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LAVA 1 & 2

(Ex/ VANDALS, I.N.Dís, WAR, T.E.D-Inc)


STARTED : Early 1970's

AREA : Manhattan Spanish Harlem New York & The Bronx New York


lines hit : 1's, 2's, 3's, 5's,( King Of the 6 line ), 7's, AA's, B's, CC's, D's, E's, F's, GG's, J's, M's, N's, RR's,





 Lava started his writing career in Spanish Harlem under the name STRAIGHT MAN or sometimes SM for short. In the 1960's and early 1970's the Outlaw Street gangs were a way of life in New York city  and Lava was a big part of that, becoming division leader of one of the most feared but respected gangs of New York city  ( The Back Spades ) in the early 70's.  Under the name Straight man he would become a very well know writer on the Buses  and streets, writing with the likes of early single hit ( Taggers) kings : COOL CLIFF 120, HILT 505, PIPER 1 and JACE 2, until moving on to the Subways. Lava would later make his name big on the Bronx and Brooklyn lines and join forces with some the biggest writing groups of the time, The I.N.D'S ( THE INDEPENDENTS ), T.E.D-INC ( THE EBONY DUKES ) and Brooklyn's elite groups the EX/VANDALS and W.A.R ( WRITERS ARE RESPECTED ). These alliances would help Lava to become a very big City wide writers on the I.R.T's, B.M.T's and I.N.D's. During the early generation of Master pieces he would play a big part in the evolution, painting with the likes of PHASE2, LIONEL 168, STAFF 161 and TRACY 168. There are many Subway Kings left out of History, Here is his story.


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I was born in Spanish Harlem in 1953 to a mother and father who came from Carolina Puerto Rico which is the home of the famous Base Ball player ROBERTO CLEMENTE. Many thought I was just a light skin black dude or what they referred to many brothers back then as ďHigh Yellow.Ē But Iím Boricua from uptown Manhattan. I began writing with my brother KOOL BREEZE in 1970 or the early part of 1971. We both love hitting the buses and walls, it is what many writers did back then, guys like CAY 161, JUNIOR 161, TAKI 183, JOE 182, TONY184, EDDIE 181, COOL CLIFF 120, C.A.T.-87, HILT 505, CENTURY 120, JOCKEY 1, MAJOR 120, CLANCY 120, HULK 62, EDDIE 181, WEB 1&2, JEE 126, CAR 54 and BORICUA 1(from the Broadway line) Were dudes I saw hitting the streets and buses before moving over to subway cars.







I started writing STRAIGHT MAN before writing LAVA, it wasnít a name I picked but a name that was chosen for me while hanging out in the Bronx on 181st street and Baily Avenue. Both my cousinís had nicknames like Junbug and Capone and decided to give me one, so they picked ďSTRAIGHT.Ē I asked them why STRAIGHT?

            They said it was because I was very tall skinny and lathy. At first I was offended by others calling me by that name. But once I joined the street gang ďTHE REAPERSĒ no one in the group used their government names. The leader of the group asked what I wanted to call myself and I asked him what he thought about the name ďSTRAIGHT?Ē He said it sounded slick (good) but why donít you use man at the end of it. So I called myself STRAIGHT MAN. I never went out there and tagged up the name of the gang  on the walls or anywhere else in my neighborhood. I always knew how to draw and did the first acrylic colors on the jackets for the members of my gang, which was something that was never done before. A year later I joined the ďBLACK SPADESĒ and did the colors for the Manhattan division. It was for the group on the lower eastside, but I did the colors for the division uptown on 123rd street and Wagner Projects. They were the only groups who wore acrylic painted jackets. I personally felt they had the best looking colors in all of the BLACK SPADES divisions.






