Visual Orgasm         AdAm melnyk
Visual Orgasm The eArly yeArs of CAnAdiAn GrAffiTi                         AdAm melnyk                     Frontenac House...
Published byFrontenac House Media Ltd.Building B1, Suite 1362451 Dieppe Ave. SWCalgary, Alberta T3E 7K1Text and photograph...
This book is dedicated to my father, who motivated me, encour-aged me and pushed me to complete it. Without him it would n...
Acknowledgements2Fresh; Afex; Akira; Artistik; BenOne; Buddha; Cameo;Chrome; Coder; Conz; Cosoe; Crumb; Dabs; Daser; Daub;...
CONTENTSFOREWORD BY ZEPHYR      11    COSOE        90INTRO BY ADAM MELNYK     13   VIRUS        103ZILON    16            ...
Visual Orgasm
FOREWORDMy first adventure to the land of the Maple Leaf       was completely serious. 3) Discovering that Loom-was equal ...
rusty bike, the benevolent attitude toward graffiti     committed to wiping out graffiti, and utilized a       covers, and...
INTROBY ADAM                                                          The artists featured in this book did not take up   ...
the American spraypaint brand Rustoleum; amaz-           occurring more or less simultaneously in most of         warehous...
montréal
ZILON                           al graf-Zilon is not your typic                        but uniquefiti artist. His simple  ...
17
Zilon, 1982, Montréal                                                                                                     ...
Ottawa
BUDDHA                          about Bud-I did not know much                          him on thedha before searching     ...
out of them at the city. I know it did because they     we did with blue and a white trim and a big ma-            Canada,...
Clockwise from top left: FloorMasters, 1984, Ottawa;Danni, Mode 2 & Pride, 1985, London England;Graffiti by Beat Street Ki...
Graffiti Fest, 1985, Ottawa                                                                                               ...
were the Chrome Angels, Pride, Scribla, Zaki and a                                                                        ...
One quick story about the way things worked at          in the 1970s, I started B-boying in 1982 or 83 but      because I ...
DJ Creeasian and Elder                                                                                                    ...
about building relationships and a lot of times         I really love the fact that it is not just dance but      the firs...
ders. I know the kids are going to be fine so I don’t   ying yang. A lot of parents and elders had given      done a 9-by-...
hoW did you GeT inTo GrAffiTi?                                                                                            ...
30
31
later 1980s I would find the odd attempts, some          I found a tag, Ren, on a pole on Spadina. Kid-C was     painting ...
Daser, 1993the Kensington market and a Ren tag, but this was        Canada’s east coast back then. TCM had a very se-     ...
34
WhAT WAs The feelinG When you Were                     that were any good back then right across Canada.       that’s how ...
186
Clockwise from top left:      Sinex, Vancouver      Sinex, Vancouver      Mouse by Sinex, Vancouver      Sinex, Vancouver ...
INDEX   Graffiti Crews                                               Graffiti Knights, The: 82, 84                        ...
Visual Orgasm: Early Years of Canadian Graffiti
Visual Orgasm: Early Years of Canadian Graffiti
Visual Orgasm: Early Years of Canadian Graffiti
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Visual Orgasm: Early Years of Canadian Graffiti

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Sampler from the book, Visual Orgasm: Early Years of Canadian Graffiti, including the Foreword by Zephyr, Introduction by author Adam Melnyk, Table of Contents, sample chapters and index.

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  • you should call this, 'The Early Years of EASTERN CANADA Graffiti'. Vancouver, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, DO EXIST, you know, and have all had some great writers, going back to when you were a chocolate bar in Daddy's Pocket. Get real.
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Visual Orgasm: Early Years of Canadian Graffiti

  1. 1. Visual Orgasm AdAm melnyk
  2. 2. Visual Orgasm The eArly yeArs of CAnAdiAn GrAffiTi AdAm melnyk Frontenac House Media Ltd.
  3. 3. Published byFrontenac House Media Ltd.Building B1, Suite 1362451 Dieppe Ave. SWCalgary, Alberta T3E 7K1Text and photographs copyright © 2011 by Adam MelnykPrinted and bound in CanadaLibrary and Archives Canada Cataloguing in PublicationLibrary and Archives Canada Cataloguing in PublicationMelnyk, Adam Visual orgasm : graffiti in Canada / Adam Melnyk.Includes index.ISBN 978-1-897181-50-8 1. Graffiti--Canada. 2. Street art--Canada. I. Title.GT3913.15.A2M45 2011 751.7’30971 C2011-906038-8Book and cover design: Epix Design Inc.All rights reserved, including moral rights. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmittedin any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or placedin any information storage retrieval system without permission in writing from the author or publisher, ora licence from The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright), except by a reviewer oracademic who may quote brief passages in a review or critical study.Frontenac House Media gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts for ourpublishing program. We would also like to thank the Government of Alberta Multimedia DevelopmentFund for their support of our publishing program.
  4. 4. This book is dedicated to my father, who motivated me, encour-aged me and pushed me to complete it. Without him it would nothave been possible. It is also dedicated to the graffiti writers wholet me into their lives.
