We’re about to begin what is easily the most production heavy and secretive project my gallery has ever put together. Over a year ago we started working with Sony Pictures to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Ghostbusters with a traveling art show, and tonight we kick it all off in New York City with an opening reception. The show features over 100 pieces of art inspired by the classic film, 4 collaborative shirts with some of my favorite clothing lines and even a 7 foot sculpture of Slimer being trapped. It’s epic, especially for a super fan like myself.

In addition to the opening reception tonight at 69 Leonard St. from 7-10 PM tonight, we also will be releasing small quantities of select prints online, and that starts now. You can purchase the directly above Mark Englert screenprint, “The Flowers Are Still Standing,” which glows in the dark, as it JUST went on sale here:


This is the first of many releases, so stay tuned to our Twitter, Facebook or main home page for all the info you need moving forward.

Listen, this traveling exhibit is a big deal. As a kid, I dressed as a Ghostbuster for Halloween. My mom made a proton pack out of a shoebox and lightswitch. There’s even a 30-year-old living room music video I made my mom record of me lip synching the Ray Parker Jr. theme song. I LOVED, and LOVE, this movie. It is an honor to tribute it after 3 decades of standing the test of time. I hope you can celebrate with me at any of the stops. And New York, let’s cross the streams this week.


Hot Karl - Spaced Invaders

There’s a lot in my early songs that sounds weird to me. Being 19 years old, sort of thrown into this radio contest where I’m quickly being talked about all over LA, but still studying every night for my USC tests, made for a weird experience. The one thing I realize quickest when listening to songs from my early demo, like this week’s #HotKarlWednesday pick Spaced Invaders, is my voice. When I first started, and for most of my Roll Call run, I seem to be using a weird Rodney Dangerfield twang. A little deeper. A little more pulling at my collar saying “No respect.” It also made for a lot of deep breaths and rushing through lyrics. Once I started to actually make an album, I fell more into my natural voice, which in the end could’ve been my downfall, as it also sounded like the guy who Stan idolized.

Spaced Invaders is more of a creative writing project than a rap song. Most of my life, since elementary school at least, I had been writing essays, somewhat comical and around 3-5 minutes long. When I wanted to do a story rap, I wanted it to be different than anything than had ever been recorded before. And I made this one so weird, we usually didn’t even play it when meeting with labels. I guess we just never knew how to introduce the “gets abducted by aliens, only to be raped and released song” to executives. I guess I was just happy no one could predict what was going to happen.

We’d perform this song live a bunch and have our friend Daniel “Fitz” Fitzgibbons come out in green tighty whiteys, plastic intergalactic hands and an alien mask to stalk me, until the sexual assault was actually recreated on stage. We did it at a University of Arizona frat party and it went over like a screening of Beaches at a kegger. I still loved it. 

This seems like a terrible mix, and it has some of those classic pops that show up in a lot of my early 2000’s stuff now, but it gets the idea across. “Where is David Duchovny now?” makes me laugh still. This is a really rare song in the forgettable HK library, but it really did happen. 

Another week, another #HotKarlWednesday. Oh, and I repurchased hotkarl.com and just directed here. So, life is a flat circle.

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NEW YORK CITY - My art gallery has travelled to your town, in collaboration with Sony Pictures, to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of one of the greatest films of ALL-TIME, Ghostbusters.

THIS SATURDAY NIGHT, we open up a traveling art show, with original paintings, limited edition prints, sculptures and apparel - AND IT IS EPIC. You’re the first stop, so you have to represent and come say hi.

The gallery is at 69 Leonard St, near the famous firehouse from the film. The opening reception is from 7-10 PM. We will be open every day through April 26th from 11-7 PM. We’ve even teamed up with Johnny Cupcake, Rebel8, LRG and Homage to make Ghostbusters shirts that are soooooo good.

More details can be found here - http://g1988.tumblr.com/post/82724173383/this-saturday-night-gallery1988-will-begin-its

Busting makes me feel good.

Hot Karl - Dear Natalie Portman (Skit)

When I was in elementary school I was cast as a featured extra in a music video for the band Cutting Crew. It was for the song, “I’ve Been In Love Before,” a painfully underrated slow song from the 80’s that I can still rock if a shuffle brings it onto my iPhone. Now you know Cutting Crew for a totally different song: the mega-smash “I Just Died (In Your Arms Tonight).” It was the band’s first US release, and it hit #1 almost immediately. The song in which I was participating in the video for was to be their follow-up. The truth is, it never made a splash, and stateside we never really heard from the band again.

