Steven Payne: 00:00:01.339 Welcome to the Bronx aerosol arts documentary
project. My name is Stephen Payne, librarian and archivist at the Bronx county
historical society. Kurt, you want to go ahead and introduce yourself?
Kurt Boone: 00:00:10.237 Yeah, I'm Kurt Boone, and I've been writing about urban
culture for 40 years.
Steven Payne: 00:00:15.590 Great. So today is March 1, 2022, and we're really
happy to be here with BG 183, a founding member of the TATS CRU. Really
legendary graffiti artist, a master of style, and the intricacy of his
00:00:30backgrounds and the details in his pieces are just out of this world. And BG
will be talking a lot about growing up in the Bronx and his art, and we're
excited to get into it. So BG, why don't you start off by talking about your
family's history and background and say a little bit about how your family ended
up in the Bronx?
BG 183: 00:00:53.603 Okay. Yeah. So my mother, Maria, my father, Sotero, they
both met in Puerto Rico in a place called Santurce. Santurce, Puerto Rico was
00:01:00basically a place that had kind of a hip-hop element in Puerto Rico but was
called salsa. In that particular area that my mom and father lived at in
Santurce, they had a lot of land club that was one of the best salsa performers,
00:01:30musician, singers came from in that era in Santurce. And that was like the
beginning of my mom and pop. My father was a professional baseball player in
Puerto Rico. He played under the baseball team, Santurce, and he played for two
00:02:00years. And before that, he also traveled, because my father was, like, a dark
skin Puerto Rican. So when they took him to places like South Carolina, he
played in Georgia, he played in different parts of the South of America. He was
wondering why they kept putting him in black hotels. He only allowed to eat in
BG 183: 00:02:35.609 So first time in his life, he was facing racism, like being
Puerto Rican and Puerto Rico. If you dark skin, you still could walk into
typical white skin Puerto Rican. But over there, when he came down here to
America, he was treated different. They all rode in the same bus, but all the
00:03:00white, light-skinned Puerto Ricans, they took them to the white hotels, and then
my father would go into the black hotel, and that's how it was for him. So after
that, he went back to Puerto Rico. My mom and him got together, and then my
father decided to go to New York City. So he moved to Harlem, like a 106, 107 in
00:03:30Park Avenue. Today is where they do the festivals at. So my father was there, in
the beginning, I think he moved there in 1957. He came from Puerto Rico, so now
he's in Harlem, and my mom is still back home. So I think after, like, three,
four years later, my father asked her, let's come to New York. So they moved to
00:04:00New York and they moved into the Bronx. And I think it was like Brian Avenue
where they lived there for a while, then they moved again to a regular apartment
building where I was born. And that was in Freeman Street, right off of the
Sheridan. I was like maybe a block away from the 6 train. We used to take the
6 train back then.
BG 183: 00:04:32.359 My father worked as a factory worker, as a shipping clerk
for many years and my mom was basically a housewife, like taking care of me and
my other two brothers and my sister. And that was a time that-- it was early
'60s I remember, and I remember a lot of stories. My father used to play
softball. Now he's a softball player playing here. He would play like at Cortona
00:05:00Park, Central Park, Pelham Bay Park, and he used to play for-- they used to play
for money, or for beer. Whoever wins would buy a couple packs of beer for the
players. And then my father got into playing dominoes. So he became a
professional domino player. Back then, he used to bring back trophies. I used to
00:05:30see trophies and I remember-- I think I probably knocked one of them. And I
remember breaking one and he was very upset. I don't remember him hitting me or
anything like that, but I know he was very upset. And my father was very strong.
He was a very strong man. My mom, for Christmas, she would buy me art supplies.
And that was like the beginning of me drawing and that helped because for
00:06:00Christmas, for my birthday, any type-- [inaudible] outside walking while she
would see something art related and she would buy me coloring by colors, like
those pages or coloring books, anything that was art related we used to do. I
remember my mom used to buy like these 500 to 1000 puzzles and then we used to
00:06:30start early in the day and finish it at night, with all four of us, we'd be like
[inaudible] putting all the puzzle together.
Steven Payne: 00:06:39.236 You got your puzzle crew.
BG 183: 00:06:40.454 Yeah. You take care of the sky, you take care of the tree
area, you take care of the buildings, or the water scene whatever the actual
puzzle was. We entertained ourselves, saying like I would go outside and I would
play the street games. And one of the street games was [Skelzies?] . That was
00:07:00one. We used to play-- it was called 13 and that was-- you throw the ball
against the edge of the side of the building and it will pop. It will go and you
grab it or it might get stuck. They had like a little space of the building that
if you throw it just right the ball gets stuck there and that was considered
like 50 point to 100 points. And we used to play to like 180 so the more you
00:07:30[inaudible] but you always had to pass the number 13. You couldn't go under. If
you went under that's when the next person [inaudible]. But I remember the
[inaudible] I think that's how I [inaudible] and then you know we play roundup
around the world, that's like a tag that you play, bulldog. We played all
different games and [doing?] that time I remember we was mostly in a black
00:08:00neighborhood. But again I was kind of dark skinned so I actually fit into the
neighborhood. And they used to say Puerto Rican against blacks. So it was like
that. We always lost because they were much bigger than us and everything. We
was kind of skinny but we had definitely had great time. I don't remember
anything crazy. Then when when we was living in Freeman the building got--
00:08:30that's when the beginning of the burning of the South Bronx. So these buildings
was getting burned or-- accidentally. Not everything burned because they wanted
to burn it.
Steven Payne: 00:08:47.691 And these were old buildings, too, right?
BG 183: 00:08:48.924 Right. These was buildings that was there owned by
landlords and they were-- everybody was living there. But one building burned
because maybe the Christmas tree. A lot of fire was caused by in the winter time
00:09:00with people plugging in heaters--
Steven Payne: 00:09:05.834 Heaters. Yeah, yeah.
BG 183: 00:09:06.175 --with the Christmas tree or with the washing machine or--
everything was in one outlet. And these fire was really-- at that time I don't
think they had any regulation how to plug in these stuff. So all these fire was
taking place and next thing you know I think the landlord couldn't really afford
to fix these, so-- and people was not going to move in places like that. I
00:09:30remember we always was almost the last family to move and they were like 30
family members that lived in one building. We was like maybe the second or the
third to move. So I mean, during that time there was no landlord. So again my
mom and pop was not really making money, so we would stay in those-- you still
had light, but it was no heat. But at least you only got to do is my mom would
00:10:00put on the stove or buy two or three more heaters because again we're not paying
for no light bill because that building, it's not on the record. So we lived
like two or three years living like that. We were comfortable. After a while,
you had a move because it was getting more abandoned and it's not safe anymore.
It this like the early 70s? Yeah that's like early, early 70s. And then my mom
moved again. We moved to Simpson--
Steven Payne: 00:10:31.615 Okay, Simpson. Yeah, yeah.
BG 183: 00:10:31.873 --right across the street from Casita Maria. And that was a
recreational area that I'd spend my time playing sport or ping pong or handball.
And they also had a softball team there. And that particular block was always
active and in activities because of Casita Maria. We still had the stickball. We
used to do all different games. Every summer it was just playing sport, being
00:11:00active every day, doing that. Me and my brother was one of the best what at we
was doing. We got into playing Connect Four and we became the champion of the
block. Even to this day people said, I'll play you Connect Four and I'm still
nice at it. And this is how it was and then again with the fires I remember
there was a building right across the street from where I live at and through
00:11:30the windows and through the curtain, I could see light-- a lot of light coming
through the curtains. And then when I used to open the curtain, it was like one
of the biggest fire in the South Bronx.
Steven Payne: 00:11:49.625 That's crazy.
BG 183: 00:11:49.566 It was a total of like five building, a complex building,
that was connected together and you see-- you could see the whole five building
burning. And And then after that was kind of my entertainment. I'm sleeping I'm
00:12:00trying to sleep and I see all this light and I'm looking at the window I see the
fire. I hear people screaming and I'm like ''Wow this is kind of like--'' For me
it was like ''Wow.'' I was like I'm young so I was like that's crazy and then
the next day in the news you would hear that four or five men had died on that
00:12:30fire because they probably was on the roof and it fell because all that heat of
the fire. So this is what you heard. You heard always the fire department truck
always passing by. You hear the ambulance passing by you hear the police going
in and out of-- and I'm still you know I'm still growing up but at the same time
I'm doing the sports, I'm enjoying I'm doing some art and my school and I
00:13:00graduate from the 5th to the 6th and now--
Steven Payne: 00:13:05.705 Which elementary school?
BG 183: 00:13:07.179 I went to [P.S.] 66 that was on Jennings and then from
Jennings so I went to PS 116.
Steven Payne: 00:13:17.176 Oh okay.
BG 183: 00:13:18.089 No, it's P.S. 66 and I.S. 116 was a junior high school and
that particular junior high school was just opened up.
Steven Payne: 00:13:30.226 Oh great.
BG 183: 00:13:30.939 It was called Raphael Hernandez. He is a Puerto Rican
00:13:30musician and they had-- this school had everything. This school had workshop,
electrical shop, art and craft, it had sewing class it had everything that--
like it was a school that was meant for-- and my type of neighborhood so called
the ghetto was a school that had all these high-end stuff to teach young kids
00:14:00that going to that school so I went to that school when I was in the 6th grade
and I learned how to do workshops, electrical, I learned how to do sewing, craft
and art and the craft and art class I learned how to do stencils and that was
like one of my first time doing stencil like my teacher actually taught me how
to use a razor blade, put on the light to make sure that you don't have extra
00:14:30paper sticking out and I would again during that time I was a great artist so I
created like this parakeet bird when he cut it and then when he sprayed it or I
think he was doing like silk screening or whatever he was doing he loved it he
said he showed ''Class, look at this student.'' And I was kind of like shy back
then I was like ''Okay.'' And I remember doing that and then I remember one
00:15:00story in the third grade I think this is like one of my stories that I always
mentioned is I drew a Spider-Man
Steven Payne: 00:15:15.058 yeah.
BG 183: 00:15:15.448 I just did like an oval head and the eyes of Spider-Man.
And I remember I looked at it, I had on top of my table and I think it was like
home rule like you could talk for like 10, 15 minutes before class would start
again. I remember this one guy one of the students came up to me and said, ''Oh,
00:15:30can I see that drawing you did? It looks very nice.'' And took it and he brought
it to a group of students that was like talking about it and I'm hearing them
like this ain't some stuff then the guy come back and he says ''My friend is
better than you.'' And he gives me back my Spider-Man. I said ''What?'' So that
made me go back home to practice. That was like the beginning of me getting into
00:16:00it so I went and I drew the same Spider-Man head but this time I did the web
that come for the Spider-Man head. I thought I'm gonna show these guys. So now
I'm waiting for them. So he comes over. "Can I take it?" I said, "Yeah, take
it." Then he comes back and said "The other guy drew Incredible Hulk. It's
better than you." I'm like, "Oh my gosh." So again because the life of The Bronx
00:16:30is like that. It's always a competition, like, "I'm better than you. Look at
your sneakers, your sneakers, they got holes in it." Or, "Your sneakers look
dirty. I got the brand new sneakers." So the fashion part of The Bronx and I was
next to Jewman. They had a store called Jewman with cool [hosiery?] and that was
around the corner and they the one who actually started the fashion of hip-hop
00:17:00because all the clothes were made by Jewman. You would buy before [Dr Jays?],
before the Jimmy Jazz, before all these stores, they say, "This is a hip-hop
store." Jewman was one of the first.
BG 183: 00:17:16.085 So we had one on 163rd and it's still there. The son is
still there. His name is Chucky. We know him for many-- we know him since the
'70s and then you had two more stores that were around the corner on Southern
00:17:30Boulevard, on Simpson train station, and then you had another one on Freeman
Street. So we had really no more than 1000 feet, 1500 feet away from all these
stores. When you bought your first Nike sneakers was--
Steven Payne: 00:17:54.885 You go there.
BG 183: 00:17:55.620 --you go there and I remember going into these stores and
00:18:00you'd be like, "Oh, let me get those pair." "These are the new Nikes." I said,
"Nike?" And they were called Cortez. They were riveted bottom with a-- almost
like a tennis sneaker, a blue family. And I said, "Oh, they look nice. Can I buy
one?" And they'd be like, "Okay." So they would show you the brand new Nike, oh
that's beautiful, and then they would put it in the box and I say to him, "Oh,
00:18:30can I see the other one?" They say, "Why? Why do you want to see the other one?
Why?" And I'd be, "Oh, I want to see how you look." And they will be like, "No."
And then when they pull it out, it's an old pair of Nike. So the left or the
right will be old and be like, "I don't want it." And then they say, "Get out.
Get out. You don't want to buy--" it was only $15 for a pair of Nikes. This is
the beginning of sneakers. And the same way when you bought Adidas. Adidas came
00:19:00out before Nikes and you had the Pumas--
Kurt Boone: 00:19:09.448 [inaudible] PRO-Keds.
BG 183: 00:19:10.225 --and then you had the PRO-Keds. You had the 69ers. The
Steven Payne: 00:19:14.315 The 69ers, for sure.
BG 183: 00:19:16.162 These were like a line and then before that with the
Converse and then before the Converse were the Skippys. The Skippy was one of
the first. I made sure that I had a hole in my Skippy because I didn't want to
wear Skippys. Yeah, and then snap on your [inaudible]. Yeah, and your toes be on
00:19:30the bottom like this looking or they will flap up. It was because the heat of
the summer used to burn the rubber off. So it was really hard times. So again,
so we had the Jewman giving out the hip-hop clothes. They had the sheepskins.
They had the leather jacket, the bombers. I used to rock all that, that
[Chinese?] mock neck, the overlap jeans that had French-cut pants. Everything
00:20:00that was the fashion, you went through them.
Steven Payne: 00:20:11.013 And this was when you're in junior high?
BG 183: 00:20:12.381 It was '73, '72, '74.
Steven Payne: 00:20:15.949 Yeah. Sure. Sure. Very early early then.