  5. 5. Acknowledgements2Fresh; Afex; Akira; Artistik; BenOne; Buddha; Cameo;Chrome; Coder; Conz; Cosoe; Crumb; Dabs; Daser; Daub;Dedos; Der; Dooer; Dope2; Dstrbo; Dubnut; Duro3; Dzine; Ephx;Ethiks; Evoke; Fatso; Hans Fear; Flow; Galooch; House; Hype;Imp; Kaput; Katie; Kid-C; Kome; Krewz; LaBomba; Lep; Levi; Lisaf-er; Loves; Mark4; Mesa; Joshua Miller; Nazo; Neos; Note; Other;PD; Phsyk; Plas; Ren; Reset; Rove; Sady; Chad Schultz; Sear; Sebo;Sectr; Sinex; Spek; Stack; Stage; Stelth; Syzeo; Tars; Theory; Veks;Virus; Randy Wong; Word; Russell Wyse; Zephyr; Zer; Zilon; Z-lok
  6. 6. CONTENTSFOREWORD BY ZEPHYR 11 COSOE 90INTRO BY ADAM MELNYK 13 VIRUS 103ZILON 16 DEDOS 117BUDDHA 20 Z-LOK 125DASER 29 DOPE2 131SEAR 37 EPHX 135DAUB 45 KREWZ 145DOOER, DUBNUT & THE DEZINE 151PAID IN CRIME CREW 50 WORD 159GHOST 54 NEOS 163REN 61 PD 174LA BOMBA 73 SINEX 183GALOOCH 80 INDEX 188SADY 82
  7. 7. Visual Orgasm
  8. 8. FOREWORDMy first adventure to the land of the Maple Leaf was completely serious. 3) Discovering that Loom-was equal parts unforgettable and forgettable. it had been attending two or three CONSECUTIVE screenings a day, at a local movie theater, of the BY ZEPHYRGroup shows had already been on my “things to film “The Fifth Element”. He mentioned this casu-avoid” list for decades when I received the in- ally, as if it were as normal as farting. Zephyr is known as thvitation to exhibit a painting or two in Toronto. e GraffitiThe appearance of the names “Twist” and “Frost” It was also the week that Princess Diana was killed in Dinosaur. He started doing graf-prompted me to quickly reconsider. Three weeks a car crash, August 31, 1997. That was weird too, but fiti in 1975 and wrote Zephyr forlater I was in Canada. not nearly as weird as Loomit, that fuckin’ nut job. the first time in 1977.The Toronto exhibit was not sponsored by an Being a veteran of the school of hard knocks that He is most known for th e pieces heestablished gallery, but by a 30-something, well- making graffiti in New York City is, Toronto was a painted on the subway trains ofmeaning (but clueless) millionaire that we’ll call cakewalk — pure Nirvana. Alleyways that went on New York in the 70’s an d 80’s. He(for his benefit) Malcolm Chestnut. Highlights (or as far the eye could see were covered with pieces. was featured in two cla ssic graf-lowlights) from that trip include: 1) Painting the The residents seemed to have no problem with the fiti movies Style Wars and Wildback of the gallery from a swaying electric cherry- graffiti, so you could paint in broad daylight. I kid Style, which helped spr ead graf-picker ten meters in the air — believing, the entire you not. fiti world wide.time, that I was going to end up on the pavement He has a mean tag that We dined on falafels, and afterward tagged and is the es-below. Can you say, “Change my diaper?” 2) Lis- sence of style and wh stickered the streets with wild abandon. On a en he isn’ttening to Twist lecture some of the artists about dabbling in graffiti he beat-up bicycle, Twist became king of the city is a lec-the dangers of marijuana. I thought he was joking turer and author. over the course of the weekend. But like Twist’sbefore realizing—much to my amusement—that heSkam, Ren & Zeph by Zephyr, 1999. 11
  9. 9. rusty bike, the benevolent attitude toward graffiti committed to wiping out graffiti, and utilized a covers, and provided us all with a very importantin Toronto was not made to last. broad variety of illegal measures to try and do so. book.My next trip to Canada was for a Toronto tattoo While future trips to Canada included, among With extensive coverage of graffiti created in Theconvention. I got to the hotel and dropped my other things, freight adventures with local legend States and Western Europe, it is long past highbags. I was itching to paint, but pissed because Kwest, and walls with Bacon and EGR, the piece time that the extraordinary painters of Canada,I wanted to get in touch with Skam, but I didn’t de resistance of my Canada adventures remains and their distinctly impressive handiwork, gethave a phone number for him. I walked out of the my summer 2006 trip to Calgary. On that trip I their due.hotel and headed down Queen Street. I walked was shown incredible love at the two talks I gave, So kick back, put your feet up, and enjoy thisthree blocks, and lo and behold; there was Skam— and at clandestine painting sites too—threatening book. This is not a book to just place on the shelfwalking right toward me! At that moment I knew growls from wild coyotes notwithstanding. When and/or the collection next to Subway Art. It’s athat Canada had some kind of spacey magic crys- asked on a morning television show what I liked book to peruse, scrutinize and absorb. Fully. Andtal shit going on—a notion later confirmed in Cal- about Calgary, my answer was simple: “The people when you’ve read this book, a bunch of times,gary when I met an amazing lady named “Boots”, here are smart.” cover to cover, look for me in Canada. Because,but that’s a story for another day. Maybe. The amazing collection of indigenous Canadian plainly put, Canada is so damn fun. Oh, I almostOn that second trip to Canada, Skam, Wysper, graffiti you are holding in your hands is the result forgot. When you see me, make sure to ask meMeats, Ren and I painted up a storm. On one mis- of years of documentation by Adam, a truly hum- about “Boots”. We’ll talk …sion near Simcoe Street, Skam and Wysper had to ble, righteous guy who I’m proud to call a friend. —ZEPHYRleave early and planned on leaving me to finish No one else has devoted the time and effort to New York Cityup. They got a big laugh out of my public display of chronicle, for decades, the handiwork of Canada’spanic. I was pretty concerned I’d have a hard time aerosol artisans like Beast-man has. After hostingconvincing the local constables that the wall was the site Visual Orgasm for years, he has now effec-being improved by the application of my name to tively put a binding on it, pasted it between twoit. But Skam assured me that the local policemanwas a friend of his, even a fan, and that his sonwas actually a graffiti writer. Having been shot at Zephyr, New Yorkfor painting graffiti in New York City, I appreciatedToronto’s benevolent vibe A LOT.Canada, around the turn of the millennium, was alot more fun than New York City to me, and Amer-ica in general — particularly during the period I’llrefer to as “The Horror Years,” or The Bush Presi-dency. If it were not bad enough that America hada psycho in the Whitehouse, we also had a psychoas mayor of New York (Rudolph Giuliani), who was 12
  10. 10. INTROBY ADAM The artists featured in this book did not take up ment, is everlasting. Sure people will say: why graffiti to challenge the idea of property, and in don’t they do something more productive insteadMELNYK the 1980s the idea of fame and recognition was of writing on someone’s property? But if life was less evident than today. Often artists came across just that simple then we wouldn’t have rebellion this unique art form by travelling to the United against the norm in any context. Graffiti is a way States, or learning of it through the media or word that individuals do what they want, where they of mouth. Something intrinsic to this new sub- want, how they want. This type of freedom can be culture pulled them irresistibly to learn about it, scary to most of society. develop it, passionately immerse themselves in The challenge of preserving an artform such as it, and create a movement that has grown across this one is one of the main reasons for making this the country. They are the ones who took that first book. Compiling photographs of graffiti art from Graffiti – love it or hate it, enjoy it or despise it. step with that previously unknown artistic tool, the 1980s and preserving them in a book is es- Most people have a hard time understanding graf- the spraycan. The intrigue with graffiti has now sential to knowing the history of this subculture. fiti, perhaps because of the challenge it presents spread around the world. It was inevitable; it was With the internet it is easier to keep these im- to the concept of personal property. Everyone only a matter of time. ages from disappearing, but over time the physi- learns from a young age that if something is not It is entirely appropriate that Zephyr, who first cal photograph can easily disappear, fade, get yours then you don’t touch it. This goes as far back created graffiti in New York in 1975 and is recog- stained, folded, tattered, or otherwise