Messing Up History with 'Jamel the Time Traveling B-Boy'
We interviewed creator and artist Jayson Musson about the show and he answered entirely in images.
In the webseries The Adventures of Jamel: the Time-Traveling B-Boy, board members of the Illuminati accidentally send a modern-day, Wild Style–idolizing B-boy (Kangol hat, Adidas jumpsuit, and all) back in time, where he unwittingly changes the course of history again and again. In the intro montage alone, we see Jamel photobombing the moment Martin Luther King Jr. met Malcolm X, crashing the Last Supper, and dashing through tanks in Tiananmen Square.
Created by artist Jayson Musson, known for his Coogie sweater canvases, satirical paintings, and online alter ego Hennessy Youngman, the series is a hilarious and refreshing take on revisionist history, a genre that could use a break from Quentin Tarantino's death grip. In episode two, released this week, our B-boy hero (played by James III) ends up at Ford's Theater on the night of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Jamel, not realizing what year it is, befriends John Wilkes Booth after the President is a dick to him. When Booth pulls out a gun, Jamel convinces him that a dance-off is the best way to settle beef ("We put down the steel, and we keep it real"). Fingers crossed that in a future episode, he'll make a cameo at the moment Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil, or prevent Hendrix from ODing.
Since this isn't a traditional time travel narrative, and Musson is a master at messing with images and re-appropriating pop culture (from the webseries' intro, to his Too Black for B.E.T. series, to his Instagram account), we thought it'd be fun to do an interview with him in which he could only answer using images found online. Here's what he sent us.
VICE: What do you consider to be the golden age of hip-hop?
Who would Jamal consider to be the greatest rapper of all time?
But, for me, my favorite rapper is:
Was there a particular pop culture moment or an event in your own life that inspired this webseries?
Who inspired the Illuminati characters from episode one?
What historical moments would be too real or intense to include in this comedy series?
How has the response to the series been so far?
What reactions were you expecting from your past fanbase?
In the intro montage of the show, which historical revision with Jamel added is your favorite?
If Jamel could have a sidekick or partner-in-time-traveling-crime from pop culture, who would it be?
Do you consider this webseries a part of your oeuvre as a fine artist, or is it a whole new beast for you?
Would you like to see the webseries expanded into an longer television program?
How do you think Quentin Tarantino would respond to the first episode?
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