Alright so thanks for taking the time out to do this interview, can you give us a brief introduction of how you got to this point? When did you start, what crew do you rep (if any), and what’s the story behind “Ya Tu Sabe”?
It all started in the South Bronx in the early 80s, I was playing a game called Asteroids in the projects. There was a writer named Smiley 149 R.I.P. he used to always be sitting in his newspaper stand and when I used to go play my video game at the local arcade we met and he asked me to go check out the trains with him.
I was amazed by the art I saw on those trains and ever since then I would sneak away, lie to my mother that I was going to play Asteroids, and would just sit there with him for a little while and look at these trains.
Smiley 149 was one of the pioneers of graffiti, and I was so attracted to the art I saw on the trains that it inspired me. Isse and Base were some writers from my projects, and I saw them writin’ so I started to write a little. You know elementary school, writing on desks, and being mischievous stuff like that.
At that time it was the beginning of hip hop, break dancing was just starting out. South Bronx is like the mecca of hip hop and graffiti.
I really like that wall jam you just finished up with the kms crew! What is the process and story behind this piece? Do you guys just show up, get a buzz going and just start throwing paint or is it more planned out?
That’s KMS and Cod which is Wen, Wane, Jesso, and a bunch of other artists. Wayne puts that together its called Boone Walls and I’ve been fortunate to be apart of each and every one. It’s a pretty cool jam man and there are so many people there, to be honest with you man you cant finish a piece in one day, you know what I mean?
I like to spread love, so I like to stop and talk if I have to and it ended up taking me two days to finish that piece. It was worth it though cause I saw a lot of people that I hadn’t seen in a long time.
So is the number 1 thing for graffiti is the jams, being able to hang with friends? How has the rise of jams changed the way people do graffiti?
Well, the modern-day jams are cool, but back in the day it wasn’t like that. We had to hide to go sneak into Brooklyn to look at stuff because back then you couldn’t just go anywhere cause if you’re not down with that crew you will get fucked up and your cans were taken away.
So it was pretty wild, but you know what I really like it now cause everyone is working together and you know there are guys that are older that are still good and come in to do their thing. There are so many different styles and approaches and you learn from them and the funny thing is they end up learning from me too.
So you said in the past you could get your ass kicked and cans taken away, do you have any stories from that time?
Yea we’ve gotten away a few times, sneaking around trying to throw up tags and whatnot. We’ve been chased, I don’t want to name names or anything like that but yea I’ve been through a couple of chases and you gotta getaway or they’ll beat you up.
What is your favorite documentary or book that covers the history or major players of graffiti and why?
There’s a few I would recommend DONDI White Style Masters is a great read by legendary DONDI White R.I.P. . Broken Windows, of course, Subway Art is great, Graffiti New York, Fresh Paint came out with a nice one recently. Also From the Platform is great as well.
Who are some of the South Bronx up and coming writers that you are looking at right now and appreciate?
My buddy LOGEK drops dope pieces. The Bronx team itself: JEW, Pase, Abe they always bring it and the rest of the fellas bring it too. There’s also a lot of established guys like Tats crew you know that the three-headed monster right there. Gotta give a big up to Perfx for what he did in the 90s he always brings great productions. King B, is a great artist. Can’t forget my teacher Kurrs and Bg 183 TATS cru has been a big influence on me he’s a tough teacher haha.
They are all a bunch of guys to be around and a great influence. Anyone I thought I forgot I’m sorry I’m just saying this off the top of my head.
So even after all these years you still have Teachers and mentors?
Absolutely some of them have 10 to 15 years more than me so I’m just humbled to be friends with these guys and to be family. Cause you know we visit each other’s homes and break bread all the time. It’s not a bad bunch to know.
I see you post a lot of different mediums one of them being the badass jean jacket piece you did! What kind of material did you use for the jacket? Is it just copic markers? I also see you make a lot of marker pieces. Do you put any of these up for sale?
Yea man I rocked one a long time ago and I did it with gesso which makes you feel like you got a piece of cardboard stuck to your back haha. So I hated that. So I was with Bg and Nissa was working on his jacket and I noticed, hey this is kinda flexible, Nissa went on to explain that he was using latex acrylic. he was working with his jacket nissa this is just used latex acrylic. So I went back to the studio to work on a commission I had for a DJ and I hit it with the latex acrylic and clear and it came out perfect.
When it comes to graffiti, what are your favorite products to use?
