SPADE 127 INTERVIEW Part 1
©1999, 2003 @149st Do not republish without permission.
What borough are you from?
Manhattan. More specifically 140th and Broadway. I live at the beginning of what is called Washington Heights. I've been in and out of that hood, but I still live there today. I wouldn't trade it for anywhere else. It's where my roots are.
What year did you start?
About '77, motion tagging and getting up around the way.
What inspired you to write?
I was always into checking out the pieces on the outsides of trains and the writing on the insides when I went to school. I liked the colors and the style. There was mad hand style in the insides at the time, or at least I thought so. I wanted to do that. I felt an attraction to it that I really can't explain. I found it cool that so many people could see your work all over the city.
Who showed you the ropes?
This writer from around my block actually gave me the first real push from just liking to see it, to actually doing it. He wrote ZAM. He along with cats like CRANK, DOOM, and BOOM 2 first took me down to the 1 tunnel back in 77. I was 12 years old at the time. He took me racking for the first time and showed me what was up in the yards. I learned from him directly. Right now as I sit here and think about this, I think about how deep and full of life writing was back then. Heads went out and did what they did with genuine feeling. There is so much history that has been lost today. You hear a lot of talk about the so called famous writers, but not much about heads that went out day in and day out and did their thing. That's where the real essence is at least for me. Guys like ZAM, DOOM from around my way or BAN2 from the Bronx. These where cats that you don't hear much about today, but they wreaked mad havoc out there. And their example helped mad young heads coming out. I used to check out BAN2's drip tags and go out with flooded markers and kill it. I wanted my tags to drip like that.
Where and when did you first hit trains?
In 1977. I hit the 1 Tunnel.
Was SPADE 127 the first name you started writing?
Actually I wrote ACE for a little while but another head had it. I chose my names from the fact that I was constantly playing cards. And when you first try to come out with a name for yourself, you go to many sources for ideas. My ideas happen to have come from cards. I liked Spades so I used that name. The 127 came a little later. I used it to differentiate me from another head that tried to come out with the name. Eventually I came out on top cause I pushed that name so much it just became a part of me. I bombed insides and outsides like crazy. From then on heads knew me as SPADE cause I was on a mission to rock that shit. Almost everybody that knows me started calling me SPADE. It became my nickname around my way with my peeps that I still have to this day. Some heads that I know, don't even know my real name. They only know me as SPADE. And these are cats I've known for over 20-25 years. Picture that shit.
Where was your favorite place to hit?
Without a doubt the 1 tunnel between 137th St. and 145th St. and Broadway. I lived right upstairs, it was like home to me. Imagine, not having to go anywhere but right outside your house to go bombing the lines. Most writers had to travel far to go bomb. I know that when I went to bomb other lines I had to do mad traveling. That's why the 1 tunnel was so special to me, it was right under my home. Eventually it became like home to me. I used to be there a lot.
What was your favorite work that you did?
If I told you that I liked any one piece more than the other I'd be lying to you. My main concerns were always quality and quantity. But there was so much more to it than that. There was the fun or adventure if you want to call it that that went along with it. I always had fun and I always was happy with my work and my crews work. To me all our shit smoked everybody else's. I had no time to critique our work. Only to get ready for the next one and smoke mad writers. See back then a major factor was the pride you represent for yourself, your work and your crew.
The only critiquing was what the next burner would be, how you could you make it better. I loved all our shit. Some times the cold weather or the constant harassment from the 5-0, other crews or whatever caused you some drama. But it was overcoming all this and still coming off that was the best for me. Fame and recognition for me was a part of it also, but it was last on the list. What I did I did for me more than any one. But all this together made it a whole. This was what made me feel good. If anything that's what I'd call my favorite. That feeling was it for me, not any specific piece that I may have done. We've done so many pieces over the years, you kind of get into a mind set that: you go do what you gotta do, rock it, and then move on to the next one. My favorite FBA piece in general was the SAB, KAZE, done by TACK and KAZE that came out in Subway Art.
Who were your best writing partners?
I'd have to say most of the heads that started FBA with me. Cats like AIRBORN, TACK, KAZE, BABYROCK, RASK, RAGE, SILOROCK, BOBI, and BONK and a little later SERVE. We did mad damage. We ALWAYS took care of our own. There was a lot of rivalry back then. We did what we had to do to survive. That simply is the way it was. The reality of the times.
When did you do your last piece?
On the trains about late 82 early 83. On walls I still do a little something here and there whenever I can. I'm getting ready for the summer this year and maybe do a wall or two with a couple of the heads from the crew.
How and when did FBA start?
About '78. We had been trying out different names for a little while, but hadn't really settled on anything. We had other crews like TMA, WKTU, etc. nothing concrete though. FBA really had its roots from about four or five heads from around the same block that had the same interests, writing. We were friends way before we were writing that's why we were so close when we were hitting the lines. No ego problems among us. We worked all that shit out years before. We were boys, that's how we took it. In '78 AIRBORN and TACK went to A&D. There they met this kid from the Bronx there named KAZE. This kid turned out to be mad real. Together with us he set out to get the crew going. One day they were kicking around some names in the school cafeteria and one of their boys from school who wrote SEP kicked the name FBA, or FAST BREAKIN ARTIST. The rest is history. FAST BREAKIN ART was formed. Fast Breakin because that's how we operated, we went in rocked it, and were out. No bullshitting around, straight to the point, get the job done and do it well, and be out. Art because we felt we had mad artistic talent. It's probably a little biased, but in my opinion we had some of the best. I truly believe that. We had other names for the letters FBA, like FUCKING BITHCHES ALLOVER, FIRST BEFORE ANYONE, etc. But FAST BREAKIN ART(IST) was the norm.
Who was the original president of FBA? (How did a writer become a member?)
We didn't work like that. We had no prez and we still don't have one. We do our shit by consensus, we all decided on things that will affect the crew as a whole. It always worked well for us that way. Nobody got swelled heads, that way we were all equal. If we wanted to bring in someone to the crew we'd kind of nominate that person and either meet with the rest of the crew and decide it or whoever nominated the new cat went to all the members to get an approval for the them. Most of the people that were nominated got in, some didn't. that's the way it was. We allowed people in the crew not only based on skill, but also on character. If we thought you were a backstabber or some other fucked up shit. You could be the best writer in the world, but you couldn't be down with us. If only one member said no that was it, you were out of the running, with us it was all, or nothing. We were, and are still like family. We back each other up till the end. Then the same as now. I remember mad times we had to rep and take care of business, none of the heads from our crew turned their back on you and ran. We couldn't have people like that down with us. People who would only look out for themselves and say fuck everybody else.
What crews are FBA tight with?
FC, TC5, KD, TNB, TMT and really with all writers and crews.
Describe FBA's artistic motivations:
We try to be as innovative and unique as possible, doing things no one else has done, or at the very least, attempting to do so. While at the same time building upon the basic styles of the time, present, as well as past. Mixing them together to create a totally different art style, yet somehow familiar. We simply call it FBA style. We pay close attention to detail, overall concept, and tend to try and work as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality. The main focus always being: coming out with the hottest, knock down, stop you in your tracks, make you look twice piece of artwork. Back in the days you had to work quickly as well as extremely efficiently if you wanted to burn due to the 5-0 constantly trying to harass you. Sometimes it was a piece of cake. The very next week it was a raid. You never knew what was going to happen. All of these qualities and ideas helped us achieve artistic expression on a train using the surfaces of the trains as our medium. This was but one of the factors motivating us in our writing
To SPADE interview part 2
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