BG 183: 00:20:18.464 It's very early. Again, because I always outside. And it's
funny. I was not trying to show up in front of a girl. It was mostly to show up
00:20:30in front of my friends. You know what I'm saying? The day, the one, I would go
to that group, and automatically, they would try to snap, make jokes on you. So
in the beginning, I felt kind of like, "Oh, why they doing that?" Then after a
while, I became the guy. You come up to me, but I see something I didn't like, I would--
Steven Payne: 00:20:53.993 You would be snapping them. [laughter]
BG 183: 00:20:54.954 Yeah. Be like look at your glasses or look at your jeans,
look at your pants. Next thing I know, they want to fight me, and we start
00:21:00fighting. But that's how it was. Growing up, it's the fashion, painting, playing
sports, I'm better than you, I have more home runs than you, I got a better
swing, I could catch better, and when we play two in touch, I could do more
moves than you, I could catch, I could run faster. So everything was always a competition.
Kurt Boone: 00:21:29.371 So let me ask you. Talking about the gang activity too.
00:21:30So you run in the gang members. You got colors on. How did you navigate that too?
Steven Payne: 00:21:40.621 You see that graffiti up on different walls, things
like that. Did you encounter that?
BG 183: 00:21:43.639 For me, doing the time with the gang members, they looked
on my block. So it was not like I was scared of them or anything. So I was very
part of that group, but not running with them, but I was neutral with them.
Steven Payne: 00:21:59.938 Sure. Which one was it?
BG 183: 00:22:00.344 So we had the Savage Skulls. We had the Ching-a-lings.
Yeah. Savage Nomads. And you had the Boogie Brothers. And then you had other
crew that wasn't gang member that was regular crews. You had Kelly crew. In my
neighborhood, we had Kelly crew, Wilkins crew. You had the Gestapo crew. You had
those little nation. You had all these crews that was up. We got Boogie. You had
the Bamboo Brothers. And that was with Theodore and them. You know what I'm
00:22:30saying? They used to jam a place called 75 Park in the early '70s. And I saw him
perform, but I didn't know he was [inaudible] with the Theodore. And a true
story is, again, I had a friend of mine that when I went to his house and he
spoke to his mom and he's saying to his mom, "Mom, where's my gun at?" I can't
00:23:00even told my mom where's mine [laughter] or where's my slingshot or my pea
shooter. You know what I'm saying? She'd whack you if you do that. [laughter]
She'd whack me. And this guy's saying, "Mom, where's my gun at?" I thought he
was joking. And I hear his mom saying, "Yeah. It's right here in the kitchen
drawer." I said, "Wait a minute." "Okay. You sure? Which one is it?" "It's a
small 22." [laughter] And I'm like, "Oh, shit." I'm like, "What the--?" And my
00:23:30mom like-- "What's going on here?" So next thing you know, he asked for another
gun. His mom said, "Yeah. I have it right here." I'm like, "Oh." And he says,
"Yo, Ma, can you bring it over?" Now, maybe this guy is lying. So his mom really
brings it over, [laughter] give it to him. And he's like, "Okay, Ma. Thank you."
And he gets it back to her. And I said, "Wow."
BG 183: 00:23:54.944 And this guy was one of the guys that when people heard his
00:24:00name, they You know what I'm saying? So he was my friend. And so I remember we
walked over to where Grand Wizard Theodore with performing and he's walking
around with a shotgun. And then we got to the area where they were DJing at.
When you DJ, there's always people surrounding to-- and he tells me "Yo, can you
do-- I want you to do it. Grab the shotgun, put on the side, and walk around."
00:24:30And I say to myself, "Why?" But next thing you know, I grabbed the shotgun and I
walked around. You did it, though. I did it. Then I went like this. I try to
give it back to him. He like, "No, no, no. Walk around a second time." And I
said, "Okay." I walked around a second time and then after that I see Grand
Steven Payne: 00:25:02.059 Doing his thing? [crosstalk].
BG 183: 00:25:02.237 --performing and DJing. He got his crew because back then,
if we didn't do stuff like that. You got robbed for your equipment.
Steven Payne: 00:25:10.070 Absolutely. Your equipment would be gone. Yeah.
BG 183: 00:25:11.975 Because equipment. A lot of DJs got robbed for the
equipment because, one, there was no money in the street and the way you
probably got-- you rob somebody for they DJ equipment or you will break into the
store, an electrical store that's sold mixers and turntables.
Steven Payne: 00:25:30.532 That stuff was expensive, anyway. Yeah.
BG 183: 00:25:30.754 You would go in there-- at that time it was expensive. Or
speakers. So at that time, that was like that. So I started DJing because he had
DJ equipment in his house. So, boom, I'm DJing. I met a lot of a lot of people
during that time. There was a DJ, Whiz Kid, and had a couple of groups that were
performing back then. Breakers? No. The breakers was later on in like in the
00:26:0080s, but they was-- before breaker they were called b-boy and the b-boys, they
had their own almost like a alt-rock. They used to do alt-rock firs. Before
breaking they was more alt-rock and they would dance together and they would
drop and do almost like a routine. And that was the first time I got to see
that-- in that time, again, I was not really dancing or doing anything like
00:26:30that. But then later on-- I'm seeing and not even into graffiti yet and right
now I'm more into--
Steven Payne: 00:26:43.738 DJing.
BG 183: 00:26:44.062 DJing. And then you had the song Rapper's Delight that came
out. But when Rapper's Delight came out, I'm in the mix so you'll be the first
one to hear it before it went on the radio. So it went it went on the radio a
00:27:00year later. It got on the radio. So what happens when you hear too much music?
Kurt Boone: 00:27:07.815 So you would hear it in the [inaudible], or you just [crosstalk]?
BG 183: 00:27:09.630 Right you hear it in the [inaudible] or you buy the record?
Kurt Boone: 00:27:13.486 Oh, you buy the record. Okay.
BG 183: 00:27:14.291 Right. You buy the record because it's the beginning and
everybody's like, oh, look, Rapper's Delight and already the DJs and the MCs,
they're already performing. You're hearing the Grandmaster Flash perform. You're
hearing a lot of DJs performing and you hearing all these cool Herculoids
00:27:30performing. So all that you hear it from mixtape. And people coming over with
mixed tape and giving you mixtape--
Steven Payne: 00:27:41.761 [crosstalk] mixtape [crosstalk].
BG 183: 00:27:42.912 --and you're hearing all this and that's how-- and then you
had in the early 80s, you had Mr. Magic.
Kurt Boone: 00:27:50.315 Mr. Magic, yeah.
BG 183: 00:27:50.915 And then before that it was somebody else, but that was
Underground College once and then they had Mr. Magic that came on about like 11
o'clock in the PM or and then he moved over to 12 and he moved over to 1 PM. But
00:28:00we used to fight. My brother was one of the guys that went on a mission to
record all these hip hop. So my brother was into the music, so I got into the
music with my brother. So again, you had the DJ, he had the jams going on again.
I'm in the South Bronx, so all those performance you see, you see for free, you
00:28:30know what I'm saying? You saw for free. And then you had the records, you had
people dropping records. And I remember like we were saying earlier about
Rapper's Delight and it came out in a year later it became in the radio and then
two years later it was one of the hottest songs. And I'm tired of listening to
Rapper's delight. And then you hear people saying, "Oh, you heard this soul
Rapper's Delight?" I say, "Oh, that's old." "That is not old. I just hear in the
radio they say this is brand new." "Well, like no, that's old, that's old."
00:29:00Because when you're in the mix of the culture of hip hop, you hear it way before
it became mainstream and you knew-- so I was one of those guys that was
fortunate that I thought all that stuff. And then my older brother, he got into
gangs. So now he's part of the Savage Skulls.
Steven Payne: 00:29:32.384 Oh, he's part of the Savage Skulls. Yeah, yeah.
BG 183: 00:29:33.514 So now, there was a-- and I think early, late '70s like '78
or I don't know how early they started, you had a guy named Comanche
Steven Payne: 00:29:46.191 Oh, Comanche. I've heard of Comanche. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
BG 183: 00:29:47.343 And Blackie, they was like the presidents and the one who
ran the Savage Skulls. They started a Puerto Rican-- what's the name? Puerto
00:30:00Rican Coalition Security.
Steven Payne: 00:30:06.840 Oh, the Black Skulls had something. The Black Spades
had something similar. Yeah.
BG 183: 00:30:11.327 So the Black had the Black Coalition, and then you had to
Spanish Coalition. And they both had security license to get contract for when
all these buildings was all abandoned, they went in and they're trying to make
them all brand new, renovate all these old buildings. So the Spanish had mostly
00:30:30all the South Bronx area because it was all dominated by Spanish people. And
then you had the Black Coalition that they will run Harlem at some part of The
Bronx. But I remember that I don't know who was stepping on whose territory, we
had to go to war. So now I'm working with that company. It was a security
00:31:00company. So I mean, I think it was like '79, '80. I'm working with them. They
used to pay like $30 for every eight hours. And that was pretty good money, $30
during that time. And I'm working with them on the weekend. So I would do a
16-hour shift. I'll do eight hours on a Saturday and eight hours on a Sunday.
00:31:30And I got to meet every gang member. Because every gang members was allowed and
any type. It could have been [inaudible], it could be Savage Nomad, Savage
[inaudible], it doesn't really matter. You will go and work because a lot of
these guys, they was probably uneducated or came out of jail, can't get a
regular job, so they will go there and get paid.
BG 183: 00:31:55.798 So I got to meet Fish. He was the president of the Savage
00:32:00Nomads, vice president. Got to meet him and we would honestly like really
hanging out almost every time I go to work that was like my friend so I got to
meet a guy called Machine Gun Eddie. So now I'm with the gang member but I'm
also at the same time I'm dressing still hip hop. I got my hip hop gear on. I
will go to work and that's how I was. it was like for me I never really saw
00:32:30there was violence going on. The violence was when you go to the clubs. When you
go when you go clubbing always in the ending of the club, there will always be
somebody or two or three people getting beat down. Why you looked at my girl,
why stepped on sneakers? Why are you looking at me funny? That was it. Back
00:33:00then, you would walk you never gave eye contact because the person will look, "
Yo, what the fuck you looking at?" "Do you have problems? What's up?" You'll be like--
Steven Payne: 00:33:15.857 I was just looking.
BG 183: 00:33:17.039 What's up? What's up? and the what's up? and then you go
like this, and that guy is like that and who was with who really [inaudible].
You have what I have. So that's how I was you know. So my crew had Simpson crew
00:33:30we was always together so we always go as a group and we leave as a group. You
know what I'm saying? Again we was not looking for no girls we went for the
music of the hip hop. Whoever was DJing and see who was wearing and then at the
same time who was going to get robbed that night.
Steven Payne: 00:33:57.822 Yeah.
BG 183: 00:33:57.994 So that was like we will be in the corner like this looking
00:34:00and this guy's getting robbed. This girl getting her hair pulled by another
girl, that this guy is fighting. This guy came through like this and now he's
running scared like I thought he was tough and he wasn't. Every weekend was like
that every Friday and Saturday.
Kurt Boone: 00:34:22.420 So did the hip hop flyers come across your desk and did
the artists [inaudible] you must have looked at the art or Phase 2 and some or
00:34:30the other writers were doing the flyers. So you and your brother were in the
music so anybody approach you about applying?
BG 183: 00:34:42.254 No, we did. We did flyers in the early 80s. We did flyers I
think Bio did flyers, I did flyers, help them out do flyer but again it was like
we did it and not thinking that. I probably saw a lot of Phase 2 flyer but I
looked at them. Anytime they give it you, you throw it out. I know where this is
00:35:00at and you throw it out. You're not thinking that anything with worth or
anything. And then during that time again I'm still broke like before I even
started working security with these guys, I needed to make money. So again I was
good artist and I used to go to these shows. I went to this to this party that I
used to have every weekend I used to go there and they always just used to stamp
00:35:30you and that's how you pay $2, they stamp you go in and then one day I think I
didn't wash my hand really good I went back and I went like this and I got in
for free. I said oh shit, I got in for free. But they were using the same staff
from the next day. And then and then I said to myself it took me a couple of
weeks I said maybe I could draw it. So I used to ask somebody to come over. "Let
00:36:00me see your stamp. Oh, stay right there." And I used to draw it exactly alike to
replicate it. "Okay. Thank you." [laughter] "Oh, why you want to look at my--"
"Thank you." Then, I went like this, and I got in for free again. [laughter] Oh,
shit. And then, after a while, my boys started saying, "How you got in?" I said,
"I could draw it." "Okay. You draw mine." So I drew all my boys. But we had to
00:36:30wait-- you can't go in too early. You got to go in when it-- almost packed. They
don't know who's in and out.
Steven Payne: 00:36:35.855 When they don't pay attention. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
BG 183: 00:36:36.644 And sometimes they change the person at the door. So you go
like this, and I was here earlier. Because back then, you was allowed to go in
and come out. I know you had a stamp, you could go in and out in case you want
to go to the store. So and then, I was saying, "Yo, maybe I'll go start charging
people." So and then, the [jam?] was like $3, I would charge a dollar-- yeah, I
think a dollar. So I made my dollar. Now, I'm making $20. I got $20 in my pocket
00:37:00with 20 people. Then the [jam?] was like $5. I used to charge $3. "I don't have
$3." "So you're not going in. So pay $5." Then, people used to get tough on me
like, "How do you know-- I'll give you the $3. But if I don't get in, I'm going
to come back." I said, "You're going to get in. Just relax, walk in like nothing
happened," or make you seem like you got a fake-- and then, they used to walk
00:37:30in, walk out, and that's how I made my money during that time with my art game.
So growing up, again, it was-- What high school you went to before? And then
after that, I went to James Monroe High School.
Steven Payne: 00:37:43.559 James Monroe High School. For sure, yeah.
BG 183: 00:37:44.641 It's one of those high school that was so bad that it was--
the reputation was no good. And for me, it was my district school. So when I
went there, who I saw? Everybody from my neighborhood, so. Everyone from your
00:38:00block. Yup. My brother's there. I remember my first time being at James Monroe
High School. They gave you a ticket to get your lunch. So I gave my ticket, and
I had sat down and I had left my coat and my book bag. And then, I went to get
my lunch, came back, and somebody was sitting in my chair. And I said, "Oh,
shit, somebody's sitting in my chair." And I see my brother, all my friends
00:38:30here. And I asked the guy, "Yo, you're sitting in my chair." And then he went,
"This is not your chair." Next thing, my brother said and my said, "Get up."