At the video shoot I remember talking to the lead singer, Nick, about their success and he seemed anything but excited. He explained that the outright explosion that was their first song is a “kiss of death.” He said that “I Just Died (In Your Arms Tonight)” was something they came up with in 10 minutes, and were terrified because of that. He warned me, and predicted his own downfall, but saying “Watch what you make for fun, it may just be the thing people remember.”

I recorded “Dear Natalie Portman” while drunk at Matty’s house. We had just made a deal with the clothing company FiveFour (then run out of a USC dorm room, now a million dollar company) to print up mix CDs of my Interscope music illegally to distribute amongst fans who had been waiting patiently for new songs. I figured I needed some intermissions/skits, so I went to Matt’s house to just record us talking on a 4-track he had. An hour later, and a bunch of beers in, we convinced Amir, his roommate and extremely talented guitar player, to just come in a play a riff. Matty then hit buttons on a drum machine he had no idea how to operate. With that “beat,” I wrote a weird, graphic love song to actress Natalie Portman, way before she became a humor rap muse on SNL. It took maybe 3 minutes to write, which isn’t very shocking once you hear it. We put it on the CD as an interlude, and assumed people would just skip it. Instead, they gravitated towards it.

I think I get more people reminding of this interlude than any other song I ever wrote (with the NBA Live song maybe in a dead heat). It’s just so dumb and I am so intoxicated. Recently, rapper, and all-around good guy, OnCue admitted to being a Hot Karl fan in the past. He asked our mutual friend Shelby Fero to request a copy of “Dear Natalie Portman” from me, since he couldn’t find his file. Although I never hit #1 (or even #6001) with it, it’s begun to feel like my “I Just Died (In Your Arms Tonight)”, and I’ve grown to be OK with it. Again, I only have shitty audio of this, because I just can’t find a fresh copy, so that’s what OnCue got. Maybe if I went digging in storage I could do better, but for now this is what we will live with. 

I was once told Natalie Portman heard this while in college. I guess an HK fan played it for her at a party. Although I could never confirm that, I’m happy to pretend it’s true. Don’t judge me on this, but let’s still celebrate it. It’s #HotKarlWednesday. See you again next week.

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I remember the first time I saw the TV show Adventure Time. I was flipping through channels, aimlessly trying to find something that would hold my attention, when I saw the title on my channel guide. I had heard a friend or two mention it in passing, but still assumed, without ever seeing it, that it was solely for children and being 34 - well, it was time to grow up. I thought though, why not at least see what this cartoon is all about? Just for a second. Nothing nuts. A quick glance. And when I did finally feast my eyes on the magic that is Adventure Time, I not only realized how incredible the show is, but realized I should stop assuming what 34-year-olds SHOULD be watching.

The imagination and boundaries pushed during this show are outstanding. It works on so many levels, entertaining both adults and children (and man children) so effortlessly. It’s universe is vast and yet comfortably small.  It has clear messages and morals, yet grade A fart jokes. It doesn’t only ride the line between substance and fluff, it makes fun of you for even believing a line like that exists.

Over the past few years, I’ve turned so many people onto Adventure Time and each of them give me the same pessimism and doubt initially. It isn’t until they sit and watch a few episodes (now on Netflix Instant) that they fully realize the the show isn’t just eye candy, but it’s also a gateway to your own childhood. Like Ren & Stimpy before it, it’s for a wide range of ages - with different reactions for each.

I know watching Adventure Time reminds me of being a latchkey kid, coming home everyday from school and watching my favorite cartoons and live-action sitcoms. It was my constant that kept me a good kid. That was my world, for a few hours at least. This feels like that type of tradition to me and I miss that dearly.

Sure, I watched Breaking Bad religiously every week, but it made my blood pressure rise and had deep thinking mysteries. It may be the best TV show of all-time. But on the other side of the Peabody Award, Adventure Time makes me smile and forget I have a mortgage. And there’s something to be said about that.

