Kool Keith, Hollywood
Drit & Bank, Baltimore
DJ Spooky, Hollywood
Mos Def, Hollywood
Dog Fashion Disco, Hollywood
In 1989, Carlos Batts went to see Fugazi. It was his first time. He took his brand new Pentax K 1000 camera with him. Just 16 at the time, his destiny was clear. He was going to photograph the artists, the bands, the fans, the stage. He was going for his and it was going down, and for the next two and a half decades, Batts made his way through a little corner of the world that resonates and reverberates in the roots, in the tree, and in the leaves, AfroPunk. Where it all began. Do it yourself, like Umi says, shine your light on the world.
On October 22, 2013, Carlos Batts died at the age of 40. The shock of his sudden passing left a tremendous void, and all we have is what remains. Photographs, stories, memories. A life in art. The art of life. Carlos Batts used the camera to celebrate, to learn, to record, to observe. His photographs take us “In The Pit” as he named the series of photographs that began at that fateful Fugazi show.
Never before published, The Click has been given exclusive access to the Carlos Batts archive of scans that Batts dubbed “Raw Version Volume #1.” His notes reveal, “This is the first time I'm sharing these images from my archive – in their raw form, using both film and digital photography. Some images have been manipulated without the use of Photoshop nothing has been retouched or airbrushed.”
Batts has always had a penchant for the dark, for the raw, live, visceral vibes of art, music, and life. And though his photographs are silent, they come alive. There is a wild intensity that vibrates through the eye and echoes in the mind, and though you may not know the song, you can still hear the drums. You can see the sounds, a synesthesia of sorts, as photographers are charged to translate one sense into the others. It is in the silence that we can feel his truth, his love, admiration, and respect for the roots, the tree, the leaves of rock and roll, of the art birthed of blues and pure soul.
Batts remembers, “I grew up in Baltimore listening to club music, metal/hardcore and hip hop. Having spent countless hours blasting Minor Threat and Fugazi's Margin Walker, getting the opportunity to shoot Fugazi was an intimate gift for me. And after that life-changing experience, nothing could stop me from shooting my favorite bands – in my style. It became a passion that ultimately mutated into a career that put me in some intensely unique environments from coast to coast.
“The bands that spoke to me were the bands that were always doing something special. These were the instigators and innovators that continuously knocked me on my ass and reminded me what it meant to truly be alive. These bands were breaking down barriers and paving a new road for artists. And I had to document what was happening.
“I went to hardcore punk metal shows in the Baltimore, DC, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, PA during the 90’s and rappers on the West Coast in the early 2000’s. I went to a lot of hardcore shows in Baltimore including Next Step Up, 25 ta Life, Fury of FIVE, Gut Instinct, Biohazard, Fugazi, and Krack. When I started coming to Los Angeles in the mid 90’s, I was introduced to Guerrilla One and Seventh Letter Crew. I went to Hip Hop shows with the likes of Kool Keith, Tash, Xzibit, Snoop, Cypress Hill, DJ Muggs, and Likwit Crew. It was full on adrenaline taking pictures of bands/rappers going to shows getting in the pit.”
The beauty of photography is its ability to make the ephemeral eternal, taking but a fraction of time and extending it into the present, indefinitely, so long as the image is alive. For it lives, and it breathes, in each of us. And it is in this way that Carlos Batts is forever. CBATTSFLY.
Candiria, Los Angeles
Carlos Batts, 1973-2013
Rest in Peace Brother