rendered as the year you were born, being told constantly nized universally not only as an early pioneer but unusable. It was a challenge trying to dig up old to give back toys that don’t belong to you. As you also as one of the great masters of the artform, has photographs but that is why having them featured grow up you learn to control your property, ob- written the Foreword for this book. Zephyr was in this book is so important. Commemorating how tain more property, build your wealth. a part of the heyday of painting subways in New graffiti started in Canada and showcasing the men Just as children develop ideas of property and York and was featured in the most famous graffiti and women who created it is the main purpose of wealth, they also acquire an understanding of movies, Style Wars and Wild Style. Now the guys this book. what it means to be well known, even famous. who watched him in Style Wars in the 1980s got If finding the photographs was a challenge, track- Professional athletes, movie stars, musicians, the opportunity to paint with him in Canada in the ing down the graffiti writers themselves could be doctors or police officers all achieve recognition, 2000s. In graffiti it is essential to know your histo- equally daunting. I compiled this book over an sometimes in overwhelming measure. And while ry and that is why a book like this is so important. 8-year period; it has been a long journey but see- most people do not make graffiti a career, simply More than virtually any other subculture, graffiti ing the photographs and meeting the artists has being involved can bring you gratifying levels of has an almost microscopic lifespan, ranging from been the best part. I wanted this book to be as recognition. The fame is often limited strictly to just a few hours to a small number of years, al- comprehensive as possible about the history of the subculture, but you still get acknowledged for though, miraculously, some of the artwork shown Canadian graffiti, though that is easier said than the creative work you do. Quality of work is es- in this book has done the unthinkable and lasted done, and there are a few artists I could not con- sential for gaining peer respect, but – given the 15+ years. It is hard to understand the drive to pro- nect with who played a role in developing graffiti fact that longevity for graffiti is all but unknown duce something that could be gone the following in Canada. One example is Akira, whom I did not – quantity is essential also. day but really it comes down to the fact that the get to interview, who did the first large scale mu- excitement of creation, the feeling of accomplish- ral in Montreal, in 1989, which was sponsored by 13
  11. 11. the American spraypaint brand Rustoleum; amaz- occurring more or less simultaneously in most of warehouses and under bridges are the localesingly, the wall he painted is still up to this day, at the major cities during the 1980s. The subculture where most graffiti is created. Graffiti is marriedW.H.S Gymnasium in that city. spread as graffiti artists travelled around Canada to the urban setting but one element that changed and the United States, meeting other artists and some of that was the popularity of freight trains,All the artists featured in the book bring their bringing back graffiti-related items like spray which enabled graffiti writers in small towns toown flavour and thoughts to this subculture. The caps and magazines. The influence was divided, achieve national fame. Daser and Ren in Ottawamost interesting part is hearing about what they with writers from Vancouver absorbing the styles and Toronto respectively got into it quickly in 1993are doing now: tattoo artists, graphic designers, and techniques of Los Angeles and San Francisco, and Virus and Cosoe did the same in Vancouver.businessmen, social workers, a doctor. A number while writers from Ontario, being closer to New Not only were showcases of graffiti from the Unit-of graffiti artists from the early years are no lon- York, were more readily affected by the ideas of ed States travelling to Canada but now we couldger with us. Galooch and I talked frequently over that city. Ephx, for example, made a name for do the same, both for our own audiences as wellthe internet, but he passed while I was working himself in San Francisco for a couple of years as as for the Americans. Freights are a rolling canvas,on this book. Ghost had a huge influence on the well as painting in New York; and Virus travelled an open gallery where the featured artist changesVictoria graffiti scene and is remembered with across Canada and spent time in Toronto before daily – you don’t have to leave your city to seegreat affection and respect by fellow graffiti writ- landing in Vancouver. As graffiti grew in the early graffiti art from places as far away as Los Angeles,ers in that city and elsewhere. Aero, who is not 90s, graffiti magazines appeared and people began Mexico, Miami and Texas. Freight trains may wellfeatured in the book, was often mentioned as a trading photos of graffiti by postal mail all across be the closest thing to the painted passenger andwriter who tagged all around Vancouver and was the country or even around the world; then, about subway trains that rolled through New York in theone of the first to go all city with his tags. I hope 2008, the internet took over. The website I run 1980s. And just as those are long gone, so are thethis book keeps their memory alive and shows with the same name as this book, http://www. majority of the pieces shown in this book. That isthe role they played in building the foundation visualorgasm.com, has been promoting Canadian why sharing the preserving and the sharing of thefor Canadian graffiti. graffiti since 1998 and is one of the longer-lasting early years of Canadian graffiti is so vital.When I personally got into graffiti in the mid-90s I graffiti websites on the world wide web. The usewas taught to know your history and respect your of the internet to share photos, talk on forumselders – not just in general, like everyone else, and promote your work is common practice to-but in the particular subculture. These are the day. Even though I run a website, however, I agreeones who did it before you and went through the with most people that the internet has changedtrials and tribulations to get the culture to where the feel of graffiti. Rather than wandering aroundit is now. While documenting Canadian graffiti, searching out pieces in the street, people share itwhich I have been doing since 1995, I developed online instead. Is this really just feeding our needan ever-increasing fascination with delving into for instant gratification? The audience has grownthe past to learn where this all creativity came for artists to show off their work, but has it comefrom. I knew about New York and Philadelphia, with a price?where modern graffiti originated, but I knew vir- Graffiti can be a stealthy, dark and literally dirtytually nothing about where it started in Canada. It passion. It takes people to places less travelled,was interesting to learn that it wasn’t like a wave at least by most citizens. Dark alleys, transit lines,across the country but more like spurts of interest 14
  12. 12. montréal
  13. 13. ZILON al graf-Zilon is not your typic but uniquefiti artist. His simple up aroundfaces started popping 0s. He is aMontreal in the mid-8 tist who well-accomplished ar a spray- has always played with -musician can. He now is a painter of art and who does live works of mediums. plays with all types lls people His work certainly pu paid much in who might not have Zilon’s art attention to graffiti. y aggres- installations are ver – exactly sive and in your face ays been. how his graffiti has alw Above: Zilon 1987, Montréal; below: Zilon, 2006 facing page, clockwise from top: Zilon, 2007; Zilon, 2003, Montréal; Zilon, 2009, Montréal When And Why did you sTArT usinG WhAT WAs your relATionship To GrAffiTi sprAypAinT? bACk Then – did you knoW AbouT The movemenT GoinG on in neW york? I use spraypaint like a photographer uses Pola- I was doing graffiti then like I was doing painting roids – I like the roughness and the quickness of or drawings on canvas or paper. It was the heyday the medium, plus the fact it’s portable compared of that form of expression, it was the era of Har- to an arsenal of paint jars and a load of different ing, Basquiat. The only exception for me was that I size paintbrushes. was not fortunate enough to be able to live there, I was quite poor, it was tooo expensive to live by hoW did your TAG Zilon Come AbouT? yourself in NYC. The walls, the bathrooms from The tag Zilon was born at the end of the 70s, around night clubs, the alleyways and abandoned objects 76. It was a crossover between my real family name like old TV sets – these were my canvasses. The and Zorro. The sound of Zilon when you say it is like city provided me with rich supports to exhibit my a super-hero’s name in a comic book. urban works. 16