Then, "Oh, okay. I didn't know he was your brother?" and the guy got up. You
know what I'm saying? So I'm already connected at the school, so it was-- again,
I think I was blessed to be connected with a lot of people that was someone, you
know what I'm saying, had something going on during that time. And I think I
00:39:00grew up safe. I never had to worry about-- I used to wear big gold chains. I
still have gold chains, but I used to have a bigger gold chain. I used to walk
around in the '70s and the '80s. And I remember when people was getting shot for
the eight-ball jackets. And that was--
Kurt Boone: 00:39:24.305 And sheepskins.
BG 183: 00:39:25.271 And sheepskin or leather bombers. And I used to rock all
that kind of stuff because [inaudible] was right there, so.
Kurt Boone: 00:39:34.971 And you wasn't scared?
BG 183: 00:39:36.030 No. I used to walk around. People would say, "Yo, you're
crazy. Why? Yo."
Kurt Boone: 00:39:42.590 Yeah, I would never wear that. Yeah.
BG 183: 00:39:42.902 And then, the eight-ball-- I can get a [inaudible] like a
six-month to a year that on the front page was somebody dying from a eight-ball
jacket that-- he didn't want to give up this eight-ball jacket and he got
killed. Because the eight-ball jacket was made out of like a shearling,
00:40:00sheepskin material, but it was multi colors. And these jackets, they were like
from 900 to like 1,800-dollar jacket and they were custom-made, some of them.
And people, hey, if I take that from him, I could sell it easy for 500, 600
dollars. That was money back then. So I was lucky that, one, I didn't travel too
much away from my neighborhood.
Steven Payne: 00:40:26.259 Sure. Sure. Sure.
BG 183: 00:40:26.681 [crosstalk] if I did, they'd probably throw a-- I always
had it like that walking around with a grilled face and I think that helped out
00:40:30too. And my father always showed me like when you walk, always walk like you got
something in your pocket. That helped out. And then after that, it's you
yourself to say to yourself like, "Okay, I could do it." The same thing when I
first started and I started-- oh yeah, let me go back to James Moore High
School. So with the ticket, I remember doing the ticket time, and again, I was
00:41:00hungry and that time there was good food with hamburgers, meatloaf, hot dogs.
You don't get that in school anymore but back then, it was pretty good. So when
the day-- today was number 13. So you go use number 13 and the next day, 14, the
ticket. So the people that came in, they have a 13, they would throw it on the
floor. So what I did is I would pick up all the 13s or all the number threes
00:41:30like there's 23 or 43, anything with threes on it I used to grab it and make
them into eight. So I took all the threes, I just went like that with black ink
and I did it really perfect that you can't even tell it wasn't an eight. So now
I figured every number eight, I'm eating for free or I will sell that.
Kurt Boone: 00:42:00.342 You sell the tickets. Sell the tickets.
BG 183: 00:42:01.387 Sell the tickets. Because I think they were like-- I think
like 75 cents to a dollar to buy. If you didn't have a ticket, you pay a dollar
or something like that for lunch. So I sold them for 50 cents, [inaudible] 50
cents in high school, [inaudible], you know what I'm saying. And then people
started doing it taking out a number two trying to make it into an 8 and then I
think they realized that and then they started checking all the tickets. After
like a year or two years after I had a good run everybody started like-- jumped
00:42:30in the bandwagon and so again it was like growing up and using my ability to
just get by and to hustle, you know what I'm saying? It's simple hustle but it's
still something that I was doing for me to continue what I was doing and--
Steven Payne: 00:42:52.046 It's interesting because even before you got into
graffiti you were kind of drawn to I guess you could call like typeface or
things like that. Manipulating whether with the letters or even the stamp kind
00:43:00of is a kind of [crosstalk].
BG 183: 00:43:04.965 That helped me out. And so then after that so--
Kurt Boone: 00:43:09.519 What year you graduate high school?
BG 183: 00:43:11.459 I don't know like '83, '84.
Steven Payne: 00:43:15.345 Okay. '83, '84.
BG 183: 00:43:17.542 I was like a super senior when I graduated.
Kurt Boone: 00:43:19.955 Super senior. Okay, now you actually-- I've seen
interviews with you. You actually met some members of the TATS Crew in high, right?
BG 183: 00:43:30.301 Right.
Kurt Boone: 00:43:30.490 In high school.
BG 183: 00:43:31.260 Right. So yeah, so when I went to James Moore High School,
I had-- I was in already so as a junior year they gave me weight training, gym.
So I had a gym day. So I'm in the gym pumping it up and getting kind of big and
I had to bring my own locker. The locker because they allow you-- you have to
wear your gym clothes and that was the shorts and something, a T-shirt
00:44:00[inaudible] high school short was probably too short. I don't know. I never like
it, the shorts, but you had to wear it. But I remember one time when I came back
for the second semester of school, I didn't have a lock. So shit. I need to put
my clothes somewhere. So I looked around and looked around I saw this skinny guy
with some glasses on, I said, "Yo, can I put my clothes?" and I'm like, "Can I
00:44:30put my clothes?" and the guy looked at me like, "Right. Right." He said, "All
right" but in his mind, he probably was saying, "What the fuck. I ain't going to
give you" and then, I said, "No. No. I just wanted to put my clothes." In his
mind, he probably thought I was trying to rob them. I said, "No, I was really
being fair. Yo, really, I want to put my clothes there. And then when we meet
again and when the period is over, I would get my clothes back." So he said,
"All right." Then I saw him, I waited for him, and then I got my clothes and I
00:45:00said, "Don't worry. Tomorrow I'll bring my lock and I don't have to use you."
And I forgot again. [laughter] I think when I went home, I started hanging out,
whatever the case, I went back and I saw the guy again, and he looked at me
like, "Damn, man. This guy still--" I know in his mind, he says, "I don't want
to talk to this guy. This guy's trying to get me." So I put my clothes back in,
boom, and then the third or fourth day again, I forgot my lock again. And I was
00:45:30like, "Damn, I keep forgetting my lock."
BG 183: 00:45:37.535 Then I remember buying it and I left it there to grab, but
I left the house too early and then the third or fourth day, I didn't see the
guy no more. So I just got to put it somewhere and put it anywhere. So now I'm
in a major art class. They gave it because I was a good artist and I was
drawing. That time was the earlier of graffiti for me. And I look and it's like
00:46:0025 minutes to a period I think it was, right?
Kurt Boone: 00:46:10.922 About 30 minutes. Yeah. 30 minutes. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
BG 183: 00:46:12.968 So I'm sitting here and there's a guy sitting in front of
me. But all day, he's like this, look at this. Here you go. So all day, he's
00:46:30like this. Troy. And I would like-- and then after like 15 minutes of the class,
I kept looking and it's the guy, did I take the--
Kurt Boone: 00:46:44.418 The lock.
BG 183: 00:46:44.728 Did I share my lock? I said, "Yo, what's up? Yo, man. How
you doing?" And he's looking at me, "Oh yeah, yeah. I'm doing art also." And
then I look and he's doing letters. I said, "Oh, you doing letters." And it
turned out to be Bio.
Steven Payne: 00:46:59.855 That's crazy.
BG 183: 00:47:01.082 And I said, "What you doing?" He said, "Doing my name,
B-I-O." I said, "Oh, that's cool man. I'm doing my name, BG." And then the next
thing, we became partners and partners in crime to this day, so.
Steven Payne: 00:47:15.935 It all started out in gym class.
BG 183: 00:47:17.351 Yeah. Started out in gym class then we became good friends
and I kept telling him, "Yo, I want to be nice, or every day, I went on a
mission to be really nice" and he say, "One of the things that you have to
00:47:30probably do is your hand style." So he had good hand style. I said, "Okay, maybe
I have to go." So, every day, I started practicing hand style. It's like, if you
go into break dancing, you have to have footwork. You can't go start break
dancing without any footwork. So, in graffiti, it's the hand style before you do
anything else. So you do the hand style and then you do the throw-up. The
throw-up is a simple letters you fill in really fast, and then you do the simple
00:48:00style, then you fill in with colors in the background, and you have to wild
style like phase two. And he's one of the guys that I looked up to.
Kurt Boone: 00:48:11.901 So let's go back because I really want to explore early
style writing, just the fundamentals in high school, right? So you meet Bio, and
he's already aware of style writing--
BG 183: 00:48:26.653 Yeah. He's already because he's--
Kurt Boone: 00:48:27.534 --because the trains were already hit at this time, so
he was already kind of aware. Did he introduce you to it, or how did--?
BG 183: 00:48:35.169 No. No. I already had seen it.
Kurt Boone: 00:48:37.516 You'd seen it too. Okay.
BG 183: 00:48:38.230 I'd seen it because, again, I took the subway from where I
live at James Monroe High School.
Steven Payne: 00:48:43.737 [crosstalk] James Monroe. Yeah. Yeah.
BG 183: 00:48:44.178 So that was a 6 line, and that was run by Duster, The
Seen, UA, UBA. You had a lot of old writer like Part. That's Part of that. He
was like the king of the 6 line. I didn't even know that till years later.
Kurt Boone: 00:49:02.215 Two years later. Okay.
BG 183: 00:49:03.224 No. I mean, years later to now that he was the king of the
6 line. He had so many pieces on the 6 line that I never really saw [inaudible]--
Kurt Boone: 00:49:12.492 But did you know it was-- okay.
BG 183: 00:49:13.483 Right, because he was doing them in the 70s, and during the
70s, I wasn't really--
Steven Payne: 00:49:17.034 You weren't taking the train as much, huh?
BG 183: 00:49:18.729 I was taking the train, but I wasn't aware of the graph.
Kurt Boone: 00:49:21.247 Oh, the graphs, right? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Kurt Boone: 00:49:22.453 The graph from that slate on right now, and nobody talk
about graph. You would pass all graffiti walls. You won't pay attention now. But
00:49:30if they mention it now, you'd be like, "Oh, look. That's graffiti over there.
Oh, look. That's more graffiti." Now you start seeing the name. "Oh, yeah. It's
the same name I saw in Brooklyn. He's up in The Bronx here." But that's how it
starts, so. And that makes you want to go, "I want to be a graffiti artist." So
during that time, I was already good at finger painting. I was already good of
pencils. I was good in black and white ink. I was already good in acrylic paint
00:50:00doing all you. I was doing still life. I was doing contour drawing. Anything
that was art related, I was ready. I was really good at it already. Even my
teacher taught me-- she would put a person. "Can you draw that person?" The
whole day, you would draw. It was like major art. And I would draw, and I would
say, "It looks nice." And my teacher would be like, "Doesn't look good." And I
00:50:30said, "What are you talking about? It looks good." He said, "Look, the person is
tall, and you made the person on your drawing look like a midget." [laughter]
The proportion wasn't good, but for me, it was perfect. She showed me. She said,
"This is a circle, circle, circle, and this is how you do it. The elbow lands
here, and that's it." And then that's what I started doing. I said, "Oh, oh, oh,
okay." And then now, I'm on proportion, and then she will be like-- her name was
Miss Jorkins. She'll be like, "Okay. Today we're going to draw this flower." So
00:51:00we draw the flowers. And then tomorrow will be like, "Okay. We're going to draw
the flower in 15 minutes or today 10 minutes. Today, we're going to draw it in 5
minutes." And you're like, "Oh, we're going to draw it." You have people
complain, "We can't do all that." She said, "Just draw it, so."
BG 183: 00:51:19.207 And then she was showing me, "Sometimes you don't have to
put a lot of details to make it look like a flower. You can just do a couple
images, and it looks like flowers." So at the same time, she was showing me
00:51:30different way of art but not really physically grabbing my hand. She was saying,
"Look. This is what you have to do." So all my skills was getting better. Then
when the same thing when it came doing graffiti, there's no teacher for this, so
you really had to learn by myself. And that's how I improve my skills. You know
what I'm saying? Bio was doing his, and then at the same time, we had a couple
00:52:00more graffiti artists that was also the class.
Kurt Boone: 00:52:05.272 In the class.
BG 183: 00:52:06.342 We had Bom 5. We had Bom 5. We had another guy called
Pome. This guy was really good with doing [letter?].
Kurt Boone: 00:52:15.328 How do you spell it?
BG 183: 00:52:16.392 P-O-M-E, Pome. So these guys was really good at what they
were doing. And I Bonfire had really dope hand style and he had a good simple
style. And the Pome had almost a wicked wild style, simple style. So they were
00:52:30the one who was like-- I would look at their style. And then after a while, I
started doing my own stuff because that's how you start. If somebody's dancing,
they had a particular foot movement, you will follow that but then you add your own.
Kurt Boone: 00:52:56.304 Add your own. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
BG 183: 00:52:57.097 You add a twist to it. So that's what I started doing. And
00:53:00then to get into the graffiti world--
Kurt Boone: 00:53:05.319 Because Bonfire wasn't his real name. So, obviously, in
high school, was this styling by you, or was he--?
BG 183: 00:53:14.091 Actually, his name is Wilfredo. So he was doing Wil, W-I-L.
Kurt Boone: 00:53:20.958 And then what did you start doing?
BG 183: 00:53:23.120 I was doing other name. I had a name called Gap, G-A-P-P. I
didn't like it. I didn't like it. So then I had another name I didn't like. I
00:53:30don't remember the name I was using. So every name I didn't like--
Steven Payne: 00:53:37.972 Try them out. Yeah.
BG 183: 00:53:38.993 Yeah. Then the only name that I like is because after a
while, again, I was playing softball. So I was real nice. So they'll be man,
second, and third. And we losing, they'd be like, "Yo, bring the battles in." So
that's what I used to do like. I was so nice that I could head over first. I
could have over third. I'm [going to push it?]. So I used to bring the battles
00:54:00in. [inaudible] Bring, Bring, [crosstalk]. I said, "Oh, Bring. That sounds like
a good name." [laughter] So I started doing B-R-I-N-G, but it was too long. So I
cut it down to BG. I took the first letter and last letter and put it together.
And then the number came about-- So I had a guy from [James Moore?] High School
called Griff. And every day we used to battle. The battle was we take any name
00:54:30and we do it once and we do it again two time and we do it again a third time.
