LIL SOUL 159 INTERVIEW
© 2003 @149st Do not republish without permission.
Where and what year did you start writing on trains
I began motion tagging in the summer of 1973, and did my first piece in Pitkin Yard (back then we called it Linden Plaza or grant yard) in Brooklyn in September 1973.
What borough are you originally from?
South Jamaica, Queens - 40 projects.
What inspired you to become involved in writing?
I started seeing the tags on the outsides around 1971 and 1972 when I was 11 and 12 years old. I never dreamed that I would be able to do it myself, so I just was an admirer. In early 1973, some of the older guys in my neighborhood started hitting around the neighborhood and on buses. That summer, I was coming home from the pool in Flushing Meadows Park, and saw their names on the train. I ran all the way home and told them that I saw their names on the train, and that they had to take me too.
Did you have a mentor?
WIZARD 159 aka ZION-I (rip), and his brother, the THE BIG O 159 showed me the ropes after they were taught by ODD (aka WHIN 161, DAC 1, WISE 1). ODD also took me under his wing, so I guess I was his "grandson" so to speak.
Who influenced your style?
When I evolved into my final and best tagging style, for "exp," I used the same "e" that WISE 1 and K-GEE used in their tags. I used a triangle for my "i" which was a variation of SPIN's sideways triangle that he used in his tag. My "s" was a combination of SPIN's and STAY HIGH's. As for piecing, I never made it to wild style. I started off with the basic block letters and ended with the bubble style.
How did you get your name and number?
I chose my own name. I was really into the Black power scene and was a little guy, so I picked the name LIL SOUL, and followed it with my street number of 159.
List all the other names under which you have painted?
There was one and only one name, and it was… LIL SOUL 159!!! However, there was a slight variation on my tag. Initially I wrote LIL SOUL INC. 159. INC. stood for incorporated. Then I changed it to EXP, which stood for Express.
What lines have you hit?
A, AA, B, E, EE, F, GG, J, M, RR, 1, 3, 4, and 5.
Who were your most successful partners?
SKATE 1 was the king of the Queens ding-dongs. Me, UNCLE JOHN 178 and TEAR 2 went to the same high school and wrote a lot together before I started hanging out at Atlantic Avenue. TEE 3YB was the first writer to bring me to the big time on the IRTs. OO ONE aka CADD was all over and finally, TRUE 2 (rip), SIN 158, and SOFIVE but SOFIVE was really my main partner because I went to the most yards and lay-ups outside of Queens with him.
What crews have you written for?
Quite interestingly, none.
Did you have any memorable conflicts with other crews on the subway?
Nothing heavy, but seems like every time I went to the concourse, I was always beefing with LIL ROCK and LIL KINDU. They felt Queens writers did not belong on the IRTs. After hearing so much shit from them, one day I was in the Kingston Avenue Lay-up in Brooklyn and did a really sweet top to bottom right over LIL KINDU!!! The next time I went to the concourse, he runs up to me...." LIL SOUL... LIL SOUL...You backgrounded me! I kept denying it even after he told me he knew I was lying because he memorized the car numbers of all his pieces. Now I'm saying to myself, "Damn, these Bronx writers are on a whole different level." Although I can't recall ever meeting FLAME 3, for some reason, at the tail end of my career, he was tagging his name and my name inside of a lot of writer's pieces on the Queens lines. To make matters worse, the tags looked just like I did them! Fortunately, my reputation in Queens was as solid as a rock, so everyone knew I was being jealously set up.
Do you have any good raid stories?
During the weekdays, they used to lay trains up between 169th Street and Parsons Boulevard. When we got to 169th, they had cops at both sides of the platform—I guess guarding it. On the Parsons end of the tunnel, there is a signaling tower. Me, TRUE 2, KODAK, PAUL, and at least six or seven other writers refused to let this stop us, so one by one, we went in through Parsons. This was really dumb because it was virtually impossible to get in that way without being seen; especially this many writers. After about a half-hour, we see flashlights on the Queens-bound and Manhattan-bound catwalks from 169th and Parsons stations coming toward us. Then all the lights in the trains came on. We tried the emergency exits, but heard transit radios on both sides. As we come down the exit steps, the cops and work bums are closing in with no way out for us! When the next road train came creeping through the tunnel towards 169th street, I jumped out on the track waving my arms back and forth. The train stopped, and we all climbed up and in. SIN 158 and CAN 134 and a few other guys who didn't go in the lay-up with us were on the first car of that train trying to see what was going to happen to us. They told me that after I jumped out on the track and then back in between the layed-up train, the motorman almost fainted. He kept saying "I don't wanna' kill a kid! I don't wanna kill a kid!" Either that was the most incompetent raid in the history of writing, or the cops were so relieved that I wasn't dead, they just went on their way, because not a single person got busted. With all that police action, how else did they think so many writers could have gotten out of the tunnel other than climbing into the stopped road train? After that, I had a reputation of being wild and crazy, but whenever we got chased, everybody always followed me.