  14. 14. 17
  15. 15. Zilon, 1982, Montréal Zilon, 2007, MontréalWAs There Any oTher GrAffiTi-Type Work did you do Any of your sTreeT Work in Graffiti is now overground in a way. The gallerybeinG done Then in monTreAl? oTher CiTies besides monTreAl? owners are like sharks around the poor young art-At that time there was not much being done on I did some of my urban works here and there. I did ists. They know they’re gonna suck all their blood,the more refined ways. It was more statements some in NYC, Berlin, Tokyo and other Canadian their energy, and make a load of money with theof some frustrated people like “I hate you fuck cities like Toronto and Vancouver. They were very pureness of the art form. Graffiti is for the streets.you!!!!” Some statements were very good: “Silence discreet and practically silent. Ghosts. Recently, It is beyond the censorship of so many gallery ass-we kill!!!” It was like in-your-face stuff, something in 2010, a girl I knew who went to Berlin saw one holes. Those owners only choose the ones that areto make you think, but there were not that many of my signature faces that I had done in 1998. going to sell well – if it doesn’t work with thosepeople doing it. fuckers, they simply replace you with a new, a na- lookinG bACk on your Work WiTh GrAffiTi, ïve one. Business kills art, so let’s use art to kill hoW do you relATe To iT noW?you Are Well-knoWn for The ChArACTers the businesses.you pAinTed, And The fACes – simple yeT very I still love the rawness of spraypaint and blackAGGressive, ConfronTATionAl, espeCiAlly ThesiZe. WhAT Were you TryinG To Convey? markers, especially with big tips. I always carryI simply expressed the moment that I was during a thick black marker with me in my bag or pock-the procedure of drawing them. My signature art ets. I’m working on a series done exclusively withworks consisted only of faces, figures and some black markers. Like I said, I love the portability,bodies attached to them. Very comic book – pop like the iPhone. To be portable is essential for me.with emotions and looks. I can be in Paris, Berlin or whatever and zap a face on a wall instantly. 18
  16. 16. Ottawa
  17. 17. BUDDHA about Bud-I did not know much him on thedha before searching to him overinternet and talking of the in-the phone. By the end ited and terview I was so exc his dedi- hyped after hearing of ffiti and cation to hip hop, gra ers that it his drive to help oth me every continues to inspire 83 he cre- time I read it. In 19 Canadian ated the B-boy crew Quick, and Floor Masters with Kid ation for helped build a found da and be- breakers across Cana d his crew yond. In the 80s he an Buddha, 1985, London England conveyed a did large pieces that travelled variety of messages. He work lit a to England, where his ed there in fire with those involv you Are knoWn for your involvemenT in I was a bit into the punk rock scene too. I had a to burn to hip hop that continues b-boyinG, buT hoW did you GeT involved WiTh GrAffiTi? CAn you TAlk AbouT some of The Mohawk and all that in the early days. I would put his Mohawk this day. Even though siGnifiCAnT pieCes you did in oTTAWA? up big anarchy graffiti, a big circle and an A, and ll wears has disappeared he sti That term B-boy has now become a term used might outline it. Those were my throwups and that rs cutoff his Canadian Floor Maste specifically for a dancer. It wasn’t in the early was more like my politics coming out. But I was also ttoos, and shirt showing off his ta days, you could be a dancer but not a B-boy. You involved in hip hop and then the more I learned o any nor- continues to not fit int could be a breaker and not a B-boy. For us a B-boy about it, it was like no shit man, you can put up bus- ’s company mal standards. Buddha showed a level of commitment to the culture and long burners. In Ottawa we have these things called is helping Blue Print For Life that meant understanding, appreciating and rep- the transit ways where only buses are allowed to go oss Canada kids up north and acr resenting all the different elements. In some ways but there are big concrete walls. I remember one of a sense of build confidence and it was a healthier kind of vibe in the early days. the first ones we put up. All of us stayed up all night, ny people self worth. I hope as ma That is how we got involved in doing graf. We ac- 6 of my crew. The burner drained from yellow at him in per- as possible get to meet tually felt compelled as early hip hop participants the top to lime green to dark green. It was maybe spiration son to take in his in to represent with very little direction what that 2 buses long and it just said Headspin and I don’t maybe even and commitment, while meant because there was very little graf that had know for sure but I think that was the first big one b his lucky having a chance to ru gone up. to go up in Ottawa, it was in 1983. It scared the shit Buddha belly. 20
  18. 18. out of them at the city. I know it did because they we did with blue and a white trim and a big ma- Canada, maybe 1984, 85. That was when Ronaldhad it buffed off in 2 days and no one wanted to talk ple leaf hanging on the edge of it that said Floor Reagan was coming to town. I was like we got toabout it. Everybody was starting to talk about hip Masters, because that was the name of our crew. fucking do something. So we went down to thehop and the city knew they couldn’t let this get out That one is still up to this day, so that is a 27- or market and on this white wall, me, Kid Quick andof control. But it was a lot of work for us and then 28-year-old piece. If you duck down into this alley Trevor Walker did a huge bubble letter piece withjust go “oh shit it is gone already.” in the ByWard market, which is our tourist area small letters Reagan is a … and then, in huge let- behind a restaurant, it is still there. Sometimes ters, Psycho. That was cool because CBC was ask-Then we switched to going to some broken-down when cats come from out of town I show them ing around on who knows about hip hop and I wasalleys, some walls where it is not the bright clean that, it is like they have come to a little shrine and doing my master’s thesis on it at the time … .concrete where the public is going to see it daily. they freak out. It is pretty cool that way, it is a rareWe did a big one behind Bank Street in Ottawa, thing that a big piece like that would still exist that i hAdn’T reAliZed ThAT you hAd done Aone of the oldest night clubs called Barrymore’s. It many years later. mAsTer’s. WhAT Were you sTudyinG?had a large alley behind it and we did a huge piecesaying Crack Don’t Do It. Crack was starting to hit Another one I am proud of was featured on CBC, I was doing a master’s in social work. I like to helpthe streets and we were really enthused by the on a show called Switchback, which was a nation- people but I also like to look at the structure of pol-song The Message by Grandmaster Flash. That one al youth show. They decided to do a thing on hip itics and bureaucracies. I actually did my thesis as awe tried to do in an orange and red blend with big hop, they had us on and we danced live but they 9 hour video documentary on hip hop in 1985. Mosthuge letters with lots of cracks running through also did a little section on graffiti. It was probably people think it is the first academic piece ever donethe word Crack. I think the oldest piece in Ottawa one of the first national TV stories about graffiti in on hip hop. The CBC interviewed me on this na- Bando, 1985, London England 21
  19. 19. Clockwise from top left: FloorMasters, 1984, Ottawa;Danni, Mode 2 & Pride, 1985, London England;Graffiti by Beat Street Kid, Kid Quick and Buddha, 1983, Ottawa;Graffiti Fest by Trevor Walker, 1985, Ottawa 22