  There were cats in our neighborhood that use to tell us that we had best looking colors in the city. Word got out that it was me who was painting the colors for the group. My younger brother KOOL BREEZE was a member of the BLACK SPADES before me, which made it easier for me to be down with the group at first. One day they had a sit down (meeting) in the Soundview area of  the Bronx which was where the main division of the BLACK SPADES was originally from, and during that meeting they chose me to be supreme commander of the Borough of Manhattan and I took on that responsibility. I was in charge of four divisions and three chapters of the BLACK SPADES and held that title from 1969 till 1973. But through-out those years everyone called me STRAIGHT MAN or just STRAIGHT. Even when I was introduced to girls, it was STRAIGHT or STRAIGHT MAN. They use to hesitateÖ.then ask me where did that name come from? The girls thought the name was cool or slick ( good ). Most guys that looked like me had nicknames like Flaco, Iceberg slim etc. My name was unique because no one had it and I carried the name well.

            I came up with the LAVA or found the name in 1973. My brother and I just came back from tagging up the buses at about 3 in the morning. My hands were full of all kinds of ink and paint which was always a bitch to clean off. My brother KOOL BREEZE told me to use this soap called LAVA SOAP it was the strongest soap that they made back then to remove paint, ink or heavy duty dirt. I still to this day remember the look of the soap. There was a picture of a Volcano with LAVA spilling out of it, reading in bold print LAVA SOAP. I thought to myselfÖ..WOW! I like the way that sounds, Iím going to use that name. During that time a lot of writers were using second names, even my brother KOOL BREEZE had a second name ďT-SIP.Ē I began writing LAVA 1 then added the 2 next to it as well ( LAVA 1 & 2 ) so no toy would start writing the same name, which I would be LAVA the one and only! Lava also was a name that was easer  to piece with rather than Straight man. The name was catchy and many other writers would tell me, I think you should stick with that name.






 I kept writing Straight man and abbreviated the name by doing SM for short. My art improved more by doing LAVA pieces and slowly start to introduce these cowboy style letters to the trains, which impressed a lot of other writers in those early years and made me want to paint more with that name. I can recall doing a top to bottom whole car at Kingston Avenue lay upís in Brooklyn. I didnít do many top to bottoms throughout my writing career, perhaps about 5 or 6 in total. But this was the best. I painted a volcano with LAVA dripping down the letters. Itís was a real ďHotĒ which impressed so many other writers at the time. I have bombed so many subway lines, so many yards and lay upís though out the city but Kingston in Brooklyn was the best spot to do master pieces. Atlantic Avenue was the spot to bench trains out in Brooklyn. I use to hang out there with BOP-BOP, COCAINE 1, and SUPER STRUT, and after wards they would take me to some of their lay-upís out where they lived. They took me to a secret lay-up which they would hit often, from what I remember there was only one tag in the whole lay-up and it was this cat who wrote KOOL KITO. I have written with so many writers throughout the city, starting with my brothers KOOL BREEZE and AFRO 2, HULK 62 a/k/a GREEK 501, JOCKEY 1, COOL CLIFF 120, JEE 126, CLANCY 120, HILT 505, MAJOR 120, PIPER 1, ROSS 1, SPADE 158, JACE 2, ROME 150, MOSES 147, SEX 143, LEE 163, SLY 2, KOOL KEVIN 1, COOL JEFF, BIG ďOĒ 116, SUPER KOOL 223, CHARMIN 65, CHRIS 170, BONANZA, DYNAMITE 161 a/k/a DR. SOUL, STAFF 161, A.J. 161,SUPER SLICK






 156, KING KOOL 156, COKE 1-225, CAT 2233, STAY HIGH 149, CLYDE, FDT 56, NIGGER CHARLIE 1-170, PHASE 2, S-PAT 169 (PHASE 2ís girl friend), RIFF 170, LIONEL 168 a/k/a RIP 1, DICE 198 a/k/a SIR, PINTO 168, HRJ 2, RAY-B 954, SKI 168, LIL HAWK 149, STICK 1, SWEET CRUZ, HOT SOUSE 575 a/k/a HS 575, PURPLE HAZE 168, CLIFF 159, KING KOOL 143, TRACY 168, CHI-CHI 133, CHECKER 170, SUPER STRUT -TASS, COCAINE 1, SPIN 1, ULTRA KOOL, LIL ROCK 1&2, SPENCER 1, POISON 106, SUNDANCE, PAGE 505, COST 170 a/k/a PALO, NUN 1, and DR-B.






