Bun B's Rap Coloring and Activity Book Signing and Coloring Contest
Sep 21 1–2pm
2110 Portsmouth St.
Shea Serrano is a straight-up hustler. If the local soccer team didn’t already bear the name, people would probably refer to him as the Houston dynamo. Those who have followed his career over the past few years know that he is not only a brilliant writer with a unique sense of wit, but also a hard-working creative, always churning out something new. This week saw the release of his biggest work to date, Bun B’s Rap Coloring and Activity Book.
Serrano cut his chops as Houston’s premiere hip-hop critic over the past several years, reviewing shows, interviewing rappers, and holding court over the Rap Round Table at the Houston Press. Since then, he has become a contributor at Grantland, LA Weekly, MTV, XXL, Vice, and Myspace, among others. The internet is littered with touches of his sense of humor, from a smattering of Tumblr blogs to his initial illustrations for the coloring book, from his time-stamped rap concert reviews to his astoundingly prolific Twitter feed, @SheaSerrano. This week is the first time you can physically purchase a piece of Shea’s brilliance, though.
Serrano’s first book didn’t initially start out as a coloring book. “When [Bun B] told me he wanted to do a book, I thought we were going to do a UGK thing,” Serrano says. “But he didn't want to do a serious book, he wanted it to be sort of silly and funny.”
Serrano’s reputation earned him the call. Still, he was a little nervous when the idea to turn it into a coloring book finally struck. “I thought [Bun B] was going to shoot it down real quick, but he was all for it.” That initial idea turned into the now-famous Tumblr (http://rapcoloringbook.tumblr.com) that earned them the book deal, bringing about 42 glorious pages of rap-related coloring joy and activities.
Serrano’s artistic side has familial roots. “I've been drawing since I was a kid,” he explains. “My dad is a really good artist - he's a legit artist, so I guess I picked up some of that. I've always drawn silly comic book-y type stuff.” When his mom surprised him with a Wacom electronic drawing tablet a couple years ago, Serrano committed to trying to draw something every day – or at least every few days. “My kids like to do it too, so we’ll sit down together,” he says.
In fact, his twin boys (affectionately referred to as Boy A and Boy B on Twitter) are to blame for one of the pages of the book. “There's a page with Lil Wayne, and he's skateboarding. It's like a cut-out: you cut holes in his legs and put your fingers through there so that he can ride around like he's on a skateboard. [The boys] didn't know Lil Wayne, but they came up with it. That's probably my favorite page, because they were so involved in that one,” says Serrano, with a hint of pride.
When asked about the hardest aspect of putting the book together, Serrano immediately mentions securing the licenses to use each of the rappers’ images in the book. Working with 42 different rappers, not to mention their handlers and managers, was quite the task. “Rappers aren't that fond of signing stuff,” he says. “Plus, these are guys that are natural businessmen – they're not too inclined to say, ‘oh yeah, here, let me help you make money off of my face.’” Most came around quickly, however – as Serrano says, “It’s a cool thing to see yourself as a coloring page,”
For rappers who didn’t initially respond, Serrano would draw up a test page and send it over. “That happened with Common,” he states. “Before that, they were kind of ignoring me. Then they saw it and thought it was pretty cool and different.”
Alas, some rappers were eventually excluded due to missing the paperwork deadline, while others, including Vanilla Ice, were eventually cut for space. The surplus of those that agreed may hint at a second volume to come.
Andre 3000 (of Outkast) was Serrano’s white whale. “We couldn't work out the scheduling to get his paperwork in time,” Serrano says. “He's a very stylish guy, so I wanted to do some sort of activity with that.”
On Saturday, Cactus Music will host a book signing at noon. “There’ll be a Bun B coloring contest, and the winner - I'll take a picture with them and draw them as a coloring page,” says Serrano. When asked about the soundtrack, he simply states, “We'll probably play a lot of UGK.”