  20. 20. Graffiti Fest, 1985, Ottawa Canadian Floor Masters, 1985tional news story about graf standing in front of the the parking lot and had emcees on the mic and we still a group of us that are still in contact and we talkReagan is a Psycho piece. I made some comment battled and the public came by and saw it. No mat- about the early days. My homeboy, who was just aabout this is what is beautiful about hip hop – you ter what you did, like beatboxing or emceeing, we big strong black guy who hung out with us and didn’tcan bring your politics into it and it doesn’t have all hung out together and that goes back to the word even dance, he was more of B-boy than a lot of otherto be the McDonald’s billboard – you know, who B-boy. B-boys were the ones who kind of celebrated cats. He would hang out and play bodyguard with usasked for the McDonald’s billboard? I went into this that we were counter-culture. It was a lot like punk if the skinheads came by and spit on our cardboardlong tirade about the politics of visual spaces. in that way. There is a feeling inside when you walk when we were trying to street perform. But he was down the street with your Mohawk – I ain’t buying down and committed to support this vision. We maylookinG bACk on hoW muCh hip hop CulTure into everything of mainstream culture. We would not have fully known where hip hop was going buthAs developed sinCe you firsT sTArTed create and celebrate our own identity. It was based we were excited to celebrate that kind of energy andGeTTinG inTo iT, WhAT Are your ThouGhTsAbouT iT noW? on honesty and a deeper level of commitment. It has spontaneity and creativity together. to do with real culture and superficial culture. TheI don’t pretend that we were good, but I am proud media is always chasing to grab a piece of what we i heAr you noT only hAd A biG involvemenT inthat we were getting up when nobody else was do- got because we got swagger, we got street cred, we The sTArT of CAnAdiAn hip hop CulTure buTing it. Of course everybody does their own thing Also you did sTuff over in enGlAnd? got all that. Then of course it really gets distortedthese days but what we did back then was pretty I moved to England in 1985. I had to do one more over the years. Now the media co-opt it for theirsubstantial. We did a parking lot jam or mini block own devices like selling music videos and let’s put placement in my master’s program. The first oneparty in front of one of our pieces, we had a DJ with it in video games to make it look raw and rugged. I did was in a group home in Ottawa. I roll intoturntables, we put down all the refrigerator boxes in That is a whole other thing. I am really proud there is England and had no place to stay for a while. I’m 23
  21. 21. were the Chrome Angels, Pride, Scribla, Zaki and a famous New York graffiti artist called Bando. Ban- do moved from New York City to Paris and then back and forth from Paris to London. At that time they were all fairly young. We all got together and I was like let’s do England’s biggest hip hop festival over 3 days but it will be entirely owned and oper- ated by you guys repping all the elements at Jubilee Hall at Covent Garden, arguably tourist central in London. I bite my tongue at times because it can’t be my project. I’m just trying to facilitate. To me the social work or empowerment comes from all of those people doing the shit for themselves. Simple things like you have to learn to sit and listen to someone else’s opinions. How do you pull out the opinions of the shy people like Mode2? Mode wasKid Quick, 2005 one of the shyest kids I have ever met. How do you do it so it is not run by the one loudmouth emceesleeping in squats and in Hyde Park with a hundred called St. Mark’s Field. All the youth would go there in the room?punks. I connected with the English hip hop scene to practise. There was a lot of tension because the There were lots of struggles but there was a lot ofand at that point in 1985 it was largely run by the skinheads would come too. The skinheads would personal growth. They had to contact the media,record companies who did the big events. First of hide razor blades in their mouths and shit and they had to find out how to get free things. I loveall they had never seen a guy that looks punk rock sometimes it got kind of ugly. I started talking to it because to this day they reference Freestyle 85who is a B-boy who can do windmills and head- all the hip hop heads and was like, you guys are as possibly the most important not just in Englandspins. There were mostly black youth who were the fucking artists, so why don’t you run shit? They but in all of European hip hop. Because the powerdancers from Brixton. They were excited because respected each other but never really worked to- went back to these dudes. People talk about itI had stories and connections to the Bronx in New gether like the graf artist, the emcees and the DJs. as a pivotal turning point where the culture re-York because we used to go there all the time. The I am almost finished my thesis and I have a lot of gained control of itself. A lot of these cats wentNew York City Breakers who were in the movie Beat ideas about structural analysis of cultures, like on to have lifetime careers in hip hop. ImagineStreet in the big battle scene at the Roxy were per- why subcultures pop up in capitalist societies. I got the pride! It is great looking back that some ofsonal friends of ours. We would go to the Bronx and a bunch of theory ideas but they don’t mean shit, my ideas actually turned out. Incidentally, when Istay at their houses. In fact they used to be called how do you use this knowledge to do better street was in the UK I went by the name Negative G andthe Floor Masters and we were passed our name work, social work? Here I am in England and why my B-boy name changed because my crew gavefrom them to us, so there is that nice history piece. don’t I put some of my ideas into effect? I brought me the name Buddha because I developed a little together England’s best graffiti artists, guys likeAnyway, I’m in England and I’m practising with all tummy. My crew used to rub my tummy for good Mode2, he is known for big breasted women withthese black guys downtown at this drop- in centre luck before we would go on stage. machine guns, his stuff is off the hook, then there 24
  22. 22. One quick story about the way things worked at in the 1970s, I started B-boying in 1982 or 83 but because I was in the culture, I wasn’t like a jour-the Freestyle 85 festival. I got Mode2 to phone up I grew up near Windsor across from Detroit, De- nalist student trying to interview a graffiti artistthe manufacturer of Buntlack spraypaint, in Ger- troit in the 1970s was the motherland of funk, so I or a beat boxer. It was like ya Buddha is a B-boy,many. He does all this and literally one week later had a 1970s mentality. All that Earth Wind & Fire, ya I’ll talk to you. I got kind of candid interviews.a flatbed truck pulls up to the youth centre, cases Isley Brothers, George Clinton, that stuff just got The thesis is in the National Library of Canada onand cases of free spraypaint. They were all jump- etched into my brain as a teenager at the roller VHS tape. Every once in a while I run into someing out of their seats, they couldn’t believe it. rink. If you make the argument that hip hop is cat that goes, yo I pulled out your thesis. Dope! It also driven by the music and the vibe for the mu- is ghetto editing, I didn’t have production stuff. IThere was a huge art show component to the sic – and you could also make those arguments bought one of the first video cameras every avail-event too. Henry Chalfant even came over from for graf – then these things are an extension of able, I’d sit in front of a plant in my house andNew York and I got pictures of him with the that vibe. That 1970s funk was the precursor to a film myself talking. But the content was ill. I neverChrome Angeles. It was great to see the interna- hip hop mentality. It’s easy to see that evolution, really totally fit in. When I was doing my master’stional connection as well in graffiti and hip-hop, especially at the roller rink because we danced on of social work, you know 90 percent were niceor even if you just look at the B-boy thing. B-boy- roller skates and did acrobatics on roller skates. young women who wanted to be social workersing went back underground in a lot of places in That makes me one of the oldest B-boys in the to save the whales and all that. There I am in myCanada. It was 1986 to 89, BMX biking and skate- world, from the original generation – when I saw trench coats and big spiky hair thinking this is coolboarding took over as the rage in the media and Flash Dance and saw them spin on their back I was but this ain’t who I am. I think a lot of my earlywe were just really getting started. We said fuck already 23 years old; most of the kids in the New ideas probably did form me to get where I am nowit, we love this shit, we aren’t going to stop. We York City Breakers, Rock Steady Crew, Dynamic in my politics of what we do in the North.actually danced through that downtime. But what Rockers that got involved were 15-16 years old athappened in Europe is Freestyle 85 was heard the time. So to your question, I was aware of graf- Could you explAin WhAT you meAn Whenabout and inspired Italy and France and then they fiti and because of the punk rock political thing I you sAy “my poliTiCs of WhAT We do in Thestarted Battle of the Year in Europe and that in- norTh?