Readers with a great memory will remember that I interviewed Ashwan back in March of last year. A few weeks back Ash got in touch to see if I´d be interested in assisting/shooting him whilst he installed his latest piece on the streets. I´m sure you can guess my answer to his question…
For this particular piece Ash had been commissioned by the US rapper Cesar Comanche to create something very specific. Cesar had come up with an idea for his latest t-shirt run but wanted to do something a little different with it. Having seen Ash’s ubiquitous hip hop inspired works online he decided that a street piece would be the perfect accompaniment to the release. With that, a 6ft cardboard version of the words ‘Analog Boom Bap Champion’ was born.
We decided to install the piece close to Ash’s studio on Calle Avinyo in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona. Yes, that’s correct, I am taking some credit for the chosen location, maybe even 90% of the credit! I have to tell you at this point that Ash completely disagrees with this opinion. Last time I ever allow him to preview my work.
Calle Avinyo was once a residential area which until the 19th century housed the families of the bourgeoisie and aristocracy. It is also known for the ‘Ca la Merce’ a brothel frequented by Pablo Picasso. It’s said that he was inspired to paint his famous painting Les demoiselles d´Avignon from this local establishment. Considered the most important cubist painting of all time, Les Demoiselles d Avingon´was painted and exhibited first in Paris in 1907.
The installation of the piece was all very smooth with very little interruptions other than a very close call with two police on scooters. Thankfully we noticed their presence just in time and they rolled on by. There were a lot of really intrigued people stopping to look at what was going down and take some photos. This included a group of builders who downed tools to stand and watch the whole process. Apologies to that particular shop owner for the loss of time!
To garner a little bit more information behind this very unique piece of street art I decided to reach out and interview the man behind the words, Cesar Comanche. We spoke about his career, his attempts at tagging and of course the meaning behind Analog Boom Bap Champion
Hi Cesar how are you? Tell us a little about yourself… What inspired you to start rapping?
CC – I’m Cesar Comanche of the Justus League, True School Corporation, & Black Jedi Zulus. My origins are from a small Historically Black Community called Georgetown, which is located in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Georgetown’s formation was a result of a system in the United States called Segregation, which was a once legal means to keep races separate. I was born and grew up in the post segregation era so the majority of my development was in a Jacksonville neighbourhood called New River. A mixture of Funk, RnB, late 70s / early 80s rap, AME Methodist & Southern Baptist church choirs, rock, movie scores/soundtracks, disco, plus 80s pop all forged my love of music. These are the things that inspired me but are not the reasons I started rapping. I started writing because one day in the early 90s words started coming to my head in lyrical patters and I could not shut them off. I started rapping because I went to college and my freshman year was exposed to people my age who were making legitimate songs. This exposure turned being a rap artists from something only demigods could accomplish into a realistic mortal possibility.
What’s the rap scene like in North Carolina? My rap geography has never been great, I always remember artists but rarely where they are from!
CC – NC, located in the south east USA, is a diverse state, that has literally 100 counties. Some places there is no rap scene & some are over saturated. I currently live in Raleigh, NC which is the second largest city and the Capital of the state. Raleigh, Durham, & Chapel Hill is an area of NC called “The Triangle” which is the only section I can really speak on. This area’s rap scene fluctuates like the stock market. I’ve seen the value go up and down. When I speak of “value” I’m not talking about talent, but about the chance of seeing a return on rap based events, albums, etc, on a local level. Right now its in a valley, I’m not sure if its still falling or on a upswing. It will become more fruitful for people sooner or later. This local rap scene is NOT a place where you can make a living off your craft, you must build an actual monetary generating fan base on a national/international level. This has to be the goal no matter if my local scene’s value is up or down.
You’ve worked with some pretty legendary figures in rap like 9th wonder, Dilated peoples etc (as part of the Justus league) how did that group all come about?
CC – Short answer is 1. Not being an asshole. 2. Being dependable. 3. Making quality, honest music. Longer answer, when JL started none of us were legends. We were just some college kids who preferred a rap sound that was no longer part of dominant pop culture. This was the late 90s the Ruff Riders, Timbaland, Murder Inc era. We were those weird kids who still loved and made gritty boom bap to the best of our abilities. Getting to mix it up with cats and crews like Hiero, Boot Camp Click, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Slum Village, Yasiin Bey, Dilated Peoples, Alkaholiks, etc was also the result of not following trends. I dropped my first album in the year 2000. In almost 20 years I have never been a contradiction of myself. I just grow as a lyricist, song maker, & album producer who continually becomes more comfortable in my own skin.
You recently commissioned Ashwan to produce a street piece for you, how did that come about?
CC – Ashwan either followed me on Instagram or a Liverpool FC hashtag drew him to my profile. He made a comment on a LFC based post and something told me to investigate his profile. Once I did I saw all this crazy street art. He has graffiti, museum exhibits, you name it. I really dig his style. I been selling Cesar Comanche shirts for years I had this idea for a new design which I knew he could achieve perfectly. I have this uncanny talent to come up with a collaboration idea and I will meet or the person(s) who can perfectly accomplish the goal with me will reveal themselves to me. Its very weird. Ashwan took my words and gave them the perfect visual life. He had the brilliant idea to make it street art in Barcelona in addition to the shirt design idea.
You two bonded over a mutual love over Liverpool football club right? Can’t be too many LFC fans in North Carolina?!
CC – Yeah LFC sparked our first convo. I only know 5 fans in NC, I’m sure there has to be at least 14 more.
What was the inspiration behind choosing the words – ‘Analog boom bap champion’
CC – I love music to sound PERFECTLY IMPERFECT. The crackles, the sound of the room, breaths, friction of needle touching record, sonic waves passing through our universe, the warmth. If I don’t get that from music or any kind of art, I don’t feel anything. For me personally it feels like how I imagine its like to be in a loveless marriage. Over all this time I’ve proven I’m an Analog Boom Bap Champion. Which has a double meaning, 1. I personally won that “award”. 2. I love and support that sound. So anyone who wears that shirt is making one or both statements by wearing it. The sound which is soulful, gritty, hard drums, sample based, rap music.
Was that your first venture into the street art scene?
CC – No I tried to tag my name before, it looked wack as hell. Real graffiti writers have tagged my name before and even wrote song titles of mine in different parts of the world. I didn’t ask them I was just sent pics of their finished work. Its a high honour to me because Hip-hop is a Renegade Culture and graffiti is the most renegade element of the culture.
How do you feel about the finished piece now you have seen it?
CC – I love the outcome. I could not have imagined it better.
Change of topic, just for some fun – If you could have one super power for the day what would you choose?!
CC – Teleportation would be cool. I can take whoever or whatever I want with me and somehow nobody ever found out I could do it. Don’t overthink it, just go with it.
What’s next for Cesar Comanche?
CC – DJ Flash Gordon and my upcoming album is a pretty crazy idea/project. Its called HOUSE ATREIDES and it drops spring 2019. The album is the RIGHT BRAIN vibration. Its based 21,000 years in the future and is half of a message sent back to our time. The two parts are the LEFT & RIGHT Brain vibration. The LEFT BRAIN vibration is already available to the public