So we say, "Okay, cool." So I did the first time. And then the second time I
changed the style. The third one I changed the style. And he says, "Do a fourth
one." and I got stuck. I couldn't do a fourth style and he did a fourth. So I
kind of lost that battle. I said, "Oh, man, I lost." So I went back and I
00:55:00practiced some more. I did maybe up to six. So we did the same thing a different
name. We did the same thing. And he went up and did two more than me. [laughter]
Man, this guy is really good. [laughter] And I think it was summertime I was
walking home and I went by this-- I think it was this paper company that did cardboard.
BG 183: 00:55:27.186 And they had these 2x3 rows, black. They was throwing the
00:55:30garbage, so I asked the guy, "Look, can I take this?" He said, "That's garbage.
You can take it." So I don't know how much it was, 50 to 60 of them. I grabbed
it and I started walking. And then one guy started screaming, "Yo what you
doing? That's not garbage." The next thing you know, I'm running [laughter] with
a whole bunch of paper. And I got home. He probably gave up on me. And that was
where I used to-- the whole summer, instead of being--
Steven Payne: 00:55:59.152 You're practicing on that, yeah.
BG 183: 00:56:00.416 And I was practicing every day. What I did is I would do a
00:56:00line straight in the middle and I do like cross and I do another lines. I do
like three lines and I made these small rectangle boxes so I could do maybe
almost like 30 to 36 of them and then I would do the style. I do one style here.
Then I take that, I say, "Okay I like the way my B is looking on this one. I'm
going to use that B. I don't like the G. I change the G." Then I come back again
00:56:30and I say, "Okay I like it maybe change the B a little bit, but I like the first
G." And I keep going like that. Oh. [crosstalk] So to learn and then again,
there's no money really behind me--
Kurt Boone: 00:56:49.400 Explain it. Yeah.
BG 183: 00:56:50.474 --so I just took ideas. At that time there was no books
yet, so there's nothing to follow. Remember there's no Internet that you could
Google everything now, so.
Kurt Boone: 00:57:01.624 Did you [have?] 149th Street, Writer's Bench at that time?
BG 183: 00:57:05.721 The bench, yeah. Yeah, I did that.
Kurt Boone: 00:57:07.827 You did that? Oh.
BG 183: 00:57:08.249 Yeah, I could tell you that in the few.
Kurt Boone: 00:57:09.749 Okay, cool.
BG 183: 00:57:10.020 So again, I drew my name. So let me get that pen.
Kurt Boone: 00:57:15.096 Yeah, here you go.
Steven Payne: 00:57:15.588 Oh, yeah, yeah. Sure.
Kurt Boone: 00:57:16.232 Oh, okay. Here. [crosstalk] Because [inaudible] the
BG 183: 00:57:18.441 So again if I did a B - so I did a BG 183. That's pretty
00:57:30quick. And then I take it--
Kurt Boone: 00:57:54.595 But you explain it. You got to the B and G, but you was
talking about how to get to 183.
BG 183: 00:57:59.874 I do like this and then what I did is I go like this and I
00:58:00flip it over, and you still could see a BG 183. Put it against the light.
Kurt Boone: 00:58:16.875 Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Steven Payne: 00:58:17.213 Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I see.
Kurt Boone: 00:58:18.787 I can see it. Wait. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Steven Payne: 00:58:22.384 I'll also scan it, too, so it'll show up.
BG 183: 00:58:24.596 You see how you still say it still read BG183?
Steven Payne: 00:58:25.648 Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
BG 183: 00:58:27.323 So this is a way that I started teaching myself because now
00:58:30the style is always different. Whatever you turn it, it's a letter.
Kurt Boone: 00:58:36.241 It's a letter. Oh.
Steven Payne: 00:58:36.962 That's [easy?].
BG 183: 00:58:37.445 So you go like this, you get a U and over here you got a W.
And then here you get all different style when you reverse the letters.
Steven Payne: 00:58:47.793 Yeah.
BG 183: 00:58:48.034 Here, I could say, okay this will look like a nice E.
Kurt Boone: 00:58:52.760 High school, right? This was. [inaudible]
BG 183: 00:58:53.686 This was in high school. This is me at home--
Kurt Boone: 00:58:56.837 At home, okay.
BG 183: 00:58:57.356 --doing this and then the 183 again started with the guy,
Griff. So in the end I got to beat him. He said, "You look like you got a 183 styles."
Kurt Boone: 00:59:07.820 That's funny.
BG 183: 00:59:08.579 So I kept the number just to mess with him.
Kurt Boone: 00:59:12.117 Just to mess with him. Oh.
BG 183: 00:59:13.297 183 styles, so that's how the 183 started with the BG 183.
Kurt Boone: 00:59:17.315 Yeah. That's amazing story.
Steven Payne: 00:59:19.330 That's wild.
BG 183: 00:59:19.938 So and this is how I started. This is where if I teach
somebody how to do grab, I say, "Look, this what you have to do," and they be
amazed. "Oh, I didn't know. Wow, look. I could get numbers." You get numbers.
00:59:30You get whatever you want and that's it is. So then I started doing the 183. It
doesn't really matter like what I do and just for now it's just having fun.
Again, there's no erasing, it's all just freestyling.
Kurt Boone: 00:59:54.580 Okay. So, you're in high school and at that time, high
schoolers were out there hitting trains and doing pieces in black books so to
01:00:00develop relationships at 149th Street and tag other people's black books? Or did
you keep your black books or how--
BG 183: 01:00:13.063 So before the 149th Street, first, you have to be accepted
in the graffiti world. It's not like I'm a graffiti artist and people are going
to come up to me and say, "Oh, you make graffiti? Oh." Even when I first
started, it's like you're a toy. [inaudible]. No, I was a toy. Everybody starts
01:00:30as a toy. It's like you as being a writer doing poetry. People are not going to
read your stuff. "Oh, look. I just wrote this." And they're like, "Oh, okay."
But now, people see your work, they want to read it.
Kurt Boone: 01:00:47.826 They want to read it.
BG 183: 01:00:48.151 Each one. So that's how it started. So with me, I had the
group of guys in James Memorial High School. They probably in the game for two,
three, four years in the game and so I'll try to fit in. So I would go with
01:01:00them, smiling. They making a joke and I'm like [laughter]. I'm laughing too. And
then they all say, "Okay we're going to go street bombing." And then I will
follow them. They'll be like, "What are you going?" I said, "I'm going to
write." "No, no, no. We don't know you." So you got to wait. Said, "Oh, shit."
So I would hang-- I still would hang out with them. I'm like that guy. "Who's
01:01:30this guy here? Anybody know this guy here?" I was that guy.
Kurt Boone: 01:01:36.453 You're that guy.
Steven Payne: 01:01:36.613 Yeah.
BG 183: 01:01:37.383 So they didn't want to accept me as a writer so I have to--
so, again, I go into the phases. I found a whole bunch of papers. My skill
level's going up but yet I'm not getting accepted in the graffiti world and I
really-- so I went up by myself. Hearing the story, first is how you paint a
01:02:00train. Where you go? I don't know that. Where can I go? But hearing them talk,
they were like, "Oh, you could go up to a layup." A layup is like an elevated
train. Then they park them in the center between two train station in the
summer. Reason why they park them in the summer because it's warm. It's easy to
start the train, to put them back in the express line. So I heard that and then
01:02:30I took the train and I saw it park after rush hour. After 7:00 PM, they would
start laying them up.
Steven Payne: 01:02:43.913 Yeah. Which station did you see first like that?
BG 183: 01:02:45.150 From Elder to Soundview, from Soundview to St. Lawrence,
from St. Lawrence to Castle Hill, and then I think it was St. Lawrence to
Parkchester, from Parkchester to Castle Hill. And then you had the Middletown
01:03:00Row. I didn't go too far out because I was like the white graffiti artist. They
catch you over there, they will beat you down. So--
Kurt Boone: 01:03:12.455 We heard stories about that.
BG 183: 01:03:12.821 --the Spanish people-- so anywhere that I know I'm going to
get hurt, there's no reason for me to go. You know what I'm saying? Let's be
smart about this. And so I went to that and I remember I got my first-- I went
01:03:30to a store and I racked a total of six cans
Steven Payne: 01:03:35.098 yeah.
BG 183: 01:03:35.451 But I only brought two to go to the layup because-- and
then I've been practicing my throw-up. I've been doing my throw-up. I've been
practicing. I used to go to my backyard where I used to live at in the basement,
practice, and practice. And now, I think I'm good enough to do this job. So I
get to the train. I'm there by myself. I'm looking around. Nobody in the station
01:04:00so I jump down. And I blew my throw-up.
Steven Payne: 01:04:11.403 Yeah,
BG 183: 01:04:11.664 [inaudible]. My heart is pumping, ta, ta, ta, ta.
Kurt Boone: 01:04:15.138 Yeah. What'd you write?
BG 183: 01:04:17.691 All right. I did my throw a BG.
Kurt Boone: 01:04:19.907 BG, not one in [inaudible].
BG 183: 01:04:20.996 No, not one in [inaudible]. BG, ta, ta, ta, ta. [inaudible]
come up. I did. So then I went back and I went back to the group and I say, "Oh
01:04:30I just did trains. You did trains?" I said, "Yeah, the trains." And they were
like, "Okay, cool." And I did one car boom, they said, "You did what?" I said,
"They want car." They said, "You did all 10 cars." because there's 10 cars. You
didn't do one car he did 10 cars. You trying to say you did 10 cars and like,
"Yeah I did 10 cars." And I was like, "Okay." then I went, "Okay, [inaudible] I
01:05:00got to do 10 cars. So I went back by myself again, I jumped in the track and I
did all like one name in each car.
Steven Payne: 01:05:09.996 Wow, okay.
BG 183: 01:05:10.554 And I went back. I think I spoke to the same guy again, I
said, "Yo, I guess the train again yesterday, they were lay up and I did the
whole set of 10 cars." They said, "You did 10 cars?" I said, "Yeah." "You did
both sides or you did one side?" I said, "Oh God."
Kurt Boone: 01:05:29.878 They've been hard.
Steven Payne: 01:05:30.907 Got to go back.
BG 183: 01:05:31.583 I had said, "Got to go back." because in bombing you got a
bomb. And so you can't go and do one and you done because who's going to see?
That's like, I don't know how many cars in a subway system but you're not going
to see your name when nobody going to really going to see your name, so. And now
I did one, I got 11 cars. Next time I went, I did front and back. So now I got
front and back, and then at the same time there was not only one set of trains
01:06:00but there was other set of train. So you went to all of them or you just went to
one station earlier [crosstalk]. So now I went back and did all the different stations.
Steven Payne: 01:06:15.085 All on the 6?
BG 183: 01:06:15.963 All on the 6 train [crosstalk].
Steven Payne: 01:06:17.042 Yeah.
Kurt Boone: 01:06:17.331 [inaudible] you were had traffic?
BG 183: 01:06:18.854 No, I'm not. This is the way of bombing. This is
[inaudible]. Again, there's no book you can read it's showing how to do this.
You had to really know someone that done it before and that could help you. I
01:06:30remember this is all underground and no one really has a faith. You don't know
who's really is a bomb or a tiger. [inaudible] going to be like, "Yo I'm doing
trains and publicize it to any." So the only people that knew that I knew was
these guys and nobody else. And then from there I was doing trains and now I'm
in like about three months doing this trains. Doing my throw-up everywhere, I'm
taking the tag BG then I think I started doing the BG 183 and I couldn't see my
01:07:00name on the train.
Steven Payne: 01:07:07.515 Yeah.
Kurt Boone: 01:07:07.704 [inaudible], okay.
BG 183: 01:07:08.628 I said, "Why I've been-- I'm done mourning like 200 cars or
300 cars that came, why can't see it." And then I started speaking into bio and
buy and say, "Oh." And he said, "Don't worry about it. If you can't see it,
somebody else is seeing it." But I said, "I got me a little happy." but now I
became sad again like, "No I want to see it. I want to see what I'm doing." And
01:07:30then another three weeks pass by, I look up to the train, and what I see, my
name. BG. Then I went up again and went up again and I buy your bio, come on man
that's me and you go up. He said, "For real." I said, "Yeah come on it's me."
And then me and him started going up and doing all these bombing together and he
became my graffiti partner and we got a whole bunch of cans. And we said, "We're
01:08:00going to do my first piece on the train. So I went, "Okay."
Kurt Boone: 01:08:10.741 Masterpiece.
BG 183: 01:08:11.707 So it was one of the coldest days, I think it was Christmas
time. So I did a BGee and I was doing B, G with two Es. So I was doing BGees. It
was funky for me so I did a B-G-E-E, and I remember spraying and I was catching
01:08:30these drips and I was looked at nasty, it was ugly. But the colors were good but
the drip was so crazy and I was really upset with it because I caught so many
drips because-- that's how you could tell when somebody got experience. The way
they spray, if they sprayed with a lot of drip you already know that this guy is
a rookie, a toy. And I was a toy, so I went like that. I looked at it. And then
01:09:00I saw two other guys on the platform, they also was writers. And then when it
came by they were like, "Oh my God that shit look awesome, that shit look good.
Yo, you really did it," and I said to myself, "Come on, man. You joking right?"
They said, "Nah, BGee you rock. You and Bio killed it, yo. Your guys rocked it."
I said, "For real?" And he said, "Yeah that shit look hot. It's the hottest shit
running right now." Oh yeah? And that gave me more confidence to go back out
01:09:30there to do more.
Steven Payne: 01:09:37.003 Absolutely what was that first piece? Do you remember--
BG 183: 01:09:39.209 Yeah.
Steven Payne: 01:09:39.294 --the layout?
BG 183: 01:09:39.595 I actually have a--
Steven Payne: 01:09:40.849 You've got a picture, okay.
BG 183: 01:09:41.010 --photo, I have a photo of it. I actually put it up on my
Instagram not too long ago. So I did that and then and then you start hearing
about writers going to this place called 149th Street in the Bench. I said, "Oh
the Bench? What's that?" That's 149th street and Grand Concourse. You go there
01:10:00and the bottom level on the uptown side where the 2 and the 5 train pass is the
Bench. That's where all the writers hang out. So I went there and then it was a
scary place to be. People that wasn't even writers was hanging out there
Steven Payne: 01:10:25.935 yeah.
