One of my favorite scenes in “Krush Groove“ is when a really young-looking LL Cool J bumrushes the record label auditions held in Rubin’s office/NYU dorm room. Jam Master Jay almost pulls out his toolie. But Rubin, Andre Harrell, and DMC manage to calm him down. Flanked by his homeboys, LL points to the one holding a giant-size radio, and simply says, “BOX!” Then he proceeds to kill it with an animated performance of the now-classic cut “I Can’t Live Without My Radio.” “My radio believe me I like it loud/ I’m the man with the box that could rock the crowd…”
Once upon a time huge boomboxes were elemental hip-hop accessories. In his latest work, photographer and boombox collector Lyle Owerko pays homage to those very “ghetto-blasters” that were popular in the 1980s with an exhibition at the Clic Gallery in New York and a book called “The Boombox Project.”
Some 42 images of the iconic monster radios are on display there. The book, with a forward written by Spike Lee, documents their cultural significance with a mix of photos of people carrying them back in the day and Owerko’s subtly stylized portraits. Also included is an oral history of rap’s early days featuring comments from a slew of hip-hop luminaries including Fab 5 Freddy, Rosie Perez and of course, LL Cool J.
If you’re in NY, there is a book signing event on Thursday, Oct. 14 from 6 to 8 pm at 255 Centre Street.
In addition, there’s a line of Gelaskins you can apply on computers, smartphones, video game controllers and mp3 players.
The following video features Owerko and Fab 5 discussing boombox history.