L.A. Crews

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BLACK 5(ZECK) KIL interview

(L.A. Crews)-what u write???.

(BLACK-5)-Black 5 (aka Zeck) Kickin It Live.

(L.A. Crews)-what crews r u from???.

(BLACK-5)- KIL and STK.

.(L.A. Crews)-how did your crew(s) get started???.

(BLACK-5)- G-nice (RIP) who wrote AIM at the time, MERGE, and MERK started KIL. Later, a lot of “fame” started when MANE, DEKO, ORION, SCENT, TEST, MYTH, PROBLEM, SPEK, SMUGE, SKOR, ECKO, RECON, and me as ZECK were heavily active in the crew around ‘88-’90..

(BLACK-5)- STK was started by RULER. .

(L.A. Crews)-how did u get your nickname????.

(BLACK-5)- “Micro” sounded fresh in 85, and I liked the wide M’s, the halo dot for an “i”, and my R that curled up at the back to make an “O” that I threw a dot in the middle of. That was fresh to me at the time. But names from outerspace and “ice” names got corny. I liked the letter “Z” and wanted to innovate with it. Combined it with the E-C, and started writing ZECK (originally ZEC). BLACK5, was a back up, that I began to write more. .

.(L.A. Crews)- what year did u begin to write?????.

(BLACK-5)- I first began writing MICRO in the summer of 84, ZEC in 86, and then as BLACK5 in the 90’s..

(L.A. Crews)- How did u get started in graff????.

(BLACK-5)- In 84 Hip-hop started affecting kids in the area. Its like we all understood some secret message that we couldn’t speak, we just had to do it. Puma Suits, Karate shoes, Name buckles, Flips shirts, Fat Laces, you couldn’t say we weren’t rockin it. That year I went with a lot of kids to see the movie Breakin’ at the Mann Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Among those kids was a friend that later wrote TERK (RIP), some told me that later one of those kids wrote AXIS CBS(Not sure…haven’t seen him since). None of us were writing at the time, but we all agreed that the music was fresh, and it was to that backdrop that you started working on our own styles. I started writing MICRO after that night and another one of those kids wrote SLAM. We’d catch the bus t o Westwood, Venice Beach, Hollywood, RADIOTRON, SKRATCH-JAM-PALACE, OSKOS DISCOS, and later JAMCITY. Also, there was a DJ named, Tony “TOUGH” that inspired me. TOUGH had a crew of DJs that he’d perform with at a club called “Oskos Discos”. I was 11 and would carry in record crates for the chance to be a part of it. DJ TOUGH was actually very good at piecing. He’d do pieces at the local elementary school down the block, while I was going there. I knew it was him and it blew my mind that a person I knew came to the lunch area, saw the wall, stepped up and did it. I wanted to do it. Also an artist that wrote ZIGGY (later ECKO), lived near to TOUGH. I went with him and TOUGH to do a piece at the MOTOR YARD. At the time that yard’s walls were clean in the middle and up top.&n bsp; That inspired me to do more, too. .

.(L.A. Crews)- what did/do u like to write with?????.

(BLACK-5)- Drippy Uni-ball paint markers were my favorite. Refilled with Krylon..

.(L.A. Crews)- who did u see up back in the oldschool days???.

(BLACK-5)- ALSKI was everywhere I looked with the white paint marker at one time, on the green light poles next to the walk button, and on bus benches.SOON & LEGIT. MINER had some of the first scribes on glass I’d seen and a lot of other landmark firsts. GIN, METRO, and RASE killed those Power signs. MANE, DEKO and RECON put in so much work with scribes at the back of the buses that they outlasted most, even after they’d long stopped..

.(L.A. Crews)- whats your favorite colors to do pieces with or bomb with????.

(BLACK-5)- Ultra Flat Black and tester cans.

.(L.A. Crews)- do u still write????.

(BLACK-5)- No. (I still doodle and do pieces on paper when I’m bored) For now I just try support hip-hop that I like when I can, because its wack to me when I see no one like me at venues. I don’t blame the youth that are there. It’s fly that they’re attending. But, so many people that are my age and that were once part of the scene just threw it away. So who can blame anybody that walks along and picks up a gem. I try not to throw it away. If you like any of that shit support it..

.(L.A. Crews)- Did u ever hit buses ?what lines did/do u kill???.

(BLACK-5)- 105, Blues (7/10/12), 217.

.(L.A. Crews)- any beef with anyone or any crews?????.

(BLACK-5)- No. During 88-90, there was turmoil between KIL and NTS for some reason. UTI and NTS had gotten close around that time, too. When DCK merged with KIL it was sealed because DCK and UTI were beefing over something old (Maybe DASH wca/dck vs DASH 2000 uti, not sure). I saw SORSE and SCAM from UTI at a friend named DJ BLUE’s crib about 4 years ago and we tripped off those times. Even during those times many of us knew each other, even went to school with each other. At that time there was still a difference between gangs and graffiti crews. And we were definitely in graffiti crews. There were limits to that beef shit. It’s sad to hear about crews later killing each other, that’s crazy shit. Back then, even if a writer was in a gang (and a lot were) they tried to keep it separate from the art world (Unfortunately it still affected where some could go). That tag-bangin shit was something the media created out of their misunderstanding the graffiti scene. Just look at that word “tag-banging”. It’s corny. Graffiti artists didn’t create that. LA’s HIPHOP/ Graffiti movement and LA’s gangs were not about the same thing, but I think unfortunately tag-banging was bound to happen because that was all the media pumped about graff while at the same time the police were shutting down the major graffiti yards, making the art less noticeable. Some of the writers that came after our generation bought into that shit on TV, and couldn’t see the history, or even how graffiti connected to HIPHOP from earlier years..