BG 183: 01:10:26.080 They were called stick-up kids. They were robbing people
for anything. They wasn't out robbing for graffiti, they was robbing in general,
01:10:30a gold chain--
Kurt Boone: 01:10:33.942 Money. Yeah, money.
BG 183: 01:10:35.243 --a pair of sneakers, or a coat--
Steven Payne: 01:10:37.280 [Coast?] had a story about that, yeah.
BG 183: 01:10:37.606 --a jacket. You know what I'm saying? And we was like,
"That's the place you go when you want to rob," because that's all the
connection. You can go downtown or you go uptown and you could see the people
and back then it was some stairs that you-- there was a stair there, they took
it down. There was an elevator there, they took that down. You would go up to
01:11:00the elevator and it was an overpass and you could stand in the middle and look
at the whole station, then you come down to the other side. But the whole
platform got taken down. But that was the way you go from the downtown to the
uptown and that's where everybody met. In the movie you see them all hanging out
on the Bench and they're talking about what was new coming to the station.
That's why the 5 and 2 became more like the most viewed and envied trains. So
01:11:30that's why I stood by the 6 train or 2 or the 5, and that's the only train that
I really really hit because those are more the main stations where everybody
will look at. And it was easier also to take photos because the train will run
through Intervale, and Intervale was the station that you could go here and go
underneath and come back here without getting off. All the rest of stations you
01:12:00had to physically get off and go around, so this you could connect so you had
like the one [inaudible] you got the [inaudible] on. I mean [inaudible] when you
had also interval that was like a platform and then the bench but people used it
and took pictures there. People went there for one, you bring your black book
and you have famous people coming right on your black book. If you got your
black book back because sometimes you gave it and it was gone.
Kurt Boone: 01:12:33.675 They take it? Yeah, they took it, like, "Where's my
black book? You got my black book." I gave it to you I know but I gave it to
this guy and I don't know what happened. And probably the first guy you gave it
to took it but he thinks this guy I gave it to this guy he just jumped on the
train with it. The book is gone. And then in a book you had like already famous
people on there so your book is gone. And maybe that same guy got his book that
book taken from him. It was like a time that if you was not really a tough
01:13:00writer or somebody was on point you got your shit taken even you gave a marker
to somebody, your marker was gone. Where's my marker? I don't know I used it
last, I don't know what happened to it. So that's the way it was so you got to
be-- that's why I really didn't bring no black book there like I didn't want to
be like damn man.
Kurt Boone: 01:13:24.781 Did you save any of yours?
BG 183: 01:13:26.759 I have a few, not too many. Not too many. I actually got
01:13:30lost one that I had and I started a new one but I never got to finish it but it
just that's the way. For me I didn't even took a lot of photos on my work. I got
people like Ken, Sam, this guy named Rise that he took a lot of photos of my
stuff like Bio, took a lot of photos of his stuff. Mac, Sam I already mentioned
him but that was the e days for people that was part of my crew, you know what
01:14:00I'm saying like they were making sure they were taking photos and so again we
started with the TATS CRU, They put me down with TAT. Brim was the one in
charge. With Brim there was Mack, Base, and Bio. So those four they met in
junior high school and I met Bio in high school when he got to a high school a
Kurt Boone: 01:14:28.452 So you already had a crew when you met them?
BG 183: 01:14:30.407 Yeah. There was already a crew, it was TAT but they were
01:14:30mostly like three bombers and you then buy [inaudible] doing pieces with colors
but I went in there and started doing like let's do crazy pieces, you know what
I'm saying? I started doing characters. So I was really doing stuff I got and
now so me and Bio decided to do like a train and that's when the White Elephant
Steven Payne: 01:15:01.467 Oh okay okay.
BG 183: 01:15:02.397 The White Elephant is the train that like the MTA said
these trains if you write on these trains your paint will just fall off. So it's
not going to stick yeah so there's a lot of writers that was painting in the 70s
like the scene and days, CRASH.
Kurt Boone: 01:15:23.482 Riff.
BG 183: 01:15:24.699 Riff, they stopped writing completely and a lot of them
went into the galleries. They went to the galleries.
Kurt Boone: 01:15:33.470 [inaudible].
BG 183: 01:15:34.205 Yeah, all those guys went to the galleries. So the next
generation, we're the third generation of graffiti artists that went into the
80s and started like-- for us it was like you know like I don't care about the
galleries, all the doing canvases. I want to paint trains. I'm in the beginning,
I'm really in, I'm enjoying it and then the White Elephant came out, oh my God
that was like a white paper. It was clean like they're giving us a white trend.
01:16:00So colors would be so rich when you paint on top of them.
Steven Payne: 01:16:13.003 And you could paint on them, right, despite of what
BG 183: 01:16:15.015 Yeah. You could. Yeah. There was no dripping. There was nothing.
Kurt Boone: 01:16:19.135 So it stuck.
BG 183: 01:16:20.599 It stuck like a regular canvas board.
Kurt Boone: 01:16:22.839 Exactly. Yeah. Yeah.
BG 183: 01:16:23.736 So now you're hitting these trends, and I'm loving it. My
style is improving to top-notch and my other-- and let me put down the volume.
01:16:30And so now I'm enjoying it. And then a lot of my crew members was like, "Yeah,
Bijoux, you're the nicest one in the crew. Can you do me an outline?" So I was
doing outline for my crew. I was kind of the ghostwriter. So I was ghostwriting
01:17:00a lot of pieces then for my crew, and I didn't mind doing it. I was like, "Wow."
And then a couple of months or a year, they stopped calling me. Like, "I don't
want nothing--" They got their own style. They're already improving everything,
so. And life changed a little bit. Then I started hanging out with Brim, and we
met with Afrika Bambaataa. And now, Afrika Bambaataa, he asked me and Brim to
01:17:30paint the inside of the Bronx River Center. So we painted the inside where all
these people perform [inaudible]. If you look back in the videos, it's called
Body Rock. You see all my graffiti that I did in the video. And there's
01:18:00characters, there's records, there's the Zulu Nation. We painted the Zulu Nation
inside the center. So it was me and Brim that painted the inside.
Steven Payne: 01:18:15.293 It's amazing.
BG 183: 01:18:15.562 A lot of people don't really know that history, that I
painted the whole inside.
Steven Payne: 01:18:20.180 And what year was that?
BG 183: 01:18:21.497 It was like '82, '83-- around there.
Steven Payne: 01:18:24.255 '83, yeah, yeah. So yeah, yeah, yeah.
BG 183: 01:18:26.360 So if you Google it, you see all my pieces that I did.
Steven Payne: 01:18:30.245 It's amazing.
BG 183: 01:18:30.523 Yeah. And the thing is again I didn't take no photo of me
01:18:30actually making it, but everybody knows it was me because the style--
Steven Payne: 01:18:37.788 The style, for sure.
BG 183: 01:18:39.140 --was there, so. And then I did that. And then I also did
the first hip-hop on TV. Because nobody haven't done any type of [inaudible] and
graffiti and breakdancing. I saw almost like a TV show-- almost before MTV,
01:19:00before BET-- was a show called Graffiti Rock.
Steven Payne: 01:19:09.331 Graffiti Rock. Okay, okay.
BG 183: 01:19:10.783 So me, Brim, and Sien, we did the graffiti for that show.
That was aired on a Saturday PIX Channel 11. And then they played it again a
second time, but it was never picked up. They felt that it was kind of too
01:19:30grimy. PIX felt like, "Oh, I don't think that's going to make money," and they
canceled it. So it was only one show. The show was great. You still can see it.
You can still see it online.
Steven Payne: 01:19:47.025 YouTube, probably.
BG 183: 01:19:47.988 Yeah. You could YouTube it. It's called Graffiti Rock. So
me and Brim and Sien125 actually painted this, so.
Steven Payne: 01:19:55.208 Wow.
BG 183: 01:19:55.919 And my movement into the craft was always there, being in
01:20:00the right place at the right time. We did the Scuffle of Bambara. We did the
Renegade of Funk. That's a video that Shame and Brim comes out . And the first
member that passed away, Dive-- not Dive, Dale.
Steven Payne: 01:20:23.574 Dale.
BG 183: 01:20:23.949 Yeah. My friend, Dale, he passed away and later on I
actually did a memorial wall for Dale. And that was really my first time drawing
01:20:30somebody's face with spray paint. Like taking a spray can and drawing the eyes,
the nose. And it took me like three days. The first day I finished it but they
say, "Oh, maybe you come back the next day add some more." And I did that. And
then the third day we went back because that time there was no time. Take your
time and everything. We're doing it for ourselves. We was not getting paid to
01:21:00put it up a memorial wall for our friend. That's the first member of our crew
that died so we did that. And then I also painted a Rest in Peace for Cowboy,
for the Grandmaster Flash. So me and Brim at Bronx Coast Center, we went and we
painted Cowboy. It was one of the first memorial wall for a rapper that passed
away that we painted, again, in the early '80s. So during that time, life,
01:21:30studying and I mean getting older, I'm already 19 going on 20, it was trying to
pay bills. My mom said "Yo, you got to get a job." Because I always worked.
Again, I worked with the security on Nighthawk with Comanche that was making money
BG 183: 01:21:59.073 So I was always making but I needed a more of a steady,
01:22:00like a 9 to 5 job. So my father put me on to work with him. So I was working
with my father for a good three years. And again, he used to work in a door
company, picking up hollow metal doors and frames. And these doors and frames
whatever, they were heavy. And for apartment houses-- and during that time, a
01:22:30lot of apartment houses was getting built in the '80s. So I was working for a
company. Now what I did was just sand it down, with sand, with a machine, turn
it down, wipe it, flip it, do the same thing on the other side of the door, and
then hang it to be painted. And each door was about 80 pounds, 90 pounds. Some
doors was like 150 pounds depending on what kind of size and the material. so I
01:23:00remember the first, the next two or three days, my body was aching. I couldn't
close my hand because the machine was vibrating. And my mom came up to me, I was
laying in the bed covered up like this and she saying, "Do you want some
Tylenol?" And I'm like, "Nah, I'm good. I'm good." Trying to be tough. She said,
"Are you sure?" "Yeah, give it to me." I took the Tylenol and then after a
01:23:30couple of days in there, it was good. I was picking up the doors.
Steven Payne: 01:23:34.528 Yeah. You got used to it.
Kurt Boone: 01:23:35.504 No problems.
BG 183: 01:23:35.822 I was strong, I was [inaudible]. So it was a good time and
at the same time I used to meet up with the guys we used to go and maybe paint
trains. But it was a while we did the Ghost Yard. the Ghost Yard was on 207th
Street and that was a yard that it was only us, no one else could go in. Anyone
who went in, they left with their head crack and sneakers their sneakers taken,
01:24:00jewelry We had
Steven Payne: 01:24:08.151 What line was that on?
BG 183: 01:24:09.433 It was a yard, it's on the one line.
Steven Payne: 01:24:12.222 On the one line, that's what I thought.
BG 183: 01:24:13.339 It's on the west side on 207 and I think I don't know if
it's Broadway or--
Steven Payne: 01:24:18.641 Yeah, I think so.
BG 183: 01:24:19.280 Might be Broadway.
Kurt Boone: 01:24:20.184 Yeah, Broadway. yeah.
BG 183: 01:24:21.529 So that's on the one train so--
Kurt Boone: 01:24:23.679 So was TK like to go [inaudible].
BG 183: 01:24:26.167 T Kid was also part of the crew. You met TK?
Kurt Boone: 01:24:29.501 T Kid.
BG 183: 01:24:29.993 Yeah, so T Kid was a guy who was connected to the ghost
01:24:30yard so he was already in. So I met T Kid through Ken. I met T Kid and he
introduced us to the ghost yard. And I remember painting with him and this guy
was so fast because he was really old school guy from the mid 70s. So I met him
in the 80s so this guy was like so fast. He was like [inaudible]. He did a train
01:25:00with us. It was a T Kid CanaBG 183 and he also did two more cars. I know one car
but he did a boost and a T Kid. Like he did all three names while I was still
working on one but I also did the characters on that train. But this guy was
really, really fast. So he introduced us to go in the tour of [inaudible] so I
01:25:30was like one of the first member of TAT to go in there to me T Kid and Ken also
got me in there also so.
Kurt Boone: 01:25:39.489 Kid is from [inaudible]
BG 183: 01:25:40.818 Who T Kid?
Kurt Boone: 01:25:41.413 T Kid.
BG 183: 01:25:42.284 Kenny with two Ns. K-E-N-N and then his partner with CEM 2.
These two guys were notorious in a graff world. You hear those two guys come in,
you run. Your shit was taken. There was no surviving. Everybody got robbed. They
01:26:00robbed Coke 2, they robbed everybody. They didn't care. They did care who you
were, you know what I'm saying? And you was just I don't care.
Steven Payne: 01:26:16.597 Are they still around? They still in the graff world?
BG 183: 01:26:18.258 Yeah. They're still active. They're still active. You know
what I'm saying.
Kurt Boone: 01:26:21.870 So they were part of TAT?
BG 183: 01:26:23.179 Yeah, they're part of TAT. So that's how TAT got to grow
more, again when we went back to the bench at 149th Street in Grand Concourse,
01:26:30how cool was Big, already had a reputation and people already knew TAT was not
playing. We would rob everybody, we were punching people in the face. You know
what I'm saying? All the writers, they had to respect us. You know what I'm
saying. Remember we was in our age like again the hip hop world was there so it
was people was afraid of us. You know what I'm saying? I knew that and you had
01:27:00paint and that time you got to understand like when I got in the 80s a lot of
the paint stores was very burnt out. So you couldn't really go racking. Because
all the old school writers from the 70s up to the 80s already that's where they
started putting gates behind these spray cans.
Steven Payne: 01:27:30.738 So you couldn't get them.
BG 183: 01:27:31.395 So you couldn't get them. So what you had to do is
sometimes we had to travel. All the way to Philadelphia to Boston up
Connecticut, New Jersey because those places still have the can open in a shelf.
