WEST FC INTERVIEW
©2002, 2003 @149st Do not republish without permission.
Where and what year did you start writing on trains?
I first started bombing trains in late 1983 on the number 1 line at the 225th Street elevated lay-up.
What inspired you to become involved in writing?
Several things. like most young writers I was seeking to identify myself to the outside world, and graff suited me well. I was always a creative person, but very shy. Graff allowed me to express myself freely and openly, and still maintain a quiet personality. Also, I came up while SKEME and DEZ (TNT), and ZEPH and REVOLT (RTW) were really rocking the IRTs and that was my major inspiration to want to paint trains.
Did you have a mentor?
I have had several, but most importantly there was KEO (X-Men), and FLITE (TDS). When I was a young toy, KEO educated me as to the do's and don'ts of graff. He gave me a lot of foundation in the history and culture of graff. He didn't actually teach me letters, but I learned by watching him. KEO also introduced me to the X-Men from Brooklyn, which was the first official crew that I got down with.
I met FLITE when he came to my high school looking for me over some beef. We squashed it through mutual friends (SPOOK TTC and THUD FC). At this time I was killing insides at the lay-ups, and FLITE had already begun to do cars with a distinct FBA style. I learned my basics from him and soon after we met he actually gave me an A to Z simple style alphabet. Since that time I have been giving alphabets to young members of FC. FLITE is also the first person who brought me to the 145th Street tunnels, where later FC would reign.
Who influenced your style?
I have several influences, but style-wise I can trace my influences to two general schools, both from the IRT's. The first is TNT/TC5 - SKEME, SEEN, DEZ, etc... The second is definitely FBA - AIRBORNE, TACK, RASK, SON, etc... I believe that FBA was the most important crew of that era, and one of the top three most important crews of all time in terms of style evolution.
How did you get your name?
When I was hanging out with KEO, he told me that I needed to find a name if I wanted to start seriously bombing. I came up with a list of five names. He went down the list crossing out the ones that were taken. The only one that was left was WEST so I stuck with it.
List all the other names under which you have painted?
I wasn't one to do lots of different names, but I have done lots of pieces for others in my crew. I did do one 'JEW' piece with DOC who did an 'ARAB' piece.
What borough are you originally from?
Money making Manhattan.
What lines have you hit?
I was dominantly rocking the number 1 Broadway local, but over the years I've bombed the Ds in The Bronx, the As at 175th Street, and the 3s at 148th.
Who were your most successful partners?
In one respect I have had many partners because our crew is very tight. But in reality I have had five real 'partners'. The first was bombing insides with PLEEZE FC, then FLITE, SERGE, POKE (IBM), and RISK.
What crews have you written for and participated with?
I am down with lots of crews, but the only crews I really represent are - FC, TC5, FBA, X-Men, and IBM.
Give us a brief history of FC.
FC,originally 'First Class', was started as a graff crew/gang on the border of Yonkers in The Bronx in 1982. The original president was PHIL167 (who later wrote THUD). Original FC was very close to BSC (Bronx Style Crew) in The Bronx. I met PHIL in 1983 through PLEEZE and ALAS. A few months after I got down. PHIL gave me power to start a division of FC in Manhattan. I ran with it from there and started building a crew in midtown. Later in late 1984 PHIL handed the crew to me and JEL. I always took a serious and slow approach to building the crew. I followed the model of TC5 where membership was not easy. No one has ever been casually put down with FC. Anyone who is down was put down after great consideration. The questions I always asked myself, for all prospective members is 'What can this person do for FC?, and what can we do for him?'
Up until the early '90s FC had three strongholds - Yonkers, Midtown, and Co-op City in The Bronx. Later as the crew slowly expanded we became pretty much city-wide. Right now we have members in California, Florida, Jersey, Japan, etc.. I have a very traditional approach to the crew. I believe in apprenticeship. I believe in teaching the young generation, in the hopes that they will elevate FC style and prolong the legacy.
Did you have any memorable conflicts with other crews on the subway?
FC has had beef with many crews. most significantly was MSK, WC, and SW. There was a lot of crossing out, a few beat downs, a few chases, but eventually everything was squashed.
Any good raid stories?
When did you quit painting trains?
Over the past several years FC has created many large scale murals. Explain the evolution of that work.
Basically FC took on a new era in the '90s when the crew began to rock lots of full scale productions. The real thing that we brought to graffiti in the '90s was the concept of painting as a unit, as a crew. Each member has his own style and flavor, but our color schemes, backgrounds, and concepts are always completely unified. We don't throw lots of tags around our pieces, we donŐt do a lot of unnecessary painting. The productions are clean and tight. also, at a pivotal moment in graff when everyone was getting heavy into technique, and all kinds of technical bullsh*t, we maintained a focus on style and simplicity which is missing in graff today amongst most young writers.
You have extended your creativity into an extremely successful clothing line, PNB. Give us a brief history on PNB from its founding to its vision for the future.
Basically PNB was started by SERGE, BRUE, and BLUSTER in college. SERGE asked me later in '91 if I wanted to get down, and I did. Our basic concept was to take the same energy, the same messaging, that we brought to trains - to clothing. We have always respected graff and hip-hop culture in general. We approach the clothing business like FC has approached graff. Unlike lots of companies that claim they are 'ex graffiti writers' we just do what we do, and we know where we come from. there is no 'ex' for us. When we are in our design studio and I look over and I see serge rocking graphics on the computer, I see the same face that I saw in the tunnels with me rocking burners, and the same face I see with me now when we do productions in the street. Basically PNB's mission is to represent the lifestyle that we live which in it's essence is hip-hop.
Do you have any closing words?
Rest in peace to NACE - FC Jersey City, and DREAM - FC Oakland. Peace to ZEAR FC in Argentina.
Fame City president
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