.(L.A. Crews)- do u have any graffiti stories u would like to share????.

(BLACK-5)- Everyday was an adventure. It was a good time. All you needed was a bus pass, your own style, and a mission. I’ll tell you about an incident though that I remember. Someone tried to frame me at the Miracle Mile Ohrbachs yard in 88 or 89. They wrote “ZEC” in one of FRAME ONE’s pieces. I hadn’t known about it at the time and took a visit to Motor yard one day. FRAME was there and approached me about it. That was real strange to me, because our crew had a lot of silly beef going with UTI at the time over some legacy shit that started with DCK, or maybe because of something between KIL and NTS (who had gotten close with UTI over time), but this was way out. FRAME and I agreed to have our crews meet the next weekend. So, KIL met with a mixture of STN/KTS at Motor that weekend.& nbsp; By coincidence, SPICE and ECKO caught up to some cats about to get on a Culver bus that confirmed that someone else had written my name in the piece. PRAISE and PARIS were there (maybe CASE too, can’t recall). They said something about ZEV or NTS doing it. They brought word back to the place in the yard where KIL and STN were. With the truth exposed it was cleared up, and we headed back to Fairfax and Olympic..

As we left the yard there was a writer, a kid that had a piece book with NTS all over it. I remember what he wrote but I’d hate for him to be remembered that way so I won’t mention it. I don’t think that kid was even from NTS, but some other kids overheard our discussion and pointed him out to STN, as we were leaving. The last I heard from that kid was him saying “I’m not from NTS anymore, I just got out. I’m from TNT…I’m from TNT now, I’m from TNT.” He sounded like he was pleading for his life. I had thought about that kid a few times since then. Our crews were probably heroes to that kid. He probably woke up every morning somewhere in LA and saw graffiti as a way to get respect for creating beauty or by getting recognition by seeing his name everywhere that society otherwise might not have allowed him to go. He probably looked up to “big” crew names like NTS, KIL, STN, and TNT. On any other day that kid probably would have been smiling as someone signed his piecebook. Instead, there he was pleading for his life because he looked up to a crew that was local to where he lived and out of that decided to write it all over his book. I’ve always thought that whole scenario was wack..

.(L.A. Crews)- did u ever get caught????.

(BLACK-5)- There was a time when Me, SPEK, and PROBLEM went racking in Anaheim. PROB was in disguise mode that day, I wanna even say he wore a suit. But he had this brief case or something that he put all his paint and markers in. We were on a bus few blocks away from the Writer’s Corner. The day was done far as I was concerned, I had racked so much that I could barely move. SPEK acted a fool and took the glass top out of some green pilot ink. He knew that shit would spill everywhere and started just smearing the shit all over with a bundle of newspapers. I was half asleep, and happy with my winnings. The bus driver said quit, looked in the rear view and hit the horn to signal some cops. We were like what’s up. Me and SPEK looked on as PROB slipped out the f ront door with the rest of the civilians in his professional get-up. We followed. When we got out the door I was the only one that got arrested because someone pointed at me and said SPEK had nothing to do with it. I couldn’t believe it..

.(L.A. Crews)- how has L.A. graffiti changed from the oldschool days till nowadays???.