 149th street was the place where most writers would hang out and watch their trains go by that they did the night before. That was the place I met TRACY 168, I told him what I wrote and he saidÖ.yea thatís you? Another time I met him was on 180th in the Bronx. We started to become good friends and he brought me over to his neighborhood to meet some of his boys like CHI-CHI 133, plus a few other that I canít remember at this time TRACY and I became writing partners for a good two years hitting the Dís, CCís, Kís, LLís, 2ís, 4ís, 5ís and 7ís. I can remember taking a trip with TRACY  to bomb the 7 yard and our train ride there we bumped into 4






 other writers that were planning to bomb that same yard that very night. One of them wrote SPENCER 1 the others were SUNDANCE, PAGE 505, and last was POISON 106, these guys were pretty much all over the 7 line and was surprised to learn that they all came from around my way which was 106th street between Park and   professional artist, had a job  Madison. SPENCER was the best artist of the three. His older brother was a as a cartoonist for a big magazine in the 1970ís. I felt I was the guy who brought this guy out in to the writing.



 Before I met SPENCER who was fairly unknown mainly hitting the 7ís, which was a short line with not much exposure as well as him hitting the insides of the 6 line, but my brother KOOL BREEZE was the king of the insides of the 6ís at that time as well as me SEX 143 and KINDO were tearing that line apart inside and out. But just like what SPENCER was doing on the 7ís the 6 line is very over looked and many outsiders back then didnít really care to hit that line. Most guys who bombed the 6 line were mainly local writers doing simple pieces but once PHASE 2 and RIFF 170 got to that line and started doing some of their finest work. It caught a lot of attention with the writers on that line to start to get funky with their letters. TAKE 5 a 6 line writer who in the beginning were doing simple stuff, but due to competition of style on the line he became the best stylist on that train line with his wild use of letters, others doing nice work were COT, HORNET 1 and LOVE 1.


 I started bringing SPENCER to 149th to meet some of my boys, then after wards he started bringing PAGE, POISON and SUNDANCE to 149th st. SPENCER and I became very strong writing partners back then, after a while SPENCER started meeting so many different writers throughout the city and slowly our partnership came to an end. But I kept writing with TRACY 168 and other writers I had a strong friendship with. TRACY had these two guys which were his protťgťs, KING 2 and P-NUT 2 these two guys became great artist and did some of the best work on the number 4-line. TRACY use to have a bunch of little kids following him around, he would refer to them his little shadows. There was one kid that came to mind who was tagging FUZZ around Tracy's




neighborhood. I recall him being a nice kid back then but at times he would get a little snappy with his mouth. I can remember one day he got smart with my brother KOOL BREEZE while a bunch of writers were hanging out on a subway station in the Bronx, telling my brother he wasn't shit. My brother couldnít believe his ears and picked him up by one leg and threw him in the tracks. My brother wasnít a dude who liked bulling little kids but just wanted to scare this kid straight. The 4 yard was one of my favorite places to hit trains, TRACY and I would tear that place apart. I can remember one day me, STAFF 161, PURPLE HAZE 168, PHASE 2, plus nine other dudes (which I canít remember their names at this time) went in to that place and saw a brand new freshly painted whole train, it didnít even have the grey and blue yet on the car just all white. We all felt like it was just sitting there waiting there for us. That night we all had about four shopping bags full of paint each.