We are honored to be working with Cartoon Network and clothing brand ROOK, to put together this art show tribute to Adventure Time. The artists, each and every artist involved, knocked it out of the park, creating paintings, limited edition prints and sculptures inspired by the show’s genius. Each piece reflects the show and the excitement that comes hand-in-hand with being an Adventure Time fan. I can’t wait till you see all of it. Also, the exhibit marks the first chance for people to buy the capsule collection from ROOK and Adventure Time, which is prettttty great.

You can join us in Los Angeles TONIGHT,  Thursday April 3rd, from 7-10 PM, at G1988 (West) at 7308 Melrose Ave. You NEED to RSVP by 2 PM though, by emailing rsvpgallery1988@gmail.com or you can’t get in. The show will run through April 6th, open everyday 11-6 PM. And all the artwork will be online Friday afternoon at gallery1988.com, available for purchase.

Listen, don’t be an awful 34-year-old. Remember what it was like to be excited and lose yourself in a TV program that just made you giggle and stress free. Check out Adventure Time, and check out our art show this weekend. And just don’t pay your mortgage (OK, don’t do that).

Hot Karl - In My World

The day after I left Interscope in 2002/2003, I found myself somewhat ready to start rapping again, this time with a focus on personally having fun. I learned quickly that at the end of the day, everything is going to come down to how I feel. Not how people respond to my music, or what happens on the industry politics side. My own happiness would basically rank above everything else when the dust settled.

I ended up at producer OneEye’s house soon after my release became official and he played me this beat. The sample spoke to me, sort of setting up what I wanted my world to be like. This isn’t a song, as much as a mixtape track where I just got to be myself with a forgettable hook. This is Matty’s favorite Hot Karl song ever, which I can’t really explain, but I do reference a bunch of ridiculous shit in it (I want “hip hop’s Charlie Kaufman” on my tombstone) and I do sound more passionate than usual - so I can still listen to it too. In another universe, I released an EP of like 6 songs where they all have the same vibe and hunger as “In My World.” Not sure anyone would’ve bought it in that universe either.

The day has closed on another #HotKarlWednesday. One of my favorite HK songs. See you next week.

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My art gallery, Gallery1988, was commissioned by Sony Pictures, to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of the greatest comedies of all-time, Ghostbusters. Sooooo, I will be traveling, along with an incredible art show of paintings, limited edition prints and apparel, to NY, LA, Chicago and Comic-Con. These are the first two stops and if you like this movie at all (and if you don’t - jump off a cliff) make sure to stop by and say hello. You will thank me for it.

For more info, visit Ghostbusters30th.com.

It’s that time again! Baby Talk at the NerdMelt Theater. April 5th at 7PM. Join me, Dan Levy, TJ Miller, Jerry O’Connell and Ingrid Haas as we talk to a fucking child. It’s only $8 to go if you pre buy now!

It’s that time again! Baby Talk at the NerdMelt Theater. April 5th at 7PM. Join me, Dan Levy, TJ Miller, Jerry O’Connell and Ingrid Haas as we talk to a fucking child. It’s only $8 to go if you pre buy now!


Hot Karl - SFV

If Caliente Karlito was the song that got me the million dollar record deal at Interscope, SFV was the song that made Jimmy Iovine feel good about his decision. This song was the second track on my demo and was somewhat promising for the label, since it had a completely different vibe and tried to prove I had more than just the fake Latin song in me. When I recorded it 15 years ago, I was fresh out of my hometown Calabasas, CA, a suburb now famous because of the Kardashians. It’s a pretty standard suburb, filled with very rich white people, and being middle class and from the nearby, slightly less extravagant, Woodland Hills, gave me a different perspective on it. This kind of reminiscing was fresh in my mind. So I recorded  a somewhat tongue in cheek song about my hometown called “SFV,” standing for “San Fernando Valley.” I genuinely never thought anyone would hear it, which is why there are so many specific references in it. I stayed away from saying any names, but most people I grew up with knew who/what i was talking about. Once a year (actually just yesterday) someone from my hometown brings this up and thanks me for it. Looking back, it’s shooting fish in a barrel and all kind of hacky, so this is never a song I play for anyone, or think about, in 2014.