“ i’ve heArd A biT AbouT your blue already had an interest in putting up alternative prinT for life CompAny ThAT runs soCiAlspired North America again. signs, sort of we are here, don’t blink, there is a Work ThrouGh hip hop proGrAms, buT i don’T knoW Too mAny of The deTAils. counter-culture. Looking back it felt like a naturalWhen did you beCome AWAre of GrAffiTi? WAs evolution, the timing was right for hip hop to drop I have a family connection to the North. My sisteriT When you Were TrAvellinG To The bronx? on me. moved to the North 18 years ago and married anI don’t remember what I saw first, there was al- Inuit guy. It kind of started like this, I was alwaysways tagging around and some punk rock graffiti. bitching at my sister, I’d be going what are you GeTTinG bACk To your mAsTer’s Thesis –But not like big burners, you know. I don’t know doing up there, you got 3 beautiful girls you’d be a hoW WAs iT reCeived When you finAllyif it was wildstyle or Style Wars but it was one of CompleTed iT? great mom but what if their best friend gets rapedthose where I realized the complexity and the size I got the highest mark of all the students. I got one day, because that shit happens up North.of graffiti as a culture, a bigger culture. Certainly honours with distinction. It was cool because ev- I could see that just bitchin about it wasn’t goodwhen I went to New York and the Bronx we would eryone else was writing 300 page papers and I was enough, I needed to do something meaningful. Isee lots of it, but I was already aware of it before like hell no, how am I going to write about a visual was still a social worker full time doing child pro-then. Beat Street came out in 1985, there is a big and audio culture, I can do it but it won’t be pleas- tection but I got a leave of absence to design thisgraf component to Beat Street. I started dancing ant and it won’t really rep it properly. It was cool 25
  23. 23. DJ Creeasian and Elder Arctic Bay Nunavutprogram and applied for crime prevention money. daily per diems and they make between $1,000 and gram. I think my credentials are both that I’m aWe rolled it out in Iqaluit in 2005 with 15 kids from $1,500 for the week. I think last year I paid $120,000 father of 3 and that I’m an older guy so they can’tthe secure custody jail, this is the 24-hour lock-up in contract salaries for B-boys. I’m really proud of go who is the angry kid. Secondly I actually havejail. They were sceptical that we could transform that because it normally doesn’t roll like that in a lot of experience as a social worker so policethose real tough, angry kids. Anyways it was so hip hop, sometimes people go fucking gangster on and all these other people would be foolish notsuccessful that people were saying shit, this is the stepping on their brothers and sisters, you know to listen to some of the stuff I have to say. Theymost important youth engagement in the Arctic what I mean? I like the hip hop hustle of being on don’t have to agree but I’m not just blowing it outever. I went back to my job and my phone started point and street smart but I don’t like stepping on my ass, right?ringing off the hook from other communities. The someone to get to where you got to go. This whole thing has really opened us up to beingNorth is kind of like that because everybody has a Anyway, here we are 6 years later. Michaëlle looked at a deeper level by the education system.grandmother in the next remote community and Jean, the former Governor General, gave us a big Like I said, we are not an afterschool program.word of mouth is how we grew. I had to make a award. We were also nominated for the first in- Most hip hop programs around the world are afterdecision to quit my job to do this fulltime. I love ternational reward for the arts, called Freedom to school or they come in for one afternoon. Withthe fact that I probably pay hip hop artists more Create, out of Hong Kong. They get thousands of us, we become the replacement school. There isthan any company in the world. I don’t take ad- applications a year and we were the first group no other school, besides my school, that goes forvantage of the B-boys and B-girls. I got about 30 from North America to be recognized as one of the 5 days straight. I make teachers do my program tostaff across Canada that are some of the illest Djs, top 5 finalists. The other piece I am really proud of humble themselves as if they were the kids. I thinkB-boys and B-girls, they go and have this amazing is that we are not like a hip hop afterschool pro- that is a brilliant part too. We are always talkingexperience, their expenses are covered, they get 26
  24. 24. about building relationships and a lot of times I really love the fact that it is not just dance but the first Live Style event on graffiti. I’m trying to getteachers, social workers and professionals they when I guest lecture at universities and stuff I can them to understand that it doesn’t matter if you putget these credentials and they move away and hammer people and show them 15 best practice a million bylaw officers on the street in Calgary,close down communication with the youth even clinical techniques that we do but why the fuck that will probably just make things worse. Shouldn’tif they don’t realize they are doing it. I’m kind of would I call this cognitive therapy even though you try and understand and try to find creativelike no, we are all human beings together, we all that is what we are doing, why would we call it ways to working with and supporting youth creativ-have our stories. that when it would scare the kids? But when I ity through graf instead of going power and control break it down we are probably doing better cogni- as the only option? As a parent, does power andWe use a lot of our personal stories about pain tive therapy for kids who have been traumatized control work? If you do that to your kid your kidand suffering and perseverance and survival to than psychiatrists do. I think what has happened will say fuck you and go hang out at the mall forinspire the kids. I got a couple of B-girls that have is that I have become much better at articulating the rest of their life. These are smart, high profilenever talked about being raped before but they our story in hip hop. It is not like we are taking people that are starting to get it, and in the schemetalk to the young girls about it, that is pretty pow- a round peg and putting it in a square hole. It is of things these programs don’t cost anything com-erful. Especially some on my team are First Na- kind of like I can prove to you that maybe we are pared to when big bureaucracy gets in the way andtions. Every time I talk to the kids I always say a better education model for some places. I can messes everything they touch.thank you for being a respectful listener and who prove to you that maybe we are better at deal-wants to hear my own story about when I was 15 ing with post-traumatic stress disorder than your CAn you desCribe WhAT hAppens over Theand I was doing break-and-enters and smoking traditional ways of hypnosis. Course of one of your proGrAms?dope every day. Well you know why I was doingthis, well here is what happened and I thank them Come on man, this year I was a keynote speaker to The buzz words I would use are transformationahead of time because by listening to my story all the chiefs of police and gang specialists in Ontar- and hope. Honestly, I go to places where the shy-you are allowing me to continue to heal. I think io and apparently they have never given a standing est girls in the world live. I love the fact that wethat is such a healthy mental health thing that we ovation to anyone and I got a 10 minute standing aren’t just working with the athlete kids. I got halfdon’t do enough of. We don’t lead by example as ovation. I come rugged, I unzip my coat and I got girls and half guys – 100 kids and I got a team of 10.adults, that if bad shit happens to you