 There was a police car patrolling the area and we waited for the patrol car to leave. At that time we had the whole yard mapped out, the reason for that was we all went to Dewitt Clinton High School which was not far from the train yard. Once the patrol car left we jumped over the fence and aimed right for that freshly painted subway car and tore it up with tags on the inside and out as well as did a few pieces. Once we were all about done the work bums (yard workers) spotted us and called the cops, imagine 15 dudes running in all different directions, but the funny thing was that they all got out of the yard except me. I was stuck  under the train






  my head hit one of the transformers boxes under the train and knocked me out cold. Once I came to, I heard the cops speaking to one of the work bums and could see my boys waiting for me on the other side of the fence I laid there for a while longer so that the 5-0 (cops) would not spot me, and just when the 5-0 and the work bums turned their backs, I made a mad dash for the fence and in the process tore my paints up. I wasnít worried about getting nabbed (caught) by the cops or that I could have died under that train. But was worried more what my momís was going to say about my tore up paints. Eventually my mom got use to all the trouble me and brothers got into, and learned to accept it and just plain went with the flow.




 I use to bring a lot of writers to my house and she would get to know them and even write on their black books. ďMy mom was real coolĒ, as I said before I attended Dewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx and during that time everyone in that school wrote Graffiti in some shape or form. Slowing it became a hot bed for graffiti artists. I was already in my senior year at that time and a lot guys like PHASE 2 and a few others were a few grades back and a little younger than me, tiny achaball the basket player was in his senior year at the same time as me. PHASE 2 eventually graduated and attended  Brooklyn Tech College. He once took me with him to check out the campus.STAFF 161 was a student at Dewitt Clinton High School during



 the same time I attended. He was easy going dude with a good sense a humor unlike his brother A.J. 161 who was a little on the wild side. STAFF loved hanging out with RAY-B 954, who also wrote ME 163 and FLIP 1 a little before RIFF 170 took on the name. RAY-B was kind of a chunky guy and very social, he was the cat who introduced me to LIONEL 168 a/k/a RIP 1. LIONEL was from Prospect Avenue in the Bronx and believe he lived not far from CHARMIN 65, but I could be wrong, but anyway this cat was huge, almost as big as my brother (KOOL BREEZ) and if you should get a big mouth with him it was OVER! He didnít take any shit from any one, and those that knew him know what Iím talking about! I used to date CHARMIN 65 back in the day, in the early 70ís she was up on the trains just as much as many the guys that were bombing the



 trains. She had a real sweet hand writing style, and was just as brave going into  the yards then most guys hitting the yards back then. This girl used to amaze me on the stuff that sheís done. The 3 yard was one of favorite places to do pieces. You could go in there at midnight and no one would bother you and this yard is across the river from Yankee stadium. While painting you could feel the calmness of the water. I would go there JACE 2, PIPER who from what I recall were the leaders of the 3 Yard Boys. MOSES 147 would come with us every now and then. Those trains rarely switched over to the 2ís, 4ís and 5ís, MOSES 147 took me a few times to the 1 yard which was so bombed there wasn't much room. MOSES  from what I remember use to paint really fast it was hard to keep up with him.




            There wasnít a yard or lay-up in the city that I havenít bombed! I kinged the number 6 line for a while then moved over to the 2 and 5 lines. once I did that, then I started meeting a bunch of writers from the Bronx like PHASE 2 and many others. They not only had respect for the way me and my brother were getting up on the subways but because we were a little on the wild side and wasnít taking shit from any one. We used to roll in to a lay-up or yard and if we had to take some catís paint, it was just part of the game. KOOL BREEZE and I use to take our younger brother AFRO 2 along with us, but he wasnít there to do pieces. We brought him along just in case we had to crack other writers head open. Usually, I would do the out lines for my brother pieces and just have him fill it in. My brother KOOL BREEZE wasnít into doing pieces but he could tag his ass off. especially when it came to bombing the insides. Once writers started to HOT 110 each other, the shit got out of control! Dudeís






 just started losing respect for one another, and if I or my brothers caught anyone crossing out our work, it was over for them. There was one instance  when we caught one writer going over out shit, which he backgrounds our pieces with these ugly looking clouds. My brother KOOL BREEZE weight 200 pounds caught this dude and who happen to be with another cat. My brother beat the shit out of both those dudes at the same time. That day the word got out not to fuck with us! I also looked out for my boys like PHASE 2 and TRACY 168, if I found anyone who crossed out or back ground any of their shit, I or my brother KOOL BREEZE would catch them and fuck them up! I canít understand why that dude in the 80ís was out there crossing out so many writers work and no one grabbed him and fucked him up? If I was writing and this cat went over me or my brothers or any of my boys, I would have been at that dudes front door. Those that were there knew the deal!




