The Balance - Vex Ruffin

from the album Conveyor (2017)

OK, it is time for reader participation.  Please recite a line from the Blondie song Rapture.

Did you say "Fab 5 Freddy told me everyone is fly"?  Come on.  I know you did.  Unless, of course, you are one of those Subaru-loving weirdos.  Anyhow, I would bet that more people know of Fab 5 Freddy through that single line than through all the other publicity and acclaim he has received in his magnificent lifetime.

On the surface, this doesn't seem fair.  Just ask any of the other four guys in the Fabulous 5.

But at the core, this result is all about connections.  All about expanding your network into other worlds and then amplifying those connections.

The Fabulous 5 were master graffiti artists - known as Subway Writers - who specialized in spray painting their art across entire subway cars.  In The Bronx, they became legendary and stood at the nexus of graffiti art and the emerging rap and hip-hop scene.  Both were about self-expression.  About being noticed.

Fab 5 Freddy then crossed the racial divide, reaching out to Lower East Side graffiti artists, like Keith Haring, which introduced him into new circles that included Andy Warhol, The Village Voice, and the Punk Rock scene.  In the latter, he forged a friendship with Chris Stein and Deborah Harry, of an up and coming band, Blondie.

Once Blondie skyrocketed to stardom with their Parallel Lines album, Fab 5 Freddy took time to indoctrinate them in the underground art of The Bronx, including rap music.  This resulted in Blondie creating Rapture, the first song containing rap lyrics to reach #1 on the US Charts.

This helped create mind bending opportunity for the art and music of The Bronx.

Now, let's shift scenes to Vex Ruffin, a self-taught musician from the Los Angeles area who specializes in minimalist punk music.  As he has honed his craft, he has begun infusing beats and samples, not too indifferent from early hip hop, which, when combined with his punk sensibilities, creates music with a direct connection to NYC 1980.

One of Vex's friends shared a new song - The Balance - with a friend, suspecting he might enjoy it.  That friend was Fab 5 Freddy, who offered to rap on the song.  It was Freddy's first recording in 30 years.  In Fab 5 Freddy's words:

"I liked the way this idea organically developed and I began to see my involvement as a sort of art performance piece.  The track reminded me of cool dance records that downtown NY DJ's played back in the 80's at places like The Mudd Club, The Garage, Area, Danceteria, and Nells where I hung out, so I put myself in that mindset when working on my lyrics for this song."

And through Fab 5 Freddy's participation, Vex Ruffin will reach thousands of new listeners he may not otherwise have.  It is all about the power of connections, of self-promotion, of extending your reach into secondary networks, and beyond.

It is also about making great art and sticking with it.  I dig what Vex Ruffin has achieved.  It is inspiring.

Click Here to watch the music video to The Balance by Vex Ruffin featuring Fab 5 Freddy.

Click Here to watch video from a recent exhibit of Fab 5 Freddy's art.

Click Here to for some incredible graphical storytelling from The Nib detailing how Fab 5 Freddy met Blondie.

Click Here to watch the original music video for Rapture by Blondie.


  1. Not so much a Subaru lover, but my phrase was "back to back sacroiliac" from rapture. But hey, being fly was cool too.

    The Vex Ruffin video with Fab 5 Freddy was awesome. The infusion of graphic novel art with a segue to live was a wonderful experience.

    Not to mention, the memory flash back from Rapture put me on a listening quest that lasted for some while. Thanks.

    1. OK JB, I'll give you sacroiliac. Agreed about the graphic art video. Too cool.


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