It's like you just grab it, take it, sometimes one of us didn't get back because
they got caught. So it was a hard time during that time. So for us if we didn't
know you as a writer and you came in, "Hey, hey, hey I'm painting over here." I
01:28:00say, "Yeah you painting and how many cans you got?" got like 20 cans right so
leave the cast and wake up. Be like, "Huh? What are you talking about?" You know
and they know my people they carry knife and they had like machete. We didn't
care. We had ice picks. We didn't play. We don't need it to use it, we just pull
it out . You know what I'm saying, but remember we went to Utica one time,
01:28:30that's in Brooklyn. We went to Utica tunnels, and we paint things and then these
two riders come up to us and say, "Y'all, we're going to rob you," we're like,
"Huh? You're going to rob who?" "We're going to rob all you." And if you know my
boy said, "Y'all, they got a gun." And we didn't have a gun. But they said to
us, "Look we let you rock, let you put your name, but leave all your paint
01:29:00behind." We were like,"Shit, what can we do?"
BG 183: 01:29:09.653 So we painted we tried to use, how much can we use? And we
took some cans, we put some full cans and put them to the side, we don't have to
give them everything, but give them something. At least they'd be happy. So we
gave them like at least 10 to 12 cans and we give them like really empty cans
and maybe two full cans. And that time they came out and were like, "We knew
01:29:30cans carrying on," they came out with a color called bonfire that was like a new
can line of colors, bonfire and Spanish fly. I could hear them saying, "Y'all,
look at this color bonfire we never had bonfire before, but then we left, we was
upset, we got robbed, we never get robbed. We got robbed but at that time, again
they had a gun, we didn't and they was going to show us love, they're not going
01:30:00to cross out our work and the work actually ran and we did good.
Steven Payne: 01:30:12.398 Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kurt Boone: 01:30:13.412 So it was team strength at that time.
BG 183: 01:30:16.485 Okay, so Tough Ass Team?
Steven Payne: 01:30:18.764 Tough Ass Team, yeah.
BG 183: 01:30:19.577 Tough Ass Teenagers, The Art Team, anything that stands for TAT.
Kurt Boone: 01:30:26.865 And in the S you add it to the yard to become Todd's
01:30:30crew maybe explain a little bit about how that came about because you had CRMU.
BG 183: 01:30:40.952 Right so the crew because bio came up with the idea, crew,
because of you know he didn't want to write "crew" as C-R-E-W. So that was like
slash so we can, you know we do TAT crew. We had that in the early 80s crew,
always been there.
Kurt Boone: 01:30:58.787 Oh, okay.
BG 183: 01:30:59.289 And then so now we couldn't paint again we couldn't paint
01:31:00no more in the subways . It was hard . Everything was kind of locked in and plus
we were getting older . Everybody's kind of like working like that. But we still
would meet up and paint walls. So we were paying walls, we were painting at the
Hall of Fame, the graffiti Hall of Fame, that's strictly kings and better . You
had to be really good to paint there and again you wasn't guaranteed that your
01:31:30work would survive that long. Somebody else might come and go over it and then
you had to at least take a photo and accept that you went and got over. They
didn't cross you out, a lot of it, they just did something brand new. It was
okay. And so we did that and then--
Kurt Boone: 01:31:48.338 What was the first wall at the graffiti Hall of Fame
like 80 something 90s?
BG 183: 01:31:52.271 It was in, I would say late 80s.
Steven Payne: 01:31:56.817 Late 80s.
BG 183: 01:31:57.483 Like '88,' 89 yes that's pretty early then we painted a lot
01:32:00more in the 90s, we painted there in the early 90s but we painted the outside.
Kurt Boone: 01:32:12.979 The big one.
BG 183: 01:32:13.682 The big one, the outside because nobody wanted to paint the
outside wall because there was a chance that it got crossed out the same day or
it didn't last. So then this guy, a writer called Easel. Easel took over the
Hall of Fame before James Topp, before [inaudible] TDS.
Kurt Boone: 01:32:39.498 [inaudible] TDS, yeah.
BG 183: 01:32:40.252 You had Easel that was running the Hall of Fame because he
went to the school, he wanted to paint. So he asked us, "Look, you guys want to
paint?" We said, "Yeah, but we don't want to paint the inside. We don't want to
be with other writers on the inside, just give us the outside wall because
nobody really wanted to paint the outside wall." Everybody, "No, no, we paint
01:33:00the inside." So we took the outside wall and we did a nice production. Me and
[Bobby Nicel?] did a nice production and it lasted a long, long time. The whole
body came. People took tag on it, but it was cool because they took tag and they
were famous writers. So we kept it, we never buffed it. And then we went back
two or three years later, we did a new one. And I remember the one that I-- my
01:33:30side that I painted on, what I did is I replicated the Hall of Fame from the
outside. And somebody took a photo, so I did that same--
Steven Payne: 01:33:47.047 I think I've seen that picture for [inaudible], yeah.
BG 183: 01:33:47.645 --dyed one. I did that. And then when I did the-- when I
was drawing the actual wall that we painting on the actual wall, I did the same
thing that we did on the wall but I forgot that I had to paint it again. So I
01:34:00had to paint this smaller because this is the one image but I'm painting and I
have to draw the same image again so I had to redraw the same image again and
they got smaller. [inaudible] staying like that, and I'm going smaller than
that. But I did the whole thing and everybody loved it because I did the
projects and people used to come by. I went back a year or two years later and
they would say, "Yo I live in that building right there." They will point to the
01:34:30mural and we love this mural. That's one of the best mural done, and then at the
same time, [inaudible] did a nice cool area, [inaudible] did a nice cool area.
So it was good. So it lasted a long, long time. Nobody was crossing out and then
we went back and we trying to do a whole brand new wall and they told us-- the
people in the community said, "No, don't take down the one I painted. Leave it."
We like, "No, no. We have to." No, no. Leave it. And again, now we dealing with
01:35:00the community. So they the one who's really in charge. When we live there, the
community is the one going to be in that neighborhood. So we like, "Okay, we're
going to leave it. We're not going to cross it out." And we left it. So every
time we painted from the ending of that mural to the end, I had to rip replicate
the same mural on the wall again.
Kurt Boone: 01:35:31.635 You're right. Yeah. Yeah.
BG 183: 01:35:32.738 So at the same time, it started improving my skills of
painting. So we're getting a lot of work. We started doing work for Coca-Cola.
That was our first big contract.
Steven Payne: 01:35:44.439 Wow.
BG 183: 01:35:46.318 A lot of company wanted to know why a big company like
Coca-Cola is hiring three graffiti artists, Latino from the Bronx. So we started
getting a lot much work. And then we got a contract with Coca-Cola, we got a
01:36:00contract with McDonald's, and then now we painting advertising.
Steven Payne: 01:36:08.870 Wow
BG 183: 01:36:09.030 these walls so, but not too many like these landlords
wanted to accept our work to be painted on their property. So it was kind of
hard. So we started a lot of graffiti all that painted murals didn't last it in
the '90s. They all were getting crossed out by all the writers, people were
01:36:30doing drop over them, artists were trying to paint artwork, regular artwork,
they were getting crossed out, and we didn't want it to be that artist that we
did work that got crossed out. So we had to put pressure on a lot of writers. We
did. So we went and did house visit. We'd make sure that you know who we are.
01:37:00Don't cross us out because it's not going to look right. And a lot of these
walls was graffiti art that was doing street bombing, but what we was telling
them like, "Yo, we're not physically going over you. Don't take offense because
this is not what we're trying to do. This is more business." You know what I'm
saying? And the landlord's giving us permission to paint over it. It's not
personal, you know what I'm saying? And we're going to buff the whole world.
01:37:30We're not going to leave a little piece of your name sticking out that looks
like we went against you. We're going to cross everything. We're going to go
over everything. And then we were getting so much work that we said to
ourselves, "Maybe it's good for us to maybe start hiring all the graffiti art
from this part of The Bronx, let's hire this artist from this part of The Bronx.
01:38:00Let's hire this artist from Manhattan."
BG 183: 01:38:05.547 At the same time, we ain't trying to step [inaudible] foot
so they don't feel that we're going against them. So we started doing that.
Like, "Look, we got two walls for you. Oh, beautiful. To be paying $1,500 for
you to do a wall." Beautiful. They went and got the wall and then we had a total
maybe like nine artists in New York City are doing the work for us. So we was
01:38:30only subcontracting the work and pay and then we would take some for ourself
[inaudible] that we already had with our wall. And everybody was like, "[Jazz
Crew, Jazz Crew?]." Now they're showing us love and we're showing love right
back and that's how we started doing. And after you couldn't-- then when the
academy got messed up in 2000 and [inaudible]?
Steven Payne: 01:38:59.809 '8. '7.
BG 183: 01:39:00.417 Like '15. When nobody was making money, that inflation got
hit hard. Was it all '07, or?
Steven Payne: 01:39:10.676 That's when it first started, but it took a few years
BG 183: 01:39:13.527 Yeah, yeah, I think it--
Steven Payne: 01:39:13.746 --to come into effect
BG 183: 01:39:15.576 Yeah, you could be right. It could be '07, '09. So yeah,
'07, '09. Yeah. It was so bad that we don't know how we survived. I think
because we was in a location that got offices that's based in at the point. So
01:39:30the point with there was really good with us.
Steven Payne: 01:39:40.452 And they just celebrated they're 25th anniversary,
right? Yeah, yeah.
BG 183: 01:39:42.727 Right. Right. So we've been there-- actually, we've been
there a little longer. So I think they're around almost like 27 years. About27
years. We've been around there like 26 years in the point. So they gave us a
break like, "Don't worry, we know the inflation it's not good. We love you guys
01:40:00to stay." Because not only that we there, we also it's good for us to be there
because we also do art, and when they first started at the Point, nobody was
going to the Point when they first opened up because, again, it's in Hunts
Point. It's a ghetto place. It's more industrial, and [Pam?] was like, "I'm not
01:40:30sending my kids over there." I [better dump?] to hang out in a corner grocery
store, you know what I'm saying? That's kind of even worse, but I rather not
send them to the Point. So the Point was sent out a lot of like information that
we got after school program. We got the theater. We got this. We got that, and
nobody would show up. So we spoke to-- the Point came up to us, saying, "So you
guys have any idea to bring people in?" So we say, "Yeah, we know like
01:41:00Bambaataa. We know Crazy Legs, and maybe these guys could come. Maybe."
BG 183: 01:41:11.383 So Bambaataa came through, open up a thing, and that got
too crazy. They had like 400 people going in, and then when they used to leave
to Point, it was like a riot. So they had to shut Bambaataa down with that. But
again that started the people coming in. Then Crazy Legs came in. We spoke to
Crazy Legs. "Yo, Crazy Legs, can you know?" He says, "Yes. It's probably a good
01:41:30idea." So he started teaching break dancing class at the Point. So he started
doing that, and then the Point came up to us, said, "Look, we have a small
budget. Maybe you guys could do graffiti class." So we're not teachers. I'm not
a teacher. I can't see myself as a teacher. They're like, "Oh, you could teach.
" So they try to bring like elementary school kids, and they were too young. One
01:42:00kid ate an eraser, right? [laughter] And I see a guy going like this, "Yo. Yo,
take that." And it was then they said, "Okay, maybe we bring in high school
kids." And that worked out. So we did almost a year program with them.
Steven Payne: 01:42:20.025 Wow.
BG 183: 01:42:20.710 Two or three of them became famous after they graduated,
and hired us to do work. One guy was in charge of production company for music
01:42:30videos, so he called us a do a video with Beyoncé.
Kurt Boone: 01:42:38.824 Wow.
Steven Payne: 01:42:39.345 Unbelievable. Wow.
BG 183: 01:42:39.328 And [J. Cole called?] the party.
Kurt Boone: 01:42:43.162 Wow.
BG 183: 01:42:43.254 So we came out in the video, and he the one who got us in
and got us paid to do the video. And the funny story is they kept telling us,
"Guys, when you see Beyoncé, don't give an eye-to-eye contact. She don't like
that." [laughter] This is the people like, "Okay." "Don't ask her for her
01:43:00autograph." And then later on, they told us the same story again and the third
time. So now I'm painting on the wall. I'm doing this, doing the background.
We're doing it at the party. And Beyoncé came. And I stood stuck. [laughter]
She said, "Oh, I love it. It looks nice." [laughter] She falls for like, I don't
01:43:30know, two or three minutes? And someone said, "Freeze," and I just froze there.
I never saw Beyoncé's face. Never looked at her. The only one I spoke to her
was Nicer. And [Nicer was like?] and me and Bio, the only one stuck.
Steven Payne: 01:43:51.676 Froze.
BG 183: 01:43:52.322 Frozen.
Steven Payne: 01:43:56.057 Wow.
BG 183: 01:43:56.928 Because they kept telling us, "Don't look at her. Don't
look at her." [laughter] And I thought, I believed it. [laughter]
Steven Payne: 01:44:03.405 Wow.
BG 183: 01:44:03.940 And so life been really good. You know what I'm saying? Me
by nights have been together since high school.
Steven Payne: 01:44:11.202 Yeah.
Kurt Boone: 01:44:11.673 So you met Nicer in high school, then?
BG 183: 01:44:13.110 Right. Then later on, I met Nicer in high school. He was
the youngest one in the crew. And he used to just tag along.
Steven Payne: 01:44:21.362 Yeah.
Kurt Boone: 01:44:21.703 Okay.
BG 183: 01:44:21.987 I'll be like, "Oh, I'm going bombing," he said, "Can I go
with you all?" We'd be like, "Okay, come."
Steven Payne: 01:44:25.924 Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
BG 183: 01:44:26.304 That was cool. Yeah. I invited so many people to write with
01:44:30me. Even when I first started and I'd be like, "Okay." We used to do a lot of
street bombing. I saw a lot of pretty sweet tags. A lot of BS 119, a lot of
Blade tags. When you bombing, you start seeing all these famous people bombing.
And me and a couple friend of mine that wanted to do graffiti-- that did
graffiti with me, but when I took them to the tunnel, I said, "Come on, you
ready to go in the tunnel?" Where? I said, "In there." They said, "It's kind of
01:45:00dark in there, isn't it?" I said, "Yeah, it's dark." "What about the rats?"
"Yeah. sometime they go around but don't worry about it." "There's other people
in there?" I said, "Yeah, there'll be some time other people but don't worry
about it. Let's go."
Kurt Boone: 01:45:16.745 Let's go.
BG 183: 01:45:17.665 "Nah, man. I don't feel like writing. I'd rather street
bomb than go in the tunnel with you." "Ah, you for real?" So not a lot of people
liked that I wrote with-- you really had to go and have-- not be scared? Even
01:45:30when you did the layup, you had to walk the wooden platform.
