Acclaimed visual artist Justin BUA has long incorporated the elements of Hip Hop in his canvasses. Now, the West Coast-based BUA is finishing his book The Legends of Hip-Hop, featuring painted portraits of icons from all four pillars of the culture. The November book will also feature a Forward from Public Enemy’s Chuck D.

HipHopDX partnered with BUA for a three-part series featuring short conversations with both the artist and the legend. We begin with The Cold Crush Brothers’ Grandmaster Caz. The Bronx, New York Hip Hop pioneer is an emcee forefather, influencing the styles of the golden-era. Moreover, Caz remains active in recording music, speaking engagements and preserving Hip Hop.

BUA: Grandmaster Caz was a household name in the projects. Like other Hip Hop pioneers [Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa] Caz was a mythical figure to me. As one of the founding fathers of Hip Hop, he was the first deejay/emcee combination. His group, The Cold Crush Brothers, was one of the most popular in the city and set the standard for emceeing.

As a fan back in the days and as a painter of Hip Hop nobility I felt it was of utmost importance to paint Caz into the canon of not only Hip Hop history or art history but history. Caz is a pillar of Hip Hop culture so it’s obvious why I chose Caz as one of my personal top 50 Hip Hop legends. However as a person, Caz is one of the most humble, funny, cool cats out there in the game today. From an artists’ point of view, I have to say that Caz has one of those faces that was meant to draw—expressive, interesting, and seriously humorous. Caz has a wonderfully imaginative ability to impact an audience with a mere look in his eyes.  

More, It seems that he is at peace with his legacy and doesn’t want or need, like many disgruntled O.G.’s, the proverbial spotlight. Maybe it’s because he was there from the beginning and has an awareness of his important contributions to the culture, or maybe because he is just one of those cats who is just comfortable with who he is—either way his modest demeanor just adds to his greatness.

Grandmaster Caz: It’s an honor and a privilege to be added to a collective of Hip Hop artists and legends being documented for posterity in paint no less! Especially by an artists the caliber of a Justin BUA. My contributions to this culture come from my profound love, respect and passion for Hip Hop. Every element of Hip Hop has it’s own dynamic and our re-interpretation of those elements have aided their growth and influence on our planet. Graffiti brought color and imagination to the forefront with New York City as its canvas and we watched trains on overhead platforms from the ground below checking for a new Blade, Comet, Lee, Tracy or Bic 149 piece to appear. Breaking was a new and energetic release for all our pent up emotions and an alternative to the violence of the street gangs. We’d get just as much respect winning a battle as we would have winning a fight! The deejay was paramount, the maestro, the Pied Piper of sorts and wherever he’d go with his music, we would willingly follow. That’s before we added a voice to the music and our culture was locked in with these four foundational elements. Now certainly things have been added and some taken away but nevertheless Hip Hop is here to stay and with a book like BUA’s this culture will be etched in the hearts and minds of our collective consciousness for a long time to come. Once again I’m flattered and honored to be included in this collection. Do I feel I belong…