Painter Justin Bua and the Legends of Hip Hop

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Piano Man by Justin Bua

LA-based Painter Justin Bua – or just BUA as he is known to most – grew up in New York City during a time many look back on fondly – when hip hop began, breakdancing ruled and graffiti was everywhere. But then again, there was also a good chance of getting mugged.

He tells us how all of those things influenced his artistic style –which he dubs “distorted urban realism” in his Guest DJ Project set. Here’s a sample:

Bua on KCRW’s Guest DJ Project by KCRW

You’ve probably seen BUA’s work before, most likely “The D.J.” which is one of the best selling posters of the last 100 years.

DJ by Justin Bua

BUA combined fine art with hip hop in a way that is uniquely his and continues to tell his stories in different ways, including a recently released book called Legends of Hip Hop. It includes paintings of the top 50 most influential figures in the genre and stories on how they affected him personally.

Snoop by Bua (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

We talked for a long time after his taping about what it takes to be an artist and he said “learning how to draw is a very painful thing, it’s like being an Olympic athlete”. I found that very interesting, as well as his pick for who he thinks is the best artist of all time: Rembrandt.


p.s: He’ll be doing a signing for his book this Thursday at Amoeba!

BUA Book signing
Amoeba Records, FREE Admission
6400 Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028

Justin Bua Guest DJ Project Track List

1 – It’s Just Begun – The Jimmy Castor Bunch
2 – Paid In Full – Eric B. & Rakim
3 – Planet Rock – Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force
4 – Paint It Black – The Rolling Stones
5 – It’s Like That – Run-D.M.C