then that is on my cutoff shirt with my tattoos and I’m wearing We are intensely moving them through differentprobably a lifelong healing process. If you keep it my Canadian Floor Masters shirt and – you’re gang stuff. By the end of the week the kids who wouldn’tinside you are going to combust. I tell my story of specialists, you know what this is – these are my take their hands down from their faces, the girlsbeing put in garbage cans in front of 500 people colours. But I want to talk to you about the impor- up north typically have their hoodie up and theyin the school cafeteria and 500 people laughing at tance of colours in a dance crew. How my guys put their hand over their mouth, you can’t evenme as I crawled out covered in garbage and mus- have horrific backgrounds but we came together see their smile. The body language is just out oftard. Then I talk about how I turned that anger as a family and are young men and women sup- this world. We do a big battle in front of the wholeinto becoming the best rollerskater in southern porting each other. community. Often it is the largest community gath-Canada, even though I was tiny and got beat up all ering that has ever happened and we try to put I really felt like they got it. That would not have some traditional culture into it, which is all part ofthe time. It is kind of like you need to recognize happened in the 1980s or 1990s. People are starting our messaging. Imagine these girls strutting withthat anger is real but it is what we do with it, we to open their eyes. We have already spent billions their arms up like ya what you got, in one week.can either sabotage or we can turn anger into a on shit that doesn’t work. I remember I was in Cal- People are in such state of shock, parents and el-healing tool. That is the big theme of what we do. gary a few years ago talking to bylaw officers about 27
  25. 25. ders. I know the kids are going to be fine so I don’t ying yang. A lot of parents and elders had given done a 9-by-5 foot graf piece. I got 45 graf pieceswatch them, I watch the parents. Let’s say 800 par- up on their kids, believe it or not, and there are done in their own language. Syllabic is a cool let-ents came out, and that many people don’t even different political reasons around what happened tering style. This is their idea. We went to Capecome out to bingo in the North, and that is serious. in residential schools and stuff like that. We want Dorset with 200 kids in the town and 6 had killedMany of them are tearing up and some are openly to create these human moments where we can themselves in 2 months just before we got there.sobbing like their chest moving up and down be- re-bridge generations. Our DJ elder pictures show The kids did a graf piece saying Never give up.cause they cannot believe what they are seeing. In this. That is a very important symbolic moment. Ifone week to have a transformation, maybe not ev- we are asking kids to take a risk with somethingerything sticks but some of them don’t even have they are not used to, like graffiti art, B-boying,one happy memory in their fucking teenage life, then we got to lead by example. How cool is it foryou are going to begrudge them that? them to see grandma, who knows fuck all about Wheels of Steel, and she is up there in her tradi-We hear stories all the time that these kids aren’t tional Inuit caribou outfit scratching and pound-trying to commit suicide anymore, they aren’t ing on the MPC? Every place we go the kids havesniffing gas anymore. I have testimonials out the Respect Each Other in Inuktituk, Kuujjuaapik Nunavik 28
  26. 26. hoW did you GeT inTo GrAffiTi? DASER I was also doing a lot of breaking back then, itI saw a CBC documentary on the poverty in the South took right over, and I was always trying to figureBronx in 1982, it showed the subways covered in graf. out moves by watching rented beta video tapes of Daser is a hidden gem on the Ca-Trains in North America back then, they did not have Beat Street. Then by 86 it was deemed dead by a nadian graffiti scene . He hasspray paintings on them like in New York, so that lot of people, but rap music kept growing, and I been leaving his mark since theshocked me to see them all painted up. Train watch- spent a lot of time taping radio stations. Later on I early 80s and is one of the first ining was my hobby back then, I’ve been really inter- caught the original airing of Style Wars on PBS out Canada to transcend hi s physicalested in trains, passengers and freights since the late of Watertown and the whole hip hop culture blew boundaries by putting his name70s, I watched them and drew them a lot back then. up globally and took me over. on freight trains. Da ser battlesLiving in Kingston, I saw thousands and thousands of the often generic gra ffiti styleNorth American freight cars roll through town and of today with his ow obviously you sAW GrAffiTi develop in n complexno spraycan graffiti at all on them ever did I see, so CenTrAl CAnAdA; CAn you shAre A Timeline chunky pieces and abstr of your experienCe? act imag-this New York subway situation was just another ery. His passion for gra ffiti is asworld of its own on your TV set. Later that year I In 87 I moved to Ottawa and found some stuff intense as his pieces and he con-saw Dreams Don’t Die premiering on ABC and I be- painted around. There was this street legal piece I tinues to promote th e art formgan painting graf in the spring of 1983 with one piece liked in the transit tunnels and it was hip hop kids after 28 years.that year painted illegally. All of this was inspired by who did that stuff, but who? The Canadian FloorDreams Don’t Die. Masters did some stuff circa 1984. I caught one of their pieces done on Bank Street in 1986. In theIn the very early 80s I would travel to Toronto,out west, or through Montreal. I had my eyes Daser, 1994opened for damn sure, the walls and trains werebare, completely clean everywhere, everything!Graffiti art based on what you would see in themedia about New York was simply not yet a partof people’s thinking or culture here in Canada. AllI know is that back in the 70s and the real early80s you did not see the New York City-inspiredspraycan art here in Canada. Yeah, we know somehits were done in New York, but that’s like a dropin the ocean for the size of North American railactivity and its mindset in the 70s.next spread, clockwise from top:Ren2 by Daser, 1993, Kingston;Ren2 by Daser, 1992;Solon by Ren2(Daser), 1993, Kingston;Daser, 1995, Ottawa;Hip-Hop by Ren2(Daser), 1989, Ottawa 29
  27. 27. 30
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  29. 29. later 1980s I would find the odd attempts, some I found a tag, Ren, on a pole on Spadina. Kid-C was painting for a while. Vancouver’s scene was con-rare, rare tagging or hip hop-inspired spraycan on the loose with tagging, his handstyles were little sidered really fresh back then, with the AA crewactivity. There was no communication back then, pieces. The TCM crew was known for that. leading it in hip hop graf for Canada, stylewise.you just really hoped you would find someone It was something a little bit closer to home than In summer 1992 I had found more pieces in To-with the same interests. Between living in Kings- the American stuff we were seeing, it was good to ronto, names such as Sec and KS, and more stuffton and living in Ottawa I painted the words “hip see Canadian heads coming through. Toronto was by Ren, these guys were running the graf scene inhop” a few times, and in 1986 I painted a piece real close behind and then Montreal coming into Toronto that year, Kane was in there, Sady was athat said Funk Rules. It wasn’t until 89 that I had play over the years in a real big way. I used to go painter muralist from Scarborough. Ren was theeven come up with a name: Ren.2. through Montreal and see nothing but a little po- best of the bunch for his grassroots street tag- litical graffiti in the 1980s. The mid-1990s seemedMy family moved back to Kingston and that sum- ging and bombing on up to piecing and fills. Even to be the flashpoint spark for Montreal.mer I figured I would take a look for pieces in To- Virus, then known as KS, put some time in withronto because I saw some on a TV show that had TCM in the early 90s. In 1994 I met Ren and Hope,been filmed there. I took the train and coming into Reck, the whole crowd. I got in contact with Ren did The TAG ren.2 hAve Any ConneCTion To ren in ToronTo, mAybe from your Trip Tothe city I saw the letters TCM spraypainted on a and Hope, we traded photos, I ended up living