What's The Time?: Todd "REAS" James for "The Skills to Pay the Bills"

Juxtapoz // Wednesday, 08 May 2013

Our Beastie Boys issue is now out in the world, and today we look at the contributions of Todd James, known sometimes as REAS, to the BBoys canon. James created a few animations and graphic works for the Beasties, including the Dusted Elephant. He also created the animated sequence for the 1992 B-side, "The Skills to Pay the Bills." 

Todd James told us:

Dave Scilken, who I knew from hanging out as well as graffiti, called me to draw the Elephant for the Brooklyn Dust logo. He designed the type. But he described that they wanted an elephant on angel dust sitting on a couch. His art direction was to draw it with a thick black outline like the graffiti characters he had seen me do. It was the first serious art work I was ever paid to do, and I was 17 when we did it. I'm eternally thankful to Dave for involving me because it was a real breakthrough for me. He opened the door that helped me transition into everything I’ve done professionally. It was at a turning point in my life. I wasn’t really planning on going to college. It was the first time someone my age was saying, “Yo, man you should work on this with me and we can make some money.” It was a transition from being unemployed or unemployable into getting paid for what I enjoyed doing. Aside from that I thought I’d become an animator or make comic books somehow magically.

I knew Adrock before, and I was friends with Scilken and Adam Trese who were all in the Young and the Useless together with Adrock. They were all older than me by a few years, but I remember hearing Cooky Puss at a friend’s house, and I loved it. That record was genius; it had the music from Buffalo Gals, which I loved, and it even had a crank call to Carvel Ice Cream! The combination of Hip-Hop, punk, and comedy is still my favorite record they made. The fact that I wound up designing the puppets for a crank-call puppet show, Crank Yankers, is totally coincidental.

See our full Todd James profile here. 


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