(BLACK-5)- I’ve been looking at zeros and ones on the East Coast for a while now, and I haven’t kept up with HIPHOP evolution back home. But, I think the evolution is different now because when I last checked I couldn’t see the pattern of style innovation as easily (Mostly from being out of it I guess) There was definitely more of a pattern to it before that I don’t see now. In 84 writers wrote with just about any style they wanted. ICE, COLD, CHILL, FREEZE in your name was popular. Then came the triangle A’s, teardrop P’s, D’s, R’s, B’s, etc, and those classic wide M’s, with the classic lower-case ‘e’ that came back again in the late 90’s. And everyone began conforming (or was labeled a toy). Then, the blockie letters came in, where the top part of your letters was large and the bottom small. Everybody started writing more alike, the meaningful three to five letter and vowel-consonant-E names (ending with IME, AME, ASE, ISE,etc) were quickly taken. I noticed people dropping C’s in their names for K’s. People added –ER, and ONE to their names, and would write their initials (ZC for ZEC, etc.) Then, I think graffiti went more official as a major in the school of LA HIPHOP, and cats separated themselves from the breakin’ era. I guess BREAKIN had gotten so well publicized when it was in that in order to be new or really “fresh” people wanted to move on. Most stopped doing the other majors of HIPHOP like BREAKIN’, DJAYIN’, and EMCEEING, they just did pieces and kept blackbooks. (Much respect to those that DJAY’D too, like DJ SKO R, DJ ROB rip, DJ SMUGE, and others) I remember even writing got kinda funny too, because someone would say “You write?” and cats would be like” Nah, I’m an Artist!”… like being a “writer” was a major insult. At that time styles really flourished on walls and in blackbooks. The concept of can control became immense. Cats were like “Look at how straight a line I can make”, or “Damn he did that piece with all stock tips”. If you used a stencil to block off a section while piecing, rather than freehanding it seemed like points would get dropped during those days. There were so many different original styles around. LA didn’t have trains, so you either had the opportunity of a lot of time on a wall, or very little time hitting up a bus. And hitting BUSES came it affected all the graffiti artists in LA, whether they liked it or not. BUSES caused Bombin’ to surge hardcore around ‘86 – ’89. Buses gave those that wanted to bomb a live medium. Fact is cats got so good at bombin that it brang heat to any form of graffiti. Known yards like Jefferson and Motor where cats could just post up and piece all day painting walls began to get raided and buffed more frequently. Styles were still flourishing on walls, but you were more likely to get buffed, written in, or chased away by cops. BUSES caused letters to change, too. Because you had to write quicker, so letters began connecting. The “se” connection comes to mind. I’m not sure who busted that first, maybe SEKIO or SER. But graffiti is open-source, so overnight everyone was connecting any of the letters in their names they could for the sake of a quicker tag. I remember seeing that the Blue Crew had introduced a lettering style that was similar to one done by GNOME from NewYork on an old JUST-ICE album. The e’s and c’s were very distinct, pointy at the top. The effects of MANE’s E’s with the vertical line at the end were being seen in the tags of others. Writers were feeding off of others and moving on. The changing of styles was inspiring and alive. After that a resurgence of East Coast and old Los Angeles styles came with throw-ups and letters bombing letters, (that’s when I started rockin BLACK5 with BL throw ups.) Most of my crew had stopped around then. BUSES forged the network that LA graffiti needed. They were the TRAINS of Los Angeles. It gave exposure to artists through out the whole city. The names of valley writers were appearing on LA lines that connected to the Valley. Most lines led to downtown, so it was natural that all artists travel there to hit lines that gave more coverage. And when it wasn’t the buses it was the bus benches and landmarks along the lines. The old green bus benches didn’t stand a chance against the meanstreaks and silver paint markers. Because BUSES attracted so many to LA’s graffiti scene, the way artists got their supplies changed too. Spots were getting burnt because of all the writers. I remember leaving stationary stores thinking damn that’s burnt. Or the worse was when you took a long bus ride to get to a spot you had been to before, only to find someone else had burnt it. That would later happen to me at thrift shops and record stores. You find a nice remote spot; you think no one knows about. There’s so much untouched vinyl for cheap. So, you stash a couple of records in the Country music section. When you return next week you find that someone from Japan came to the spot and bought the entire store. They burnt it just the same. Spots had got so burnt during the start of the BUS era that crews like NBT and KWS started mob-racking to get their supplies. Where they’d just walk into an art or paint store 20 heads deep and take the store, behind the counter, over the counter around the counter, on the camera, off the camera. I guess they just didn’t care because the stores were hip to the sneak tip moves pulled by crews earlier. Later buffing became so strong that the BUS era died. At the same time a lot of the yards were being lost. After came the FREEWAY/ FREIGHT era …and then the ROOFTOP/BILLBOARD era with heavy involvement of MSK and LTS… …and now the GALLERY era continues for many artists. Each phase of LA graffiti flourished on the element of surprise, and as the city got wise to it for anyone entering that phase it was that much more difficult, because the system was ready after the damage put in by the writers at the start of the phase. And now I don’t know where it’s headed. I think the noticeable pattern may be gone because a lot of history’s hasn’t been preserved which is just another form of buffing. A lot of the new writers don’t even know the old ones existed. But graffiti is still alive. And that’s fly, because the next generations will be starting from scratch, original and developing new styles of their own. Its just changed shape the same way that HIP-HOP music has gone through so many changes… only different. The buffing of BUSES and WALLs created a new type of LOS ANGELES graff artist. Just like the attacks on sample-based music morphed the landscape of hip-hop music, to bring about new styles..

.(L.A. Crews)- Have u ever battled anyone in graffiti?????if so who won????.

(BLACK-5)- Nothing serious. A friend of DJ DDAY’s was writing SWAMI and I started doing permission walls with him downtown and in Hollywood. At most, SWAMI and I had a friendly competition going. .

.(L.A. Crews)- Did u ever hit freeways?????.

(BLACK-5)- No. At the time buses, streets and yards were in..

.(L.A. Crews)- any last words or shout outs?????.

(BLACK-5)- To all the dislocated B-Boys and B-Girls now living “normal” lives and dealing with the simple pleasures in life now, like spending time with their friends and family while you can, putting food on the table, watching their kids grow, dealing with ailments of old age, confronting racism (Don’t front. That shit still exists) and whatever the day brings, I salute you for being a part of the LA’s HIPHOP movement.



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