Steven Payne: 01:45:37.147 Sure, and some of the times the wood would be [inaudible].
BG 183: 01:45:39.415 And you could hear it. And like, "Oh shit," and you up in a
third floor, second floor, you might fall.
Steven Payne: 01:45:47.200 Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
BG 183: 01:45:48.631 So not everybody would like to go also on the platform to
do layup. They'd rather get close. [inaudible] right here or to jump into the
track. They'll be scared and be like, "I'm about to third rail." I said,
"Don't worry about it, though." You don't touch it and you're good. "No, no, I
01:46:00buy it breaks." So there was always an excuse for-- not everybody that I wrote
with would go with me fully. And then after that, we started painting these
walls and the streets. And you had to be extra careful what you painted, because
we painted a wall-- started painting memorial walls. People that passed away.
01:46:30And these memorial walls was to honor or to represent that friends or family
that passed away and it's to remorse the person that just died. I remember
painting these walls-- painting these walls. Memorial walls. And after I painted
about 12 memorial waIls, it started messing with my head. Yo, this is deep.
01:47:00These people are my own people. They just dying. Babies that passed away from an
accident. We painted this lady, she hit her head on the escalator and she died.
Old people died of natural causes and then you had-- some of them were murdered.
Kurt Boone: 01:47:29.521 Street violence. Yeah.
BG 183: 01:47:30.512 Street violence. And you had one guy that he was messing
around with his girlfriend-- he had a new girlfriend, but the old boyfriend came
back and killed him. It was kind of not-- this is in the 90s. People would just
gunshot everywhere, the drugs. This is before Giuliani. You know what I'm
saying? It was so bad in the street. And everybody wanted a memorial wall.
01:48:00Everybody. And this block saying-- they used to told us, "Oh, you see that
memorial wall you did? It looks nice we want ours to look better for my boy. You
know what I'm saying? For my boy that passed away. Then we were going to
Manhattan doing a memorial. We was doing in Brooklyn, we went to Jersey. We was
going everywhere painting, but that always was the same thing. It was death. I'm
01:48:30a graffiti artist. I paint graffiti, now I'm painting faces for these people
that died. I saying to myself, "I can't handle this no more." I'm hearing the
news. I'm doing memorial walls, people just dying left to right. And I told
[Bian?] nicely, "Yo, I can't take this no more. I can't draw this." I'm painting
the face and they come up to me behind me and they're talking to me. And I look,
they're not talking to me. They're talking to the mural that I'm painting on the wall.
Kurt Boone: 01:49:06.205 You guys became real famous for that.
BG 183: 01:49:08.266 Right. So and then the media was not good for us either.
The media was saying, "These guys are painting memorial walls for drug dealers,
for gangsters, for people--" And then the city went and started buffing all
these walls. In the '90s, they went--I think late '90s, they started taking down
01:49:30all these walls that we painted. "This is not good." I know the person that
came. It was a lady that came through and I kept looking at her. I said, "You're
a cop, right?" She, "No, I'm not a cop. I just want to know about these walls.
The way she was talking to me and then after she left, all these walls were
taken down. And a lot of these walls were taken down through having programs
01:50:00with kids. And then they would have kids come over with buckets of paint and,
"Oh, we're cleaning up our neighborhood." And they will buff these walls, the
memorial walls. And then they have police present in case something jump up, but
that's how it was. It was taken down-- we had like at least 50 memorial walls,
and I think only a few survived.
Steven Payne: 01:50:30.725 That's insane. Wow!
Kurt Boone: 01:50:32.904 So can you talk a little bit about TATS CRU becoming a
small business in the midst of all this difficulty, right? Because you guys are
working with corporations, and that takes some savvy to kind of do that. You got
to go through agencies and stuff, there's contracts, that kind of thing. So how
does the [inaudible] crew become this business with their art?
BG 183: 01:50:58.332 Before we transition into all this, remember, we was
01:51:00hardcore graffiti artists, now we going into the business. So I remember we got
our first contract-- we haven't established ourselves as a business. We working
with each other. Me, Nice and Bob working with each other. We got a contract and
now we go to a hardware store. And in the hardware store we like, "Hey, what's
up?" And the guy's name was Marty. "Marty, what's up, man? We're going to buy
01:51:30some paint." And he became good friends with us. And he would give us the key
with all the spray paint inside. So we will open up and we see all these spray
can. And us three is looking at each other like, "We could steal some of this
paint." And then we said, "No, we're going to start a business. We shouldn't be
stealing. We have a budget for money to buying paint, let's buy paint." And
that's how we did. We went in there and forgot. But again, all that, I could
01:52:00take at least 10 to 12 cans [inaudible] but then in end of day, and the guy was
even looking. There's no camera during that time. So we like, "No, let's keep it
legit to the sense that we are businessman now, now we-- so it was kind of hard.
Even when we went to go look for walls to do these to do this stuff, we would go
01:52:30and talk to the landlord and say, "Look, we going to do a graffiti mural to--
"No, I don't want it." And we'd go back and said, "We're going to do a mural, a
graffiti mural here." "I don't want it."
BG 183: 01:52:51.585 And then I said, "Damn, what's going on? Maybe I have to
stop saying graffiti and say art." Are we going to do a mural or a art mural
01:53:00here?" "Oh, okay." "Well, yeah, a little art mural." And then that's how they
kind of opened up, so. And because again, the media was also saying graffiti is
not good in the '90s. You be careful. Because--
Steven Payne: 01:53:16.670 And then once you gave the name graffiti too, to
BG 183: 01:53:18.811 Right. In the beginning with and same thing with the word
hip hop. We're really writers. But we know that story. But so it was kind of
hard for us. So we started finding ways and how to really talk, be like, "Okay,
01:53:30look, we're going to go into your-- we want to paint your wall, your wall is
already vandalized." And, "I don't want it." No, just hear me out. Maybe I could
paint the wall for you for free. I'll do a mural because it's a grocery store.
You could do something with Coca-Cola. And I could give you some money." Some
01:54:00money. Oh, you're going to give me some money? I said, "Yeah, I'm having a
budget 300. We paint the wall and I just need an okay." "Oh, yeah, yeah. Okay.
Okay. Okay. Yeah, paint my wall."
Kurt Boone: 01:54:14.036 Pain my wall.
Steven Payne: 01:54:14.401 Paint any wall.
BG 183: 01:54:15.049 "You're going to pay now?" "No, no, no, when I come back, I
got to let my client know that we're going to paint this wall and then it's
okay." And I would come back a week later, "Look, here's the 300." And then from
there, at least the wall has to stay up at least a little bit. At least, after
01:54:30two months, three months. So they started working. And then we had one wall that
got buffed by the owner a month later, and I said, "Oh, I thought you were going
to leave it up." "No, it's [a month?]. I only keep it up [a month?]." Then we
made a contract that he signed here, I'll give you this money just say that the
wall going to stay up for two or three months. And then we started doing that.
And then so we started mostly the street movement that people now could paint
01:55:00the street and the wall would last. But back then, no mural would last. We
started that movement that you allow to go over a wall that has, again, graffiti
on it, you could go over it without the actual graffiti aught come back to cross
you out. Do that, it's a no-no. You don't do that. So that's how we started
giving out these walls to other writers, that's how it's spreading out the news
01:55:30that this is the way it should be, and everybody should be happy with it. It's
not like we're going against yo physically. It's nothing personal. It's all business.
BG 183: 01:55:45.482 And so that's how we started doing these walls and getting
permission. It was hard for us. We were not making no money. We were broke in
the early '90s. Really broke. There was like six months that we didn't even get
01:56:00a job. My wife was telling me, "You better work at McDonald's. Go to McDonald's.
Go to where. I don't care. Get a a job. [he?] like, "Yeah, yeah, go get a job."
[laughter] I was like, "[inaudible]" because I left my job already. You know
what I'm saying? I left my job in the '90s. And how I left that job was because
I was a engineer for a company called Acme Steel Door in Brooklyn. And my
supervisor was like-- because I used to paint walls. I'd go to my job and then
01:56:30meet up with the guys about 8 o'clock at night and paint until we finish.
Sometimes we finish at 3:00, sometimes we finish at 5:00 in the morning. At 6:00
in the morning I would go home, jump in the shower, drink a lot of coffee, and
go to work. And then get to work and I'll be sleeping at my desk. And my
supervisor came up to me. She said, "You have a choice. You could leave here or
leave the other job. You can't be sleeping here." And that rang a bell like,
01:57:00"Oh, okay. That's a choice I wasn't thinking about." I'm thinking about working,
making money. And then this will be also making money. So I'm making money both
ways. I'm okay. But it wasn't like that.
BG 183: 01:57:19.861 So when we started landing all these jobs, I said, "Okay,
it's time to leave." So I saved up enough money. I said, "I'm going to leave my
job and never look back." So I left it and never looked back. When that money
01:57:30ran out, there was no more money. We was like, "What the fuck are we going to
do? There's no more money in the street and it's kind of hard." And then we
landed another company called Crooked Eye. They were a bill distributor. They
had a juice called Crooked Eye, almost like a drink, alcohol. So we started
doing that. And then we started doing other small jobs and doing mom-and-pop
stores. We did Shivas Regal. And during that time, we did ABC Carpet at Home. So
01:58:00how we started the company TATS, I mean adding the S to the TAT screw, we met
Fat Joe the time that we were also doing a music video for KRS-One called Mad
Lion. Mad Lion was a singer. He was doing a song. And we was actually painting
01:58:30in a place called The Bronx Hall of Fame. It was located on a 169th Street and
3rd Avenue behind the school. And so KRS knew about the school. And it was a
perfect place because it was kind of like a backyard to a big wall away from the
school. And we'd been painting there for a year or two.
BG 183: 01:59:04.651 So we told KRS-One that would be a good place to do the
video for Mad Lion, and now we're painting. The Mad Lion video we did a big
lion. And who came along? Fat Joe. Fat Joe came, and he was like, "Yo, what's
up, guys? I love you guys. TATS Crew, I love you. I love you, Guys. You guys are
my idols. I love you guys." And he also was a graffiti artist.
Steven Payne: 01:59:34.184 Ah, he was a graffiti artist.
BG 183: 01:59:35.809 And he wrote Crack. So next thing you know, him, Brim went
on a mission and became All City. They were going all over the place doing Brim,
Crack, Crack, Brim all over the place. And when Joe was ready to drop his album,
he came up to us. And he said, "Look guys, want to do [snikes?]. And [snikes?]
02:00:00are just you come on with a poster and you go through the neighborhood and you
put it up, like a new movie coming out. Coming soon. So we went and we did a lot
of-- I got Flow Joe posters all over. So we made up--
Kurt Boone: 02:00:24.868 We paste it.
BG 183: 02:00:26.326 We pasted. We met up with Fat Joe by 11 o'clock at night.
02:00:30Didn't go out until like 1 o'clock. So we hit all the major fashion places like
stores. We would go to Fordham road. We went to 3rd Avenue, then we hit Southern
Boulevard, and then we go to 125th street. From 125th Street, we go to the Times
Square, the Village. And then from the Village we go up to Queens, to the
Queen's Mall, Northern Boulevard, Queens Boulevard. Then from there, we go to
02:01:00Brooklyn. We go to the Bushwick section. We go to Coney Island, and we would
snipe up every day for like a whole month. One time, Joe was like, "Yo, it's
like 6:00 in the morning," and Joe said, "Yo, we got to go-- we got to go over
here and we like, "Yo." Me and Bio was like-- was looking at each other like,
"Yo, Bio. I'm tired. You know what I'm saying? We got to get the fuck out of
02:01:30here, and Joe got us kidnapped." You know what I'm saying? So me and Bio say,
"Yo, Joe man, can you pull over real quick? We gotta take a leak." So when he
pulled over, me and Bio started running. And Joe knew already that we was out.
We wasn't coming back, so we see the van taken out. We were like, "We got to get
the fuck out of here. We've been here with you for hours and hours." But we
loved it, and that campaign was so successful when Big Pun came along. He was
02:02:00doing the same thing for Big Pun. We destroyed Big pun.
BG 183: 02:02:11.779 I think Joe got a different team and Pun with everywhere.
People want to know-- the way he was doing it was like street bombing as a
graffiti artist. So when you're a graffiti artist, you bomb anywhere. We do
inside of the highway. We was doing everywhere. And then at the same time,
02:02:30[inaudible] was doing work with Coca-Cola. We're doing work for everybody and so
we tagging ourselves. We putting up TATS. You know what I'm saying? What
happened is, instead of doing TAT and TS separate, so we took the last T, and
just added an S. We've been doing that from the beginning, you know what I'm
saying? When [inaudible] had his crew, TMB, we bought TAT and B for that mean
02:03:00TAT, T and B. TOA, TCA. We had a whole bunch with the TAT, but we added in your
first letter of your cool sided with a T, and we just connected it like that. So
that's how the TS started from the TATS. We also part of task crew [inaudible].
And so we just kept going and kept doing that. We painted when Pun passed away.
02:03:30We had that particular wall that we painted. And me, Bio, [inaudible] and me, we
had a nice wall that we painted. Bio did a [inaudible] did a character with a
bulletproof vest with a Puerto Rican bandana and then he's holding up two guns
and he shooting and then there's a BG 183.
BG 183: 02:04:03.319 And I remember when Pun was coming out with his album, he
his promotional photograph was him in front of that particular piece that he's
doing the same thing, the same movement. And that was the photo that he was
promoting himself to the world. So when he died, we say, "Oh, let's do that
wall," and that's how that area of the Pun at Roger's place became the Big Pun
02:04:30wall. We also painted and Casita Maria, again, I was born and raised across you
from Casino Maria. Casita Maria reached out to us to paint three hermanas and
the three hermanas is actually Joe Conzo's grandmother. That we also painted
another wall for his grandmother on Prospect. That got you know got taken down,
02:05:00but the actual print is inside the facility. So we painted a lot of stuff. I
love The Bronx mural that's located on Simpson. Again, Simpson is where I grew
up at. And that's how we got the wall. So a lot of these walls was because of my
neighborhood. Bio was born and Bio raised up in Bronx River Project and that's
how I got to meet Bambaataa because of Bio, but Bio lived in Bronx River. So we
02:05:30did a lot-- I did a lot of stuff in Bronx River. But it was a great time. It's a
lot of stuff that we did that's still out there that you still could see, but.
