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Original Master Artist


Started : Early 1970's

Area : The Bronx New York

Main Lines : 1's, 2's, 5's, 6's, 3's, 4's,




I'd first like to say that we did not call our self's Graffiti writers. That was a term pinned on us from the establishment. We were writers, which is simply what we did. - RIFF 170

 I started writing in the Bronx in the early 1970’s.  The way I came up with the name RIFF  was very simple; most writers picked either their nickname or a name that was given to them.  I on the other hand, would read often and always carried a comic book with me wherever I went.  I chose a name that fit me RIF after a commercial (“reading is fundamental ”), which was very popular in the 70’s.  I added an additional “F” besides it to which stood for fantastic. 




CHRIS 170 and BONANZA are the two that introduced me to writing and what writing was all about.  I lived on Plimpton Street and they lived three blocks over on Shakespeare, so they would always come around my block with guys like HULK 62 and CLYDE.  They occasionally passed through my neighborhood to hit the bus lay-ups that held the #36 bus (which drove though my area).  That bus lay-up was a big place!  CLYDE would do script, top-to-bottoms on those buses.  I went with him a few times and would just look at him like he was crazy. CHRIS 170 and BONANZA are the two cats that showed me how to boost paint, as well as the great places to go paint.  I recall this one day when they broke into this hardware store right around my neighborhood and tossed down boxes full of spray paint off the roof. They showed up at Plimpton Park, where I was playing ball with boxes full of paint and then we all went  bombed the whole park.  HRJ2 was the cat who first introduced me to the train yards and lay-up's (and all that went along with it during the tagging (signature) era).  All HRJ

did was signatures; he never did pieces and quit writing before the piecing got popular, but the dude name was every where then.  BONANZA and CHRIS however, did stick around and did do pieces. The first wave of writers during the signature era in the Bronx started there writing on the streets and then over to the Subway cars. The first Bronx Subway king was LEE 163 and an inspiration to most early Bronx Subway writers at the time. His name was stylized as well as readable and seen directly on the



front of many Subway cars. He was the first Bronx Subway king, there were no other kings before him. Others big names during the first wave of Bronx Subway writers were PHASE 2, SLY 2, SWEET DUKE 161, EL MARKO 174, HULK 62, BUG 170, CHRIS 170, BONANZA, PINTO 168, MEAN GENE-OP, MR BUBBLE 174, KOOL KEVIN 1, SUPER KOOL 223 ( Originally known as SWEET YOKES ), HRJ 2, RAY-B 954,  JOHNNY 800, M&M 171, KOOL HERC, TABU 1, LARRY 936, DYNAMITE 161, HOLLYWOOD 1-PB, KOOL RAY EXP",  FAST EDDIE, LIONEL 168 / RIP 1 ( First real king of the 4's ), MR T, AMRL / BAMA, MR TIBS 171, JAMBU 2, PEARL 149, CAT 2233, NIGGER CHARLIE 1-170, MOE-TR, TURBAN 1, STATIC 1, COOL JEFF, THE CRUSHER 1& 2, KITU, FJC 4, RLM 2, LIL FLAME, DR SEX 1, CLYDE, FDT 56, ULTRA KOOL, CREEPER 167, STAY HIGH 149, FRESCO, DEADLEG 167,  LIL HAWK 149, THE MAN 550, K 55, HONDO 1, VOE 61, LIBRA 5, PRIEST 167, SANTOS 108, CHRIST 167, MAD MARK 1, IRON MIKE, STAFF 161, SUPER SLICK 156, KOOL-T 163, LIL CROSS, JINX 2, PJ 109, HS 575 ( HOT SOUSE 575 ), BST 90F, BIG "O" 116, SWEET CRUZ, CHARMIN 65, SKI 168, NEAL 182, JIVE 3, KING KOOL 143, PURPLE HAZE 168,  BIG BIRD 107,  S-PAT 169, TRACY 168, PRO-SOUL 165, RC 162, CHARLIE 158, TURK 62, CLIFF 159, COKE

1-225, STRAIGHT MAN / LAVA 1 & 2, AJ 161 and STICK 1  just to name a few. Some of the writers mentioned quit writing once piecing became popular. Many of the  writers from my era were like a close nit family, Most guys knew each other and there was none of this conflict you see now days with writers crossing each out.




