I first got involved with writing (known to most as graffiti) not unlike many others growing up in NYC during the 70's and 80's. Through pure fascination and emulation. First seeing it on the insides of the subways as you ride to different destinations with your parents. Then you try to decipher the signatures you've seen. Then, trying your hand at it by imitating the names you saw. Finally, you make up a name of your own. I went through quite a few names before I came to settle upon SNATCH. Two that stand out were Wise and Bond007. But I found out there were like a million other people writing Wise, Wize or some variation (most notable was Weiser AKA PeoSIS). Bond was taken by Bond TMT. I was driven to find a name that was catchy and original, something I could claim as my own. Exactly where Snatch came from I couldn't even tell you now, but I guess it suited my criteria. So Snatch it was... Now coming up in Brooklyn during the 80's was no easy task, especially coming out of The Ville (Brownsville-Never Ran, Never Will). The heart of Brownsville contains no less than 15 separate housing projects, (Tilden, Seth Low, Howard, Langston Hughes, and Brownsville were literally a stones throw from each other). When you think about it that's a lot of poor people stacked on top of each other. Anyway, "graf" was always prevalent and present. Many famous writers came out of the Ville. Writers like Paco, EdII TOP, Jaz(CI), Bust and Broker, HarryO(HO). Crews with names like Masters Of Graffiti and Music Lovin' Crew would stand out to me early on as I traveled to and from Junior High. Later, I'd discover Brownsville has a rich history dating back to the earliest writers. IN was supposedly originally from the Ville. Also, I learned about The Words, a crew started in the mid-70's. When I got into Art and Design (High School) that's when things got really rolling. A&D during the 80's was a stronghold and breeding ground for the city's leading writers of the day. SonOne, Poke, Erni- NewWave, Par and NelOne to name a few. Reas and Sento. Zeno, Rely and Stern NCR. So many. There were chapters of TC5, IBM, TNT, TS5, NTA and OTB based there
I got down with CWK- Craftwork Kings. Gnome and Gemini/Gem7 ( Prez and Vice, respectively) were also students at Art and Design. They had formed CWK in late '82-early '83 partly as a reaction to being turned away from some of the uptown crews I mentioned earlier. They took the name from 80's euro/techno group Kraftwerk, famed for the song "Trans Europe Express". While CWK was initially based from the East Flatbush-Crown Heights-Brownsville area of Brooklyn, its member roster would grow to include writers from all over the city, Long Island and even Jersey. Gnome and Gem would lead the crew to a prominent status among the Brooklyn crews vying for attention on the IRT 2,3,4 and 5 and the IND A and C lines. Both these routes were prized because they provided maximum exposure for any writer to be seen throughout the city. Gnome and Gem formulated a "style package" that was difficult to ignore. Starting with their hand style (their "G's") , they were able to create tags that stood out amongst a crowded field. The "piece styled" throwup (sharper edges as opposed to the rounded,bubble styles that prevailed) was employed. Along with the overlapping letter forms and arrow ended pieces, Gnome and Gem would create an approach to graf that became known as "CWK style" ( it should be noted that many crews had used this technique of each member being unified in their styling of letter forms-FBA being one that enters my mind almost immediately) .Somewhere around 86-87 I was becoming disillusioned with the graf scene. The buff was in full effect, beefs had escalated to the point of attempted murder, and I was being hassled by my parents for my run-ins with the law. To top it off, most of my peers were giving it up to find more lucrative hustles ( "graf was cool and all, but I need to get PAID!") So I put away the ink and paint to focus on school, I would attend the Savannah College of Art and Design to further my studies in Illustration and Cartooning. A natural direction from what I was doing as a writer.
Fast forward-1996, Several things happen coincidentally to draw me back into the scene actively, One, I get down with Bom5, Lethal, ShoTDC RozOne FUN, Some AAB and Nacho to put together Tha Spot, a showcase of all elements of Hip Hop with a leaning towards writing and art. Two, I notice that there seems to be an overwhelming concentration on the Bronx in terms of the living history of graf, so much so, it seems all other boroughs are being ignored for their contributions. Finally, while checking out some walls at the suggestion of a friend, I meet B'ares, Komer and Merd, writers from Brownsville who are still keeping the faith. I'm getting the itch again, and before you know it, I'm back in it full swing although I can't just go out every night (got a responsible job and other responsibilities- oh well) Since I've been back, I put most of my energies into piecing and creating murals. But I still hold to the tradition of being an overall writer. To create unique letterforms that make you stand back and wonder, " what does that say?"
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