BG 183: 02:05:51.989 And after that, we were just taking the company in a way
that not only that we do murals, we also do vinyl, we do contract for all the
02:06:00stuff that we do, we do lectures. And you got to show going on right now too,
right? Right. I did a show at Wall Works too, the place is called Crete Hub. And
I asked Crash to do-- I wanted to do a show there in 2020, thinking that I could
do a show in the next couple of months. He said, "Yeah, let me look at my
02:06:30calendar." And he said, "Okay, 2022 of February." I said, "Wow, that's like two
years from now." I said, "All right. Let's get it. Let's get it, so." But it did
give me more time to produce some really great paintings. I actually dedicated a
painting there for Big Pun.
Steven Payne: 02:06:51.622 Yeah. I saw that.
BG 183: 02:06:52.370 But this is the month that he passed away. He passed away
February 7th. So it was perfect to have that particular piece in there for
02:07:00people to see and enjoy. I also did a self-portrait of myself, drawing. And I
also do a hydrant. That's my signature that I've been doing it for the last fir
years. I also found these two hydrant pieces that was laying on the floor and
then I was like-- and it kept telling me, "Why you don't put it in your show?"
And I kept saying to myself, "I don't know what to do with it. I don't know how
can I create something with this?" So, in the end, after like a week and a half
02:07:30before the show, I came up with the idea and that's what I came up. I think it
was a really great idea of how I did it. And this is a show that, again, I just
wanted to show people, my fans, my family, that I really love art, and this is
something that I was born, God gave me a gift that I'm still using it. And doing
02:08:00a lot of positive things with it.
BG 183: 02:08:04.000 And in the end, I'm proud of the show because know, again,
we got the COVID. And it was amazing that I had a leaf 250 to 300 people showing
up in that show like you know. People calling me like," Y'all, I can't find
parking." And it was like, for me it was like incredible that people still like
02:08:30the stuff that I do, I have a lot of support and a lot of people that still love
what I do. So I actually have two more upcoming shows and I think it's like more
like a pop-up show I'm doing and I think a lot of people are also reaching out
to me, they want work to be done on canvases and I think because in the
beginning we were mostly street artists that was doing street art advertising or
street art mural but a lot of people don't know that I also paint canvas and now
02:09:00after this one show people are reaching out to me and if you guys had any more questions--
Kurt Boone: 02:09:13.068 Oh, just the last couple of questions would be to talk
a little bit about the Muriel kings and how do you feel about this whole Mural
movement around the world and you being a patriarch because you travel with the
world and you guys are maybe the inspiration to this whole Muriel movement now
02:09:30because way more than tagging, it's a whole global movement called Mural. So how
do you feel about the name Mural king said your courier way back and then this
whole global movement called Murals being made by artists all over the world?
BG 183: 02:09:51.533 Okay so when I started doing the graph you had like all
this like Lee, Lee was doing incredible mural back down in the 80s. He did one
02:10:00that was in the train station that was like my Internet . Back then the way you
saw murals is you had to travel by train. So we had one that was from, I think
from 34th street to 14th street there's an abandoned four or five train station.
02:10:30I think it's on 27th street that's abandoned, so when the train is going slow
you can see the bandit and he had this mural that he painted this Egyptian guy
on a camel. It was a silhouette, so he did like yellow and orange sky and he did
like some beige into browns for the sign and on the tip of the-- on a mountain
02:11:00of the sand he did like a camel with an Egyptian like silhouette and then he
drew this like the shadow of the camel to silhouette and it was so amazing like
wow, I didn't know you could do that with spray paint like you could do art like
you know like people was doing art like you had like the hand of doom was Seen
and then Lee did another one that I think it was the 2001 mural day, there was a
02:11:30lion and that was so crazy and then Lee did another painting that I saw on the
train and then you had Sin doing top to bottom with colors .
BG 183: 02:11:47.255 So this inspired me to like wow it's more than a piece on
the train, it's like a it's a whole production that you could do. So that
brought me to the thing and then in the early 90s we was traveling a little bit
02:12:00around the world, we traveled to France and we met a crew called Mac crew and
they C crew and they were one of the best crew out there. They were doing top to
bottom crew and so we needed to change our name from TAT, so I came up with the
idea let's do-- I'm going to call myself the Mural King because at that time we
were painting so much mural. We like, "Yo, we call ourselves the Mural King," so
02:12:30then we took it and we did it for our company name. "Oh, let's do The Mural King
as the company, and when we started traveling, these people was doing side of
buildings incredibly. Doing style, doing character, doing some stuff that it was
amazing, and I don't know, it could have been from the subway art book that
inspired everybody to do this graffiti. Could have been, again, the only way you
02:13:00saw graffiti was through graffiti magazines. You had a lot of graffiti magazine
that was out there, and because of these graffiti magazine-- and again, there
was getting done here. There was one or two magazine in New York City, but a lot
of the magazine was coming from overseas, so they was also producing, so they
02:13:30took something that somebody started back here, let's say TAKI 183, and then you
had the Phase 2, you had the COCO 144, the Snakes, and I was writing, but it
just took off. You know what I'm saying?
BG 183: 02:13:50.770 People used to interview me and say, "What do you want
graffiti to be at?" and I said, "I want graffiti to be on a plane, on a side of
a boat, but now it's there already. People painted plane, helicopters. It's in
02:14:00movie backdrop. You see a lot of music videos, and it's all over. You know what
I'm saying? It's a nonstop-- We actually did total of 29 music videos that we
have out there that we did from the early '80s, so when people ask us, "How long
you been doing business?" we've been doing business since when we first started.
02:14:30It's not like we started in the '90s. Yeah, we officially went and got a
copyright. Yeah, TATS Cru is now a company, but we've been doing this from
early, early '80s when we first started, and today Bio is-- He's doing his
heart. He's all over with the heart. Nicer's getting busy doing his characters
and doing paintings, it's incredible, and then myself, I'm going to continue
02:15:00doing what I'm doing, and then I think when us three get together it's amazing
work. You know what I'm saying?
Steven Payne: 02:15:12.026 Absolutely, yeah.
BG 183: 02:15:12.713 Even the new school writers, they show us so much love, and
looking at their work, they're like, "Wow, your guys are way better than other."
"No, no, no, your guys are the gods," and then I said, "Thank you, thank you,
thank you, thank you."
Kurt Boone: 02:15:23.624 Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's right. That's right.
Steven Payne: 02:15:26.889 Yeah, for sure.
BG 183: 02:15:28.872 I see myself like I'm not doing the type of work you're
02:15:30doing, but they're looking at me like, "You so good at it," because not only
that we do-- a lot of writers, they only-- It's only a few writer that
specialize in everything. There's a couple, right, that "I just do characters,"
and they can't do letters, and there's a lot of people that do letters, but they
can't do characters, and a lot of people who do characters and letters, but they
don't have a hand style, so a lot of people-- It's real different now, real
02:16:00different. It's a different movement, and I feel like whatever you have,
whatever you have to give it's the best. It's not like you have to stop. You
just continue doing what you're doing. I know we started traveling around the
world, and we went to Mexico. And in Mexico, there's different art in Mexico
where they-- again, the paint over there is three times as much over there
02:16:30because you take domestic money, and our money is about nine times, eight times.
So over there, for them to get colors, this is like late 90s.
BG 183: 02:16:49.193 So they take one color like a light yellow, and they take
an orange, and they put two different types of cap on the spray can, and they
02:17:00put a straw between these two cans. So if this can is kind of empty, they spray
this side, and they put a color that runs from one can to the next can to mix
Steven Payne: 02:17:15.351 Wow.
Kurt Boone: 02:17:15.586 In Mexico?
BG 183: 02:17:16.317 In Mexico. But oh, wow, this is--
Steven Payne: 02:17:17.105 That's crazy.
BG 183: 02:17:18.282 You're over there and you seen this happening, like, "Wow,
this is incredible." I would never guess to add two colors together. So they
figured out-- so everywhere you go, it's always something new. And again, in
02:17:30Mexico, we noticed that there was a lot of-- the percentage of the women-- there
was a lot of women graffiti artists. We were like, "Wow, this is incredible." In
New York, you see them, but it's not so many. But in Mexico, about 40% of the
women was graffiti artist, and 60% were men. And like, "Oh, wow, this is really
awesome." So to this day, what I've been doing is just been joined almost every
02:18:00day. I took a trip to Brazil, and I remember there was-- 2015 or '13, I went to
Brazil. And during that time, I'm painting murals for everybody from McDonald's
to movies that's coming up brand new. I'm doing T-Mobile, doing AT&T. We're
02:18:30doing stuff for everybody, but it was like I'm doing something for someone. It
was not I was doing something for myself. So it became a job. It became kind of
boring to me like, "Okay, I'm doing this. I'm painting this." So used this color
red, used this color blue. So it was like something that we had to do for us to
get paid. It was all right, but it was nothing I felt was for me.
BG 183: 02:19:01.684 So when I took a trip to Brazil, it changed my life. I'm
seeing these artists. They're painting out of raw material. They're using
brushes. They're taking a wall-- here in New York, we paint the whole wall one
color. There, they just paint whatever image they want to throw on the wall. So
if it's a person's face with a body, they're just doing a round circle and the
body, and that's it. The rest is just raw brick wall cement. So when I went
02:19:30there, I painted with close to like 50 artists, and I'm seeing every artist kind
of struggling because, again, pink costs so much money, and they're making
something out of nothing. And they brought me back to how I started. And so when
I left Brazil, I was a new artist. Wow. This opened up my eyes to saying like,
02:20:00"Don't take this for granted because you're good at what you're doing." There's
always something that you always got to get there and same thing like a boxer.
After a while you boxing, you winning, it gets boring. You know what I'm saying?
So you always got to keep that heat, that energy in your body. Keep going. So in
this solo show, this is what I did. I gave it my all. I didn't take nothing for
granted. I said, look, people want to see more, I have to give them more. And
02:20:30that's what I've been doing.
Steven Payne: 02:20:39.155 Absolutely. I got one final question for you which
is, what does The Bronx represent to you?
BG 183: 02:20:45.486 For me The Bronx represent everything, represent life,
represent me as a person because without-- me living in The Bronx, it showed me
different elements of life from being poor, from being broke, from seeing
02:21:00everything that was-- like when people say, "You live in The Bronx? Where? In
the South Bronx?" For me it was life. We had the hydrant, we had sports, we had
street games, we had everything that only in poor neighborhood would have. And
we did. We had the crime rate, you had to protect yourself, you had your friends
02:21:30that was doing so much crime or you had your friend that passed away too early
in the game that you didn't want to hear about that. And you had everything
that-- like Kara once said, The Bronx keep creating it, and that's why we've
been doing for many years. We create something out of nothing and that's what
02:22:00The Bronx represent. You know what I'm saying? If you are born and raised here,
somehow you talented. And somehow and somewhere in your life if you want to be a
dancer, you go knocking your next door neighbor and he's a dancer. You want to
be a DJ, you go upstairs and DJ. You want to do graffiti, the wall right across
the street has graffiti.
BG 183: 02:22:28.755 So everything that you want is here. If you hungry, you go
02:22:30to the nearest grocery store. You want to go shopping, it's right there. You
want to take the subway, the buses, everything is so close. The Bronx has
everything. We got the museums. We have the best team in the world, New York
Yankees. You know what I'm saying? You can't go wrong with that. You know what
I'm saying? I support New York Yankees since the early '77 when they won back
02:23:00then. And the black guys. We had black guys. We have everybody. It's family. We
as a Bronx family, we protect each other. If you have your son and your
daughter, the next door neighbor is looking out for your kids. You know what I'm
saying? People say that you got to be careful but here, I feel it's a safer
place because mothers when they see something going on, they're out there, " Yo,
02:23:30you better be careful with my kids. That's for my kids." You know what I'm
saying? So we have it all. You know what I'm saying? We have everything - You
know what I'm saying? - from the board president, Ruben Diaz. He really went and
he did what he had to do. He had all these people that come down. The Bronx is
where it's at. Hip hop wouldn't start it because of The Bronx. Graffiti wouldn't
be here because it was for The Bronx. So we make it even from breakdancing to
Steven Payne: 02:24:10.270 The Latin Hustle, salsa.
BG 183: 02:24:11.605 Right. Latin Hustle to salsa. Everything is all in The
Bronx. You hear like when I travel the world and I say I'm from The Bronx,
people will stop and ask me like 100 questions. Okay. You got the fashion that's
got in The Bronx. You got everything. You know what I'm saying? How can I say?
02:24:30I'm glad again I'm here. I'm glad that I ran with my task crew, mash up to my
wife, my kids, the whole family, the crash, the days, the lady pinks, the Lee,
Mitch 77, one guy that I used to go and see one of his wall that he had by
Yankee Stadium, on the wall that he had a Mitch 77 that was like my internet,
02:25:00[inaudible] early '80s. All the DJs that was out there, Grandmaster Flash, Melle
Mel, Grandmaster Caz, these guys are still current in the game, Grand Wizard
Theodore. These guys are still making hip hop, making The Bronx what it is today.
Steven Payne: 02:25:29.436 Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for
02:25:30sharing everything that you've shared today and I think we'll end Kurt with--
Kurt Boone: 02:25:39.632 Thank you all. The only thing we-- the last day we ask
every artist is to do a tag for us. This stays in the music library.
BG 183: 02:25:46.410 Oh, great.
Kurt Boone: 02:25:46.980 So I have a marker. I have a marker.
BG 183: 02:25:49.125 It's not a dry marker, right?
Kurt Boone: 02:25:51.018 [inaudible]. Hold on. I 'll show you. It's a dry
marker. Yeah. Yeah. It's a dry marker.
Kurt Boone: 02:25:57.860 It's good. Okay. For a dry marker you hit it down like
02:26:00this and ink should come down. That's how you get blood.
Kurt Boone: 02:26:08.122 Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you.
BG 183: 02:26:18.627 Oh, see. It's already dripping.
Steven Payne: 02:26:20.684 Yeah. There we go. [silence]
Kurt Boone: 02:27:15.468 [inaudible].