 When I first started writing, I took a trip to my aunt’s house to see my cousin and discovered my cousin was writing as well.  He was writing CREEPER 167; who at the time was STAY HIGH 149’s original writing partner.  The two guys were everywhere!  When I asked CREEPER and STAY HIGH if I could write with them, STAY HIGH 149 called me a toy.  That pissed me off! This happened before I met PHASE 2 and before I made a name for my self-bombing the insides.  That insult made me more determined to become a better writer than STAY HIGH 149 ever was. Back then, you had to become known so I started killing the insides of





the I. R. T’s. Shortly after, I was introduced to PHASE 2, who knew who I was and he liked my hand writing style. He told me “Yo, you got a lot of talent. I like the way you catch all the poster spots on the insides.” When I use to hit the insides of the trains back then I liked taking down the advertisement posters, hit up my name and then place the advertisement back up after I was done. The insides of the trains got cleaned often.  If the advertisements came down while the train was still in service, you would see a fresh RIFF tag in that clean car. That is how other writers recognized me. That was something I learned from BONANZA, he told me you had to have a unique spot where it would catch people’s attention when people see your name.  Many times, I would ride the trains then tear down the advertisements to find a tag of mine, and then I would draw on the back of the poster. I will never forget the day HRJ, CHRIS and BONANZA brought me to the famous coffee shop on Meshula Parkway across the street from Dewitt Clinton High School. This was the original meeting spot for writers back in the early 1970’s. That night the EX-VANDALS, happened to be starting a chapter in the Bronx, and made PHASE president of that chapter.  The list of dudes that were there were; PHASE 2, LIONEL 168 / RIP 1 (who was a big cat back then and had a reputation for knocking out 5-0’s), DINO NOD , WICKED GARY, LA-ZAR and a few other cats were there; that I can not remember at this time.  They were recruiting new members from the Bronx into the group that night, PHASE introduced me to the fellows, and they were like “RIFF? ....RIFF who”? These people started calling me a toy. I was getting up with BONANZA, CHRIS 170 and HRJ 2, but still they would not give a brother any leeway. Nevertheless, it did not kill me it just made me stronger. I guess that is what also later fueled my desire to get up there and show them. PHASE 2 spoke up for me and said; this guy got a lot of talent and is tearing up the insides. They reluctantly put me in, which turned out to be the best move they ever made!





I started hanging out with RAY-B 954 after I met PHASE.  By 1972, I was getting up and already made a name for myself; and was getting respect from so many other writers.  RAY-B was one of the top dogs in the early70’s, and many writers admired him.  He was the first cat who showed me how to boost paint, and my man was good when it came down to walking out with 10 to 15 cans at a time.  RAY-B told me not only can you boost paint, but you can also rack up clothes.  One day he took me to Macy’s in Herald Square to boost some clothing.  As we were walking out the door a few of the security guards grabbed RAY-B and he punched one of them in the face then struggled towards the door, broke loose and went off running with a whole crew of guards chasing us towards Madison Square Garden.  We both decided to split up and when we did most of them cats chose to take off after RAY-B.  I ducked into a bar nearby, cleaned up and headed home.  I ran into RAY-B next day and we both laughed about it, Shit was crazy.




 The first piece I ever did was an achievement in itself just because I actually put it up.  I learned that things would get better as time went on.  Writing was definitely a fun thing.  You would see your work running and have other people looking at it, stepping back and admiring it.  That is what pushed me to keep on painting.  I knew it would get better with each piece I did.  When I was at home, I would stare at the letterings on the cereal boxes to get different ideas.  It gave me some inspiration on how to start a lettering style.  Back in the early 70’s living around 107th street was nice.  There were many Jewish people living out there and things were very quiet; similar to what New Jersey is today. We played basketball and Ring-A-Leaveo in the P.S.104 schoolyard. P.S. 104 was like my black book. When I had extra paint from painting the trains, I finished the paint on the walls of PS 104, where I did some of my hottest pieces.  When I went there I would do a piece or two.  We had a lot of writers that lived nearby, KOOL HERC, EL MARCO 174, MEAN GENE-OP, 2 TONE 174, DR FROST, RCA 174, MR. BUBBLE 174, APOLLO 5 (A-5), ULTRA KOOL 2-175 and PINTO 168; however I was the main attraction because I was more of the stylist.  I was the one that would do different things and stand out the most.  I put my best foot forward and always did my best!  For example, word got around that I had a lot of talent and imagination and that one didn’t really want to step on my toes and challenge me on the trains.  Later I heard many people in the 1980’s, entered the yards, or lay-up’s with a sketch in hand when starting their piece.  I found that a little bizarre because in the 70’s none of us ever followed a sketch when piecing the subways.  Every piece I did came straight from the skull (off the top of my head).  PHASE used to tell me, “You are just way ahead of your time.  When you sit down to draw, I watch you; you never do any of your outlines the same.”  PHASE always encouraged me to take my art one-step





