Fab Five Freddy

Real name: Fred Brathwaite
D.O.B.: 1959 South Bronx, NY

Fred Brathwaite (born 1960), 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. He is credited with helping to broaden the exposure of Hip-hop beyond The Bronx.

Art career

In the fall of 1980, Fred was cast along with fellow Lower East Side graffiti writer Lee Quinones in Glen O'Brien's film Downtown 81. That film showcased artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in his Downtown NYC environment and the music that surrounded it. Shortly after, Freddy began production along with filmmaker Charlie Ahearn on his film Wild Style, which showcased artist Lee Quinones in the Uptown NYC environment of the Bronx and the music that surrounded it. In April of 1981, Fred was booked on Michael Holman and Keith Haring's art show "Beyond Words" at the Mudd Club, which also featured Afrika Bambaataa. This was the first time the Bronx Hip-Hop scene appeared in the Downtown NYC art-scene. The following month, Fred 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-capicity, 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 in 1984.

Media Work

Fab 5 Freddy was referenced in Blondie's 1981 hit song "Rapture". The "Rapture" video, in which Freddy has a brief cameo, was the first hip-hop video to be shown on MTV. In 1983, Fab 5 Freddy produced a hip-hop version of "Eisgekühlter Bommerlunder" called Hip Hop Bommi Bop"together with German punk rock band Die Toten Hosen which is said to be the very first co-production of Punk and Hip Hop. In 1988 Freddy became the first hip-hop VJ by hosting the MTV music video show entitled "Yo! MTV Raps." He later went on to be an associate producer on 1991 hit New Jack City and also appeared in the movie.[1] In 1994 he directed the music video "One Love" by emcee Nas.

A graffiti art piece titled "Mr. Potato head" (1983) by Fab 5 Freddy has been displayed at the Brooklyn Museum of Art as part of their 2006 "Graffiti" exhibit.

Fab 5 Freddy's 1982 single "Change The Beat" ends with the processed vocalisation: "Aah this stuff is really fresh." This is arguably the most important sample in turntablism/scratch DJ history as most aspiring DJs (and most accomplished DJs) regularly use it to scratch with due to its versatility. The line shows up in hits such as Herbie Hancock's "Rockit".

Community Work

Both in real life and in the film Wild Style (1983), Braithwaite was a catalyst for action and change in the hip hop community. In the book Yes Yes Ya’ll (2002), Braithwaite is described as a “hip-hop renaissance man who helped bring graffiti and hip-hop culture to the downtown art scene” (Frick & Ahearn xiii). He strived to connect the artistic elements and participants within the hip hop community he partook in. Not only did Braithwaite participate in hip hop culture as a graffiti artist, he also frequently partook in the lower side’s avant-garde art scene. He started to notice connections between the art and music scene in lower Manhattan and the hip hop scene in the South Bronx. Braithwaite’s passion for synthesizing diverse aspects of art and culture formed as a major building block for hip hop's development in mainstream culture.

Fab Five Freddy also directed numerous music videos, including “My Philosophy” by Boogie Down Productions and both cuts of “Wake Up” by Brand Nubian.

Official Website: Fab5freddy.com
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