T-Kid 170

Imagine you wouldn’t have ran into those writers at the Burnside station back in 1968. who pulled you into the world of graffiti. What would you life look like without graffiti?
I guess it would not be as colourful or as exciting as it is now. I discovered myself through graffiti the essence of who I am is due to small circumstances like the one you mentioned.

You grew up in New York, the hip-hop capital that is known for its endless artistic possibilities. Do you think you would have come this far if you would have grown up elsewhere?
Definitely not. I think I would be doing some boring 9 to 5 job living a semi normal life. I would probably be getting more sleep then I do now but hey God had a plan for me and my life went the way it was suppose to go, Here I am today burning style and getting up.

Tell me more about your affinity with hip-hop.
I grew up with Hip Hop before it was called Hip Hop. It was just something that we did. It was our music our dance our style our way of celebrating. It became a culture a culture straight out the streets of the Bronx. Its my way of life.

In New York, the government seems to have won the battle against graffiti. Tags and pieces on trains are mostly done by European writers. What is your opinion on this development?
I don’t know who gave you this information but rest assure my friend you are definitely wrong. 80 percent of the writers arrested in New York are from Europe. There are still a lot of writers that hit shit this way. New Yorkers just keep it low key. See we live here and have to deal with the vandal squad and they don’t play fair. As for the walls and the rest of the city it’s a war and guess what for every writer they bust there are thousands waiting on line to hit shit.

Can we still speak of the slogan “Graffiti can’t be stopped”?
Graffiti has been here since the beginning of man and civilization and they couldn’t stop it then and no matter how hard they try they can’t stop it now. You may not see it on NYC transit at the moment but trains are being painted, they just buff them before they leave a yard and if they do run witch on occasion they do its short lived and it straight to another yard to get buffed. The city is spending a lot of money on this so it can give the illusion that they have graffiti under control.

How do you feel about the fact that graffiti has become a more acknowledged art form?
I don’t believe Graffiti is truly acknowledged as art most of what you see in galleries is more of an abstract art form painted with spray-paint and dressed up to look like graffiti in a fashion that is accepted by the art world or its some type of conceptual art that entices all those cerebral asshole that love the smell of their own farts. But we all know that this conceptual art form is not really graffiti. Most of these conceptual artist are art students just ask anyone of them. Graffiti is pure expression of self paint a few canvases of your name and bring it to a gallery and let’s see how far you get. Few galleries are maverick enough to show the true style of graffiti art. There are some but very few.

What were your main resources of inspiration back in the day and now?
Back in the days it was a whole different story. There were no videos books or magazines. Everything we did we made up as we went along. We inspired each other in a competitive way always trying to out do each other. Those who try to burn me inspired me to burn them with style. Today! Life’s experiences inspire me to continue with my work as a graffiti writer.

You came up in the golden era of hip-hop. What kind of differences do you distinguish between the time when you first came to the scene and the new generation?
It was a lot more fun back then, But then again I was younger and naive. Today it’s more of a thought out thing. Back in the days we just did it. Today people plan it.

Do you consider yourself a follower or a leader?
I have always been a leader who never cared to be followed. I always did my own thing. I followed no one. This I learned early on when I was involved with street gangs. I followed then and all I got was shot 3 times. So fuck that following shit.

In your opinion, what makes a writer a real king?
Getting up every way you can and keeping a low profile not letting anyone know who you really are.
It’s not about feeding your ego. It’s only about getting up

Are you still in contact with people from back in the day, whom you befriended when you were a graffiti writer?
Not really. I see heads from time to time. I think the only writer I keep in touch with from back in the days is Cope2 and that’s only because he is a true friend to me.

What’s your opinion on DJ Kay Slay, originally a graffiti writer known as Dez?
Yea Dez was crazy back in the days and he still crazy today. I love his art and his music. God Bless him.

You wrote an autobiographical book, The Nasty Terrible T-Kid 170, in which you speak very open about your development as a person and talk about your perceptions of graffiti and hip-hop. What made you decide to write a book?
I seen a lot of books about graffiti but I didn’t see one about a graffiti writer. I felt it was time for me to come up from the underground and show everybody what a NYC graffiti writer was like. Our environment the adversity we endured. What type of people a writer was like. I try to give a face and a soul to a rebel art form that people really didn’t understand. It was nothing like beat street. Were Ramon painted furniture in an abandon building and his friends brought him food to feed his girlfriend and child then die glorious in a duel to the death with Spit. Ha ha ha ha for me it was about surviving the streets of Boynton Avenue, Drugs, crazy girlfriends, nutty ass graffiti writers. You know now that I think about it, Henry Chaulfant told me once. Tkid your life is amazing you should write a book about it. That was 84-85 right after a brawl in a restaurant on Canal and west Broadway. Then a writer named Darco told me the same in 2002 at a summer session jam. Then Cope2 told me in 2004.

How long did it take for you to write the book and to make a selection of the illustrations?
I started in late 2004. I wrote a lot more about my life that was omitted from the book and most of the pictures in the book were from my personal collection. My man Nick T a.k.a Myre put it all together. Every one that read or seen the book, say its better then subway art. Me personally, well I think I could have done it a little different and not put some of the stuff that was put in at the end of the book. And I feel it doesn’t end right. But it`s a dope as book. I think it will become the graffiti bible. Ha ha ha

Marc Ecko recently released a video game, Getting Up, which broaches on graffiti. You are one of the characters in the game. Commercial companies have become aware of the popularity of the art form. Do you see this as a logical development?
Of course I do. Graffiti is the ultimate communication art form. It reaches across culture, colour and age boundaries attracting all that see it why not have these big companies come and use us to get the target consumer they want. To them its about the big buck, to us it`s just another way to get up. Now instead of vandalizing subway trains, all you have to do is turn on your TV and see my Tag. And why not get a little loot in the process. A mans got to eat!

What can we expect from T-Kid in the future?
I don’t know what my destiny is but rest assure that I’m still on this journey.

Geplaatst door bowie op 16 juli 2006