Who were the main cops when you were writing?
In Queens, there were two uniforms. One's name I can't remember, but his partner's name was Smitty. There was a police station at 169th Street, and their beat was from there to Continental Avenue. In Brooklyn, it was the infamous plainclothes cop, Artie.
Did you go to the Atlantic Avenue 149th Street parsons or Continental Avenue writer's benches, and if so do you have any interesting memories?
Parsons Boulevard was my home station. When I first started hanging out there, MINGO was the "boss" of Parsons. Once he moved on to the 4s and Ds, I became the king of parsons, where I was the big fish in a small pond. Parsons was where I got my first train key. A bunch of us were on the platform playing with the train doors when the conductor foolishly left his cab to get us. That's when I reached in and took his key. My best memory at Parsons was when TEE and the rest of the Atlantic Avenue 3YB writers came to meet me. I started hanging out at Continental Avenue after I met UNCLE JOHN and TEAR. I was still a big fish, but the pond was now getting bigger. I also roped my second train key there, the same way I did at Parsons. The day after I met TEE and STIM (rip) and the Brooklyn 3YB crew, they brought me to Atlantic Avenue which became my final home before I quit writing. Now I was a small fish in a verrrrrrrry big pond. I did hang out at 149th quite a bit, but there I was just a fu*kin' guppy.
What made your area of the city special?
If you lived in the Greater Jamaica area of Queens (South Jamaica, Saint Albans, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens, Rosedale, etc.), you had to catch a bus after you got off the train to get home, so we were the only borough to extensively bomb buses.
Who were the top writers from your area?
WIZARD 159 (aka ZION-I) (rip), THE BIG O 159, LIL ACE 159, FOOTSTEP, TRUCK 2, WICKED (aka ROYAL 1, aka SINBAD), DIZZY 1 (aka WAIT 525), COOL COKE 1, LUKE, FRO, LIL ACE 172, MINGO 1, STEVE 61, LIL OUTLAW, SUPER KID, SIN 158, TRUE 2 (rip), SOFIVE, PAUL (aka STOP 2), CAN 134, MOVE 1, QUIK, KODAK, RHINO, DISCO, SKATE 1, MOVE 1, COSA, (aka MR. KNOX), NICE 1, EASY 1 (aka NE 3), EX-1, EARL (aka SAVE THE CHILDREN, SHASTA 62), SHAWN 67.
Are there any writers of your era that you feel need more acknowledgement in history?
SUPER STRUT, SPIN, DIZZY 1, STOP 700, SHARK 77, A TRAIN, 7 UP, FDT 56, HOY 56, TINE 1, CLYDE, WISE 550, TJ 159, DEFIER, SHINTO, FLINT 707, ACE 137, LUIS 1, COCO 144, TAN 144, CAY 161, JUNIOR 161, PURPLE HAZE 168, DICE 198, SKI 168, CLYDE, DR. J 127, TREE 127, COOL CLIFF 120, BIG D, POLKA, CHUCK 129, TEX 2 (aka NACO), EX-CON, BACH, KANE, CASPER 1, RICO, ROSS 1, MOSES 147, AJ 161, MINGO 1, STEVE 61, PISTOL 1, KILLER, SAVAGE, PIPER 1 (aka CHASE 2), LAMA 1, DASH, TYCO 1, DIABLO 1, PRIEST 310, MR. AL, MR. ED, BLAST 1, BLACKBALL, CHINO 174, CASH, PAWN, SHORTY 13, ODD (aka WHIN 161, DAC 1, WISE 1), K-GEE, MALT DUCK, SAINT 150, BON 134, BLUE 134, and just too many more for space to allow.
When did you quit painting trains?
Summer of 1975.
How do you feel about the state of writing today?
I think it is awesome! The stuff I see in magazines, TV commercials, music videos, and the canvases and walls are phenomenal, but the New York City trains were the foundation and lifeline of the culture! I'm glad that your Web site and many others refuse to let the new generation forget this.
Do you have any closing words?
Thanks for giving recognition to an old dinosaur like myself. After 28 years without a can in my hand...boy do I need practice. Rest in Peace to all the fallen soldiers that I wrote with and those I never met.
Mommy I miss you!!!
Back to LIL SOUL main page
| Home | Artists | Crews | History | Links | E mail | Glossary |