  PHASE 2 was the first writer I would say was my closetís friend. He was 3 or 4 years younger than me, but he was mature beyond his years and so bright. The guy seemed to know a little bit of everything. I also took a liking to him because of his art. The guy would amaze me on the stuff he could draw and ideas he had. Everyone he hangs with he would make them feel they were just as capable of doing the kind of art he would do. When we both stopped painting trains, PHASE 2 was doing the flyers for parties and encouraged me to start doing the same. I remember  when one of the dudes from the Black door production who hired PHASE regularly. Thought it would be a lot cheaper dealing with me. Back then PHASE was charging a pretty penny for his art. I started doing work for them, charging them about 100 dollars less, which for the late 70ís was good






 money. The way I did most of the flyers for my clients were much different then PHASE and many others. I use to use boarders with designs on the corners. Sometimes these flyers would take three to five hours to do, later I gained some strong contacts in the Hip-Hop game and became a promoter for shows, which had cats like Melle Mel, Grand Master Flash, D.J. Hollywood, Kool Herc, Grand Master Flash, The Cold Crush Brothers, Grand Wizard Theodore, D.J. Disco King Mario, Break Out, D.J. Ajay, Busy Bee and D.J. Ronny Green. Back in the early years of Hip-Hop the D.J. was the star of the party and brought along an MC with a catchy rhyme to introduce the D.J. then slowly the people started paying to see the MC which is how it is now. In beginning of Hip-Hop the audience came out to only see Kool Herc (The God Father of Hip-Hop) and his hercaloids.

I would like to thank Subway Outlaws giving me the opportunity to tell my story . I'd like to give shout out to KOOL BREEZE, RAY-B 954, COOL CLIFF 120, CENTURY 120, JEE 126, JOE 182, HILT 505, HULK 62, TRACY 168, PHASE 2, LIONEL 168 ( a/k/a RIP 1 ), JACE 2, STAFF 161, SUPER SLICK 156, DOCTOR "B", AJ 161 ( a/k/a - ALL JIVE 161 ), SPIN 1, DICE 198 ( a/k/a SIR ), CHRIS 170 (RIP ), BONANZA, HRJ 2, SUPER STRUT, COCAINE 1, DIABLO , CLIFF 159 ( RIP ), MOSES 147, KOOL KEVIN, SEX 143, COOL JEFF, KING KOOL 156, DYNAMITE 161 ( a/k/a - DR SOUL ) , COKE 1-225, KING KOOL 143,

 ULTRA KOOL, CHARMIN 65 ( RIP ), HORNET 1, TAKE 5, LIL ROCK 1&2, JIVE 3, BLADE 1, COMET, POISON 106, FDT 56, CLYDE, PAGE 505, SKI 168,  NUN 1, SUNDANCE, NIGGER CHARLIE 1-170, RIFF 170, STICK 1 ( RIP ), PIPER 1, STAY HIGH 149 my wife and my son...Last but not least my MOM's who has been their though the good and bad. Peace to all those that have kept this art alive to this day, keep on keeping on. This page is dedicated  to my late brother AFRO 2, may you rest in peace and you will be forever in our hearts.

 * Should you like to Buy art work my LAVA a./k/a STRAIGHT MAN or contact him. Click here





We would like to thank LAVA / STRAIGHT MAN for sharing a little of his history with us. Photo credits go to LAVA, BLADE, TRACY 168, RUB 5, KOOL KITO and  the team at Subway Should any one have photos of LAVA's work or need to contact LAVA please contact us at MESSAGE@SUBWAYOUTLAWS.COM