This track got real popular on Napster, even to the point that a kid in the Midwest who threatened to shoot up his high school (he didn’t), mentioned it in an essay he wrote for English class the week before his threat. He sincerely missed the point of the song, as it was more an expose on the weird shit that happens in cities like mine, not so much an outsider’s manifesto on how to take it down. I was just as much part of it, and I say that. Cops called to tell me of the connection and basically hear my side of the song, and I still don’t fully understand why they called or how they got my number.

It’s produced by Space Boy Boogie X, like Karlito, and it features K-Max (sp?) from the LA group DKLA. This is by the far the corniest/cheesiest version of the song, with the Timex Social Club rip, but weirdly it’s also is the most compelling. We re-did this track maybe 6 times, and one ended up on my album with comedian Reggie Watts on the hook - but it never connected quite like this demo version. I think at 19 years old, it was just more real in me. You can hear the passion in it. As the years went on, it meant less and less to me. I just didn’t care as much to look backwards, but held onto the song.

Again, I have shit audio for this one, but I guess that’s how life works. At one point something means a ton to you and your career, then when you look back - it’s quality shitty. It’s 818 ya’ll for this week’s #HotKarlWednesday. See you next week.

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Our newest exhibit at the art gallery I co-own, Gallery1988, is so insane and complex that I wanted to explain it a bit here.

Artist Andrew DeGraff creates these original paintings, one of a kind pieces, that act as detailed maps from movies, chronicling each characters every move and every location the viewer sees. You see, each line, colored differently, represents a different character’s journey, turn after turn. Andrew watches these films, dozens of times while painting, to make sure he starts and ends everyone in the correct place, all while also rendering every location seen in the film. It’s one of the most intense undertakings we’ve seen at G1988.

Above you can see his new paintings inspired by Star Trek: Wrath of Khan, The Shining and The Princess Bride. Look at the Shining’s hedge maze and the Princess Bride mountain. SO GOOD. Just beautiful work that takes him a very long time to perfect.

The exhibit, which will also feature a mammoth Lord of the Rings piece, opens this Saturday night at G1988 (East) at 7021 Melrose Ave from 7-10 PM. All the pieces will be online the next day at gallery1988.com. I’ll be there (*badly draws a line from my house to the gallery*).

SUNDAY everything becomes real.

SUNDAY everything becomes real.

Hot Karl - Caliente Karlito

When I was 19 years old, and found myself the winner of a daily LA radio contest for battle rapping, I knew I should probably make my own songs. Up until that point, I would basically hang out with my my college friend, Brian Sanchez, who lived above me, and he’d play instrumentals on his turntables, with me practicing the whole night. We weren’t making beats of our own, and I wasn’t writing hooks or bridges that resembled any song structure. But within a few days of walking away from my reign on the Roll Call, I started working with producers like DJ Lethal, DJ Homicide & Cheapshot on actual full thought out songs for a demo. These early tracks that I recorded are what got me my astronomical record deal. The one that sealed the deal was a gimmick that Jimmy Iovine once told me would sell millions of copies - “Caliente Karlito.” 

In 2000, the latin craze was on it’s way back into popular culture. Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin & Christina Aguilera were all atop the charts and most everyone in music was talking about a Spanish resurgence. I had recently had a meeting with rap exec who suggested I meet with DJ Pooh. He supposedly had an idea for me, after hearing Hot Karl on the radio, where I would dress as a pimp at all times. I’d also be surrounded by girls…always. I ignored that meeting, but I loved the gusto in which this terrible idea was pitched to me. They were committed to me seeing Pooh, because he had a vision. It didn’t matter how awful this vision was - they wanted me to jump into this thing as hard as they were. I wondered if I could parlay this type of enthusiastic request onto another trend - specifically Latin music.

As a Jewish kid, I knew that pretending to be Mexican in order to sell records made me laugh and was “trolling” before that term even existed, but it wasn’t until I came up with the hook, on the toilet, that I thought, “This might be the one.” A producer named Space Boy Boogie X, who I originally met through Cheapshot, produced this beat and obviously it was perfect for this dumb idea. A few weeks after we finished this, I was eating a grilled salmon at Jimmy Iovine’s mansion and Caliente Karlito was the reason I was there, negotiating numbers I never expected to say out loud. It’s my song, piggybacking on a trend I have no right claiming. That’s all you need to know.