Well in the beginning Krylon sucked it was kinda watery you would have to hit it with silver just to get a good style of yellow. Rusto was a little better, Red Devil was good. In the 90s American Accent kicked everyone’s ass, it was just heavy paint and it just worked. Then I had stopped for a while and the first can I used when I came back to graffiti was Montana black old but the old Montana with a B. Then I got introduced to all the new caps and whatnot, but yea Montana Black is a great paint Belton is great too, but now there are so many brands its more like this can of paint can do this and I use another brand for that. You know what I mean?
What kind of music do you listen to when you paint? How do you think hip hop and music has changed?
I feel we lost a lot of styles nowadays its a little weird to me that we live in a society from the beginning to the golden era of hip hop in the 90s where they told stories, and now it’s just these guys same the same word 50 times in a row and its a hit. But I guess that’s what kids like nowadays, me personally I’m not a fan.
My favorite number #1 hip hop artist is Rakim. but I mix it up I’m Puerto Rican so I like listening to Latina music, 90s hip hop, I love 80s music and Frank Sinatra soothes the soul. I mix it up man I try not to stay on one channel the whole time.
On a personal level you seem to have a deep love for New York City, how has it been watching so many things going on in New York since the pandemic hit? There has been press a lot lately that New York will never be the same, I’m curious what your opinion is
Overall since I’ve been here as a child it’s gotten better, the crack era fucked up New York bad but things got better. A whole lot better. But now with this whole pandemic and racial thing. Everyone was just wild it actually hurt me that these guys messing up the neighborhood and doing all this nonsense. I mean guys you just messing it up for yourselves at the end of the day. I guess the times are changing, and today to these kids being disrespectful is cool.
I didn’t grow up that way, for example when I was a younger guy and say we’re just smoking a joint or something and we happen to sit down on someone’s stairs and an old man says “hey you gotta get outta here”. Well, we would just walk away like alright man sorry.
Nowadays god forbid that you say anything to anyone, they either try to shoot you or try to cause some harm to you you know what I mean. That level of respect is gone. I miss that but overall is overall New York is smoothing down now and things are getting back to normal. I sympathize with those that lost loved ones or their businesses so RIP to those guys in this pandemic because personally I haven’t lost anyone and I’m blessed in that way. RIP to the riders I lost along the way, but it’s not over yet. Let’s be positive and move forward.
I see you sell some of the personal one-off marker pieces you do, which i love by the way. Do you run this or plan to run your account like a business? Is your aim to do this full time, if not what do you do outside of graffiti?
See the whole thing is I am a super intendant to a commercial building and that office is kind of like my studio. So I sit down and I just draw something and it just comes up as it materializes right then and there and I just put it up as a good morning to everyone on Instagram. Sometimes I get a dm from someone to buy a piece and I’ll usually meet up with them or send it their way.
You know what I turn it into a business, I get commission jobs, good money, and I like to spread the love and help others. I just look at it as graffiti as my love and passion.
When you were coming up who inspired you and taught you the ropes and who inspires you now? Who are the artists that are inspiring you now?
That would be “Clark fly d” when I moved out of south Bronx and my dad bought a house in North Bronxwhich had to be 80 or 81, something like that. I met clark and man he had so much style as a young guy and still does today. The guy is good. I was fortunate to link up with him as a friend and brother for so many years and my base style comes from him
Along the way, I’ve hung out with a lot of others. TATS cru, those guys inspire me just by the way they work together. They got three different styles that just work together and as a business they do great.
Those guys inspire me. SERVE FBA he has a style that just bleeds graffiti, I mean that’s graffiti I love. It Spot KMs is a good friend I met all those dudes, they got his style wicked hand style stuff. Even just the people I paint with, like LOGEK. LOGEK is my friend but he’s also my brother. We paint together and we hardly even talk, just paint and have a few beers after. And master bg 183 he’s my biggest critic, sometimes it gets on my nerves but i understand cause it works haha.
Any shout outs you would like to give? where can people follow you?
Big shout out to all the Instagram followers for all the love some of you guys I’ve never even met. My man Yaun from Germany, my man MEK from jersey, the whole FUA crew, Bronx team, four burners. Oh man, there is so many who else.. big up TATS cru, big up SADE TCM, big up spot and scuff, KMS, YKK and to KELLZ 4-Burners-Bronx Team Clark Fly ID Ribs GAK and all the gifted artist that shared many moments along the way,lets keep the culture alive….Thank You You can follow me on Instagram at Yesone
Interview by Wesley Edwards