and DJ Krush, and additional photographs by Joe Conzo, Henry Chalfant, and many others. Recounting the film’s influence over the past quarter century, Wild Style The Sampler offers incomparable insight into hip hop’s most indelible film.