further. There was a writer killing the 2’s and 5’s by the name of CHARMIN 65 was hitting the trains with SUPER KOOL who was the king of the 2 and 5's.  I was so inspired and impressed on how he was getting up. In the early wave of piecing he did some nice letters. Shortly I met CHARMIN through RAY-B 954 and found out CHARMIN 65 was a girl. It was surprising to see that she rocked just as much as SUPER KOOL was up on the trains just as much as some males. She was up more than many of the male writers back then.  BARBARA 62 and EVA 62 were up often back then.  Another girl who wrote with them was MICHELE 62. 






Out of all the female writers CHARMIN 65 stood out the most because she had pieces on the trains. Recently I heard boasting of this female writer from the 80’s who is claiming in books and magazines that she was the only female writer in history to put in so much work on the subways. That’s plain ignorance and a farce!  How can you comment on something that you were not around to see, BARBARA & EVA not only killed the subways but killed the streets, parts of upstate New York and parts of New Jersey. Charmin 65 was the first Queen on the trains she had so many pieces that stood out on the trains and they were very clean looking in the early stage of piecing. There were also other girls that killed it, like BIG BIRD 107 and S-PAT 169, BARMAID 36, POONIE 1-167, Z-73, IRENE 159, LINE 149, TASH 2, T.T. SMOKE 182, EVA 62, BARBARA 62, MICHELLE 62 and STONEY, GRAPE 1-897, CLICK 1, SHAWON 1, from Brooklyn on the B. M. T’s ( I can go on and on ). I feel that everyone should respect the original ladies of the movement!







Once piecing became popular many writers from the tagging generation started to quit, and many up and coming artists began to take their place.  My approach was always to try new things and be very original while doing them.  Many of my early pieces that rolled through the writer’s bench started to impress many writers that hung out there.  As a result, many of them wanted to know who was doing the pieces.  With each piece I did word got around that this guy RIFF is really nice with the letters and that he was doing those pieces.  I kept painting the trains consistently while pushing the envelope on each production that I did.  There was a piece I did that was really hot for its time which was a Riff I did, where I used the profile of a face to complete the rest of my letters.  That was a first of its kind.  I also used that Saint stick figure character that STAY HIGH made very poplar in my letters, which many writers felt the way I used it looked better than STAY HIGH’S. The TIGER stripe piece was the first top-to bottom piece I



did. That got much attention.  It’s funny because I was only using scraps (half-empty cans of paint) while I painting when the idea came off the top of my head.  The next day when the train pulled into the station at 149th street, everyone was talking about it.  I started to get so good that I started to teach many of my peer’s different styles.  PEL was one of them, but once he got good, felt he had gotten so good, that he could burn me.  That is another story I will get into later.  It made it more effective, to change my style and to come up with something better for those who tried to challenge me.  If someone tried to use my style, I would change it and have a new style ready for them to attempt to copy. In actuality, nobody could really compete next to me. If someone did something and thought they could compete with me, I would change and rethink my style.  My mother always told me, never show everybody, everything.  When teaching other cats techniques, you could give a little, but don’t give  everything. Therefore, when I used to do pieces on the trains, they would only be a taste of what I was capable of. For ex: I did a WORM piece with polka dots and unique designs on 171st and Jerome Avenue. Around the corner from that piece was a TRACY 168 piece

 where he drew snoopy, laying on his doghouse. Next to the TRACY 168 piece was a ZEST and P-NUT piece, however my piece stood out from all of them because I used fluorescent paint (which I only used as a test, to see how it would look).  The polka dots that I used in the worm piece were the first use of polka dots in a piece. And again, I had no sketch to follow. The whole thing came from the skull (off the top of my head).





In 1974, I did a DOVE whole-car in which I used a worm character.  This stirred up much controversy in the writing world.  I do not want to put down BAMA because he was a very talented artist, in terms of his characters and some of his drawings, which were very creative. However, BAMA claimed that I stole the idea from him.  He was the first one to paint a worm character, but not on a train, only on paper.  The worm character I used was completely different in style and it was the way I liked it.  Nobody brought the worm character to the trains prior to the DOVE piece; whereas BAMA was just keeping it on paper and went nowhere with it.  BAMA was not popular in the piecing era; he was famous for getting up with single hits (tags).  Once we all started piecing, BAMA pretty much kept his drawings at U. G. A., and other workshops that he was involved with.  Many of the pieces that I did were done on my own; however there were times I’d go with PHASE or be invited by other writers.  I remember doing a CRUNCH piece in the 3 yard where it looked like the letters were CRUNCHED together, and the colors made the piece look like it was jumping off the train. That one car was the best masterpiece to be seen on that line during that time.






