Thirty years ago Wild Style gave a world stage to New York City’s burgeoning hip hop culture while deftly skating the chasm between its subject — young graffiti writers, break dancers, MCs and DJs making something from nothing — and the Manhattan elite that had begun to take notice. So much has happened since. Hip hop would soon bypass the cultural elite with no regard to established rules of etiquette and make its appeal direct to youth worldwide. The graffiti styles documented in Wild Style inspired a generation of street artists who have now thoroughly infiltrated the overground art world. Stateside, hip hop eventually surpassed country as the number one music-of-choice for working and middle class America, and continues to thrive in the post-record sales music business. And though the Manhattan elite has to some extent re-established its dominance as an arbiter of culture, young hip hop artists from the Bronx to Meridian still insist on ignoring its conventions. NYC Parks SummerStage is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Wild Style Monday with a free outdoor screening at the East River Bandshell with live performances by Chief Rocker Busy Bee, Grand Wizard Theodore, the Cold Crush Brothers and Rodney C, and appearances by director Charlie Ahearn and stars Fab 5 Freddy, Lady Pink, Lee Quinones and Patti Astor.
On this day in music history: March 18, 1983 - The hip hop documentary film “Wild Style” is officially released in US theaters. Written, produced and directed by Charlie Ahern and released through First Run Features, the film is one of the first to document the different aspects of New York underground Hip Hop/B-boy subculture including graffiti writing, MC'ing, DJ'ing and break dancing. It features a number of important and seminal figures to the movement including Fab 5 Freddy, The Cold Crush Brothers, The Rock Steady Crew, Grandmaster Flash, Busy Bee, Grandmixer DST (now known as DXT), and Lee Quinones. The accompanying soundtrack album (originally released on Animal/Chrysalis Records and produced by Ahern and Fab 5 Freddy) features many of the artists seen in the film (additional pieces by Grandmaster Caz and Chris Stein of Blondie) and becomes a musical cornerstone and often sampled part of rap in the years that follow. The original single LP is reissued by Beyongolia Records in 1998 as a double LP set (with extra tracks) in a gatefold sleeve, and as a further expanded edition for its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2008 by Rhino Records. Rhino also releases the film on VHS and later on DVD. “Wild Style” attains a major cult following over the years, and is recognized by the Museum Of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Institute Of Contemporary Art of Boston and the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame for its ongoing cultural importance and significance.