at ToronTo in 1989?bridge, there were highlights coming off it, it had Ren’s house that summer. That was the best year I came up with the tag Renegade 2000 on paper,that hip hop feel. Further into the city, in around for graf I have ever had. I was not the perfect then I reduced it to Ren.2. That’s the name I wasKensington Market, Toronto revealed a scene that spraycan artist back then, but the heart was really known by around Kingston and Ottawa. It waswas rich with tags. there. I gave to that crew, and I learned from it. truly inspired by the Tommy Boy mega-mix withI saw really cool handstyles done with thick mark- TCM took off as a second wave. Canada had so few the song Renegades of Funk in it. I just wanted toers. One such writing said The Crime Messiahs – this writers up to that point, but now graf was really see the elements of hip hop, but I could not findwas TCM, their stuff all had that ill New York feel. I taking off. I met Shamus in 1993 in Ottawa, there dedicated people back then. By that summer I wasthought to myself these guys had to be into rap or were kids there just starting out, the Puzzle crew back living in Kingston and had already taken thatbreakers or something, the vibe was just pulsating! was making noise and seemed to have done some trip to Toronto where I saw the TCM hand styles inDaser, 2000, Ottawa 32
  30. 30. Daser, 1993the Kensington market and a Ren tag, but this was Canada’s east coast back then. TCM had a very se- Hooking up with TCM in 1994 and through on downover a half a year after I came up with Ren.2. I did rious influence on so many writers from the East the line was where I learned about flavour, seeingnot know he was piecing until I saw flicks of the Coast and way beyond, a lot of those guys don’t Rock Steady Crew at the Toronto waterfront thatMidas wall in 1991. In 1992 I came up with the Daser even know it. It’s like I say, “TCM is in you, but year. They brought back the art of the B-boy andtag, a new name that was not around, I wanted a you ain’t in TCM.” I learned so, so much from all B-girl styles and straightened out the game for5-letter tag so I could stretch out a little more on of them, but then again I brought strengths of my what a B-boy is. The writer Hope was good at chal-the freight car racks. It was an option to go along own to the crew that they learned from, and the lenging things, he made me realize some shit, Renwith Ren.2. There was no Daser catching fame back photo trades I was doing globally, the magazines, brought his extra-loose tagging abilities and let-then in the books or mags anywhere on the planet they all brought influence. ter fills, Virus was swinging on the lettering. Youthat I ever saw or heard of, remember we are talk- would start to figure out your own with time and By that time, 1994, The Crime Messiahs were madeing the 1992, 1993 era. I had a Daser piece on a train how to get spicy after a while, set your own mark. up of Sec, Reck, Kane, Hope, Ren, and myself – Das-appear in Skills magazine out of Boston that year. A lot of kids now can paint, but it’s very generic, er, as I was becoming more known. Before that you transparent, you can tell what they’re made of, itI had already been piecing certain very, very small had Kid C, Ren and Cyber. I met Cyber in the 90s at may look fresh out the box to some little kid, butlittle areas in Kingston since the 1980s and the Ren’s house but never did any runs with him. He true players know the deal, and can break the shitearly- to mid-1990s, but the TCM crew was like go- was a cool tagger that rolled with Ren, a dope hand- down. When I look at pieces, I just scan them ining to college or university. We were all different stylist for sure. Ren and Cyber put TCM together, an attack mode – where is that strong point thattypes of people coming together, we were paint- LaBomba was down with it, there were affiliations makes it legitimate?ing ahead of the kids that were just starting out on types of thing, people that could put it up. 33
  31. 31. 34
  32. 32. WhAT WAs The feelinG When you Were that were any good back then right across Canada. that’s how I hooked up with the first crew I everpAinTinG freiGhTs And reAlly no one elseWAs AT The Time? The spring of 1994 was when I started seeing and got down with, Tem CMD from Europe. I was notI started painting freights in January of 1992. In photographing stuff go by, saw a top-to-bottom go in any crew so I asked them if I could write CMD,Kingston they were only parked maybe 3 times a by for the first time one night when I was out rock- and yeah, so I did some CMD freights in the early-year, and that’s if you were lucky. I would piece ing the steel. From that year on it just became a to mid-1990s. Because of IGT I corresponded withthem when I could. The summer of that year I reality with writers in general. lots of writers globally. It was a great year, 1992,started seeing the occasional spray tag on double corresponding through IGT, getting hooked upstack trains. I kept piecing when the cars were laid And Then of Course There WAs The IGT Zine with writers and flicks of their scenes all around ThAT sTArTed up in 1984 – did ThAT influenCe the world. So the Ren.2/Daser name got out there.up in Kingston, although that was rare. The can you AT All?control mags I was getting were starting to reveal The photo swaps were fun, crazy hype! You mean the International Get Hyped Times? Ab-some freight piecing action. In the winter and solutely! Get hyped is exactly what it was about,summer of 93 I was still piecing racks. In the fall the first-ever aerosol art chronicle. It was put to-of that year I started corresponding with Ren and gether back circa 1984 by Phase2 and Vulcan, 2 ofhe had just started piecing boxcars and was mail- the scene’s king stylists and a ridiculous influenceing out photos to the west coast. Then came their on me and so many writers all around the world. Itstuff, the Vancouver vibe on the trains in 1994. I was a kind of zine foldout that talked politics andwas the first to start piecing freights consistently showed the piecing that was New York and otherhere in Canada – I’m sure of this unless someone painting from around the world. I can remembercan honestly prove otherwise with dated pieces back in 1992, just pulling it out of the mail box andphotographed, and I don’t know who that could opening it up before you even got in the house.be. We are talking the start of 1992 from my own Finally getting a good look at hardcore New Yorkpersonal documentation. You could practically culture after 10 years of wanting to see stuff. Youcount all the writers on your thumbs and fingers could put your address in it, and swap photos,CMD by Daser, 1993;facing page: Daser, 2002, Ottawa 35
  33. 33. 186
  34. 34. Clockwise from top left: Sinex, Vancouver Sinex, Vancouver Mouse by Sinex, Vancouver Sinex, Vancouver Sinex & K by Virus, 1994, Vancouver Sinex, 1994, Vancouver187
  35. 35. INDEX Graffiti Crews Graffiti Knights, The: 82, 84 Graffiti Shamans: 62 Graph-X: 125, 155, 160, 164, 169, 183, 185 2See (alternate name for The Graffiti Knights): 82 KGM (abbreviation for Kings Gone Mad crew): 146 3Eight (alternate name for The Night Crime crew): 45 Keep Suckas Nervous (alternate name for Kings Stop at Nothing crew): 146 AA : 32, 103, 107, 108, 114, 117, 119, 120, 125, 134, 160, 163, 166, 167, 175, 180 Kings Gone Mad: 146 Aerosol Army (alternate name for AA crew): 120 Kings Stop at Nothing: 142, 143, Aerosol Arsenals (alternate name Kool Style Network (alternate name for AA crew): 120 for Kings Stop at Nothing crew): 146 AK3: 39 KSN (abbreviation for Kings Stop at Nothing crew): 143, 146 Amoral Self Promoters: 39, 45 KWOTA: 39 Bink: 51 Mad Bombers, The: 39 Blessed With Style: 155 Msias: 54 BSM: 48 New York City Breakers: 24, 25 Burning America : 142, 146 Night Crime, The: 45 Canadian Floor Masters: 20, 29 Paid In Crime: 50, 51 CBS: 143 PIC (abbreviation for Paid In Crime crew): 50 CBW: 45 Puzzle: 32 CEY: 48 Raggamuffin Rascalz (alternate name Chrome Angels: 24, 25 for Rascalz crew): 119 Crime Messiahs, The: 32, 33, 62, 63, 103 Rascalz: 108, 119 D5B (abbreviation for Dash Five Bionica crew): Rock Steady Crew: 25, 33, 112 175, 181, 183 SK8s: 45 Dash 5 Bionica: 155, 166, 167, 169, 170, 171, 174, 175, 180, 181, 183, 185 Swarm: 37 DVS: 117 TCM (abbreviation for The Crime Messiahs crew): 32, 33, 62, 63 Dynamic Rockers: 25 Tem CMB: 35 East Side Posse: 155 TMB (abbreviation for ELF: 45 The Mad Bombers crew): 39 EMC3: 163 TMF: 135 188
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