Phase 2, granddaddy of aerosol art, gives some words of warning and wisdom:


'Writing is not about hip hop and breaking. People were writing at least ten years before hip hop, from 1967/8. The subculture was there already. We've always danced, we've always had a whole culture nobody knew about. The baddest writers learnt on the streets. The ones who have stayed true to that deserve respect - not the ones that go off doing stupid art shows and separating themselves from the culture.

'Fellows got respect long before we started doing canvasses. Nobody should tell you where to paint. What happens if there are no more trains or buses left? You stop writing?! It's like sport. Within yourself, you've got to know you're a good player otherwise, even if you are a good player, you'll still fail. You have to be sure within yourself, you have to know what you are about. You must embrace the culture for yourself, not for anybody else.

'Twenty years I've been living and breathing this thing. My cousin was writing Lee 163D back in the late 60s/70s. He let me try my hand at it. And that was it - off I went. Aerolsol art.

'There are certain people who want to destroy everything, to dictate and control and collect money for it. To destroy our youth.  Every fucking day, I'm reminded I'm a 'nigga'. No matter how talented or intelligent or strong you are, there's now ay you can ever wear a three piece suit and be accepted like a white man. Doesn't matter if you go along with every single rule and regulation, play their game. You're a nigga....for life. i realised this at a very early age and decided I might as well not waste time, just get on with being myself, fuck what anyone else thought.

'In '78 we were still djing, holding rap parties in the park. I've been playing records for ages. That's how we are, how we feel. Not because it's cool. It's just us. There is a drastic difference between harcore and a bum. Hardcore is an attitude. Bum is copping out. Hardcore isn't 'I-done-100000-pieces-i done-dis-i done dat'. It's the renegade. It's being ready to dis everything that's wrong about this world and to take the shit for it. It's sticking to your word even when it hurts. Why writers write, why djs dj, why dancers dance, with or without money, approval and acceptance. You get more respect if you speak up against what's wrong, state what's right. Absorbing reality goes deeper than just absorbing the facts. That's why I paint the truth.

'No child is born hard but out here you learn it. You have to make a choice early. I started writing cos that's how I felt and that was the way I was saying it. You do shit cos that's how you feel. I wanted to create something good, instead of all the shit I saw around me. The public can respect your art, notice your art even if they don't understand it mentally or don't accept you as a person. It doesn't matter if you can't read it. You can read it in another way. Why should I alter my style so people can understand it? I think that whole attitude is wrong. The whole point is that it is a challenge to your way of seeing things.

'I want to teach people. If you're going to give so much, it must be real. YOu must write from inside, have something to say, show some understanding and humanity.

'I had the desire and the quest then. I still do. Once you understand something's wrong, nothing can numb you to reality. Society's fucking me and my ass. I've got to work ten times as hard as the next muthafucka just because I'm black. I'm a prisoner in my own city. I daren't go to the Bronx - I get shot down. Can't go here, can't go there. In America, you never know what price you have to pay for being what you are. I can't afford to walk in the wrong neighbourhood - I stand out like a sore thumb.

'That's one reason why writing at night was such a release. Freedom. Doing a lay-up. Able to be everything you are without that pressure.

'I'd rather give something to my culture than to society.If I was to wait for people to legalise what I am and what I do, I'd waste my life. So I just do it anyway. This art is my life. Hip hop - this is how we live, man. Not 'This is cool'.  We've always partied - we had to. We've always made usic. I disrespect those who are mentally hard and those artshows and their work. People say: 'Who's your enemy?' The enmy is everything that's going to destroy our art, our youth, our future.

'We've got to stick together whether it's a bad scene or not. We can't make it on our own. The only thing that will keep this culture together is to get a unity, to come together more. Writing - we've created our own language, our own alphabet. I'm not surrendering this up to anyone. I say to those who copy, write over, sell-out - don't! You're taking everything we built and risked backwards. I don't care if you're in my 'group', you're destroying, you're my enmy whatever colour or class you are. You are an enemy to yourself and you are an enemy to this culture.'