This is a shit quality version, and sadly the only one I have. The pops and stuff? I have no idea why or how that happened, but that’s what I have almost 15 years later. This thing was ALL Over Napster, especially since a few people put the name “EMINEM” in front of it.

Every once in a while, people still bring this song up. At one point, after I signed with Jimmy, he suggested I meet with Timbaland to work out a new version of the song. That never happened, but it always made me laugh to imagine pitching this to Timabland and telling him I came up with the hook while pooping.

I did end up meeting Enrique and he quickly told me this was his favorite rap song ever. That weirdly meant a lot to me, since I always liked when the dissed became the celebrators. Showed a sense of humor he easily could’ve lost amongst self-importance and yes men. For years, even close friends of mine called me Karlito and it all stemmed from the first full song I ever wrote. This clearly had hopes of striking a hit, but in reality was my shit attempt to cash in on the Latin craze in a satirical way. Mucho levels.

I hope you enjoy where it all started, the track that forever changed my life. And stick around - #HotKarlWednesday might just bring you full circle. 

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Hot Karl - Goin Crazy

I hardly ever had a message. As a rapper I was pretty much joking 99% of the time. Looking back, I regret that. I didn’t really know my voice as a rapper, or really as a human for that matter. I would never say I had a “point of view,” but rather an angle with jokes. I wanted to change that once I left Interscope. I wouldn’t say I ever nailed that either. Not until I started writing jokes on Twitter about 5 years ago and writing more long form on my blog, all while simultaneously going through my father’s cancer, did I start to actually stand for anything. That was just insecurity. If I could go back, I’d trade in some of the laughs for actual glimpses into me. 

Goin’ Crazy is from 2002 and has moments of what I wish happened more. Produced by Mayru, the first verse addresses typical rap music, second takes on my time at a major label and the third gets political. I was early on the Bush conspiracy theories, so what now sounds like played out False Flag hashtags was somewhat controversial 12 years ago. The end of the song where I sing is funny to me, but also kind of a bummer that I couldn’t just let it sit as a song without a real joke. I always needed to be in on the joke, and sometimes it’s better to just ignore being the cool guy, and actually be genuine. Regrets there.

You hear more of the real me on the song than mostly any other track (only “I’ve Heard,” produced by 9th Wonder is more personal), so I hold this one closer than most. Hope you enjoy hearing my frustrations in music form, and another week of #HotKarlWednesday. Till next week.

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I hope I can do these pieces justice.

Painter Andrew DeGraff creates intensely detailed maps for classic films, almost like infographics, where not only do you see the entire movie’s landscape, but also each character’s path is tracked. The lines throughout the map are color-coded, each representing a different character’s actions perfectly. Andrew sits and watches the film, chronicling each move and turn exactly, and the work is just incredible. 

Above are all three original Star Wars movies, played out as art piece maps. These take Andrew forever to make, which is understandable, and they are just so good.

My gallery, G1988, has released a new edition of giclee (fancy word for archival digital) prints for these images, each one available in an edition of 50, for only $60. Each one is signed and numbered by the artist.

Paths of Empirehttp://nineteeneightyeight.com/products/andrew-degraff-paths-of-empire-15x18-print

Paths of Returnhttp://nineteeneightyeight.com/products/andrew-degraff-paths-of-return-15x18-print

Don’t sleep on these at all. They’re incredible and person, and the one thing we’ve always wanted to do at the gallery, is sell art for when friends come over. They’ll like it when they first see it, but once they figure out what it is - they’ll have a whole new appreciation. Andrew’s work does that perfectly.

Tomorrow night, Friday the 7th, at 7308 Melrose Ave in LA, we open VelvetMania, an art exhibit that I collaborated with artist Bruce White on. He created one-of-a-kind portraits ON BLACK VELVET of 40 of my favorite 80’s and 90’s wrestlers. It’s like if a museum said, “Let me have the GREATEST things ever created.” The first 15 people in line, will get a giclee Million Dollar print (seen above), that is both signed and numbered by the artist. The show runs 7-10 PM and Bruce and I will both be there. SEE YOU THERE. 

*rings bell*

Formerly known as the Interscope-signed rapper Hot Karl, writer Jensen Karp owns LA's Gallery1988, hosts a podcast and loves the 1989 Tom Hanks vehicle, "The Burbs." You can follow him @JensenClan88.

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