Many writers think that I didn’t do many pieces which, is bull.  I did over 500 pieces in a span of 2 years, perhaps even more then that. under so many different names. None of them looked like throw-ups (also known as “misty pieces” which they were called back then).  BLADE and COMET were famous for those types of pieces.  I did pieces under so many different names on so many subway lines before the idea became popular.  I had names like WORM 161, PAD, DOVE 2, CRUNCH, MR. 6, BAD 2 or 2 BAD, CONAN, AS 2, BOY 170, CASH 2, REAL, PEAL, FLIP, MR. DIRT plus so many others that I prefer to keep to myself.  I choose the name DOVE 2 from looking at a package of soap “DOVE” (and wondered what I could do with that).  I thought the name fit me, because it was pure, kind of like me since I didn’t fool around with drugs or alcohol.  Like many of the names I chose, that was another name I took to the next level.  




When I went out to Brooklyn I get my art out there on the BMT’s.  Atlantic Avenue was the writer’s bench out in Brooklyn back then. I recall my first visit there with PHASE and LIONEL.  It was funny because PHASE was tall and LIONEL was tall (and built like a football player). Once the two introduced me to those guys out there they were like “that’s RIFF”? It was funny because I was this short dude among these two giants. Those Brooklyn cats were a little wild. MR AL and MR DUCK had this group called B. G. A., and these cats used to dress real sharp. They used to wear the Stingy Brim Hats, which were very popular at the time, as well as very expensive. I wondered how they use to get their hands on those hats, until one day I watched as a train rolled in to the station and saw one of the fellows at work. Just as the doors of the subway car closed he reached in and grabbed one of those hats off the head of some old Jewish man.  That was wild!





I used to hang out in Brooklyn often and got along with many of the Brothers out there, MR. AL, MR. DUCK, NAIL 170, TEE, STIM, LAMA, DIABLO & DASH.  Back then they were all my peoples back, especially LAMA.  He was my boy!  I remember him having my back one day when I had trouble out there.   There was this one incident when I was serving some chumps on the basketball court and while I was scoring, I was boosting each time.  One of these dudes got mad and tried to put his hands on me, so I threw him against the fence and held him by his neck.  Just then the rest of his boys decided to rush towards me and the next thing I heard was “That’s my man!”  I looked over and it was LAMA holding up a pistol screaming “That’s my man RIFF!” He arrived in perfect timing.  Back in those days, LAMA had a repetition in that end of Brooklyn so those dudes just backed off.  I not only painted in the Bronx, but I also painted in some of the yards and lay-ups out in Brooklyn.  I remember pulling off a few nice pieces on the BMT’s.  One car I did was on one of those old freshly painted green trains, which the colors I used made the piece look like it was jumping off the car.  Another one of my favorites was when I was with LAMA and I did both pieces (which is some thing I’d usually do for my home boys).  I especially liked the LAMA piece because the way I used the L followed into the A, the M, and then the A. Should any one out there have a photo of it I'd love to have it.




PHASE and I, plus a few others were the only artists to bring new styles into the forefront.  Though there were many writers in the 1970’s, many came from so many different back grounds. The early generation of writers, were African American and Latinos; which is a fact! When it came to aerosol letters, brothers were the first to create styles. Don’t get me wrong there were some Latinos who were nice with their styles and techniques like FLINT 707 and CHECKER 170. However, the





 majority of writers piecing then were Black.  Later when I was away from New York for a number of years a friend told me about a book that was written about the aerosol art form, which I helped to create. There was a story told in there by a writer name STAN 153 regarding a battle of styles he claimed we both had on the subways in the 1970’s. Reading this really got me upset.  For one it was not true.  STAN did not have enough pieces on the trains to battle anyone!  When STAN



 was painting his work was no competition next to mine. The photographer Jack Steward wrote a small paper back book in the 80's about our art form which contained some black and white photos. In his book he spoke negatively about me calling me a bitter! I was no bitter! My art work came from my soul and copied no others, as I wrote above regarding Bama's worm character. He only drew it on paper and kept it hidden. My version of the worm looked very different. Other then that instance there was nothing out there worth looking at. Phase was the man back then and it was him and I introducing so much new and innovating work at such a short amount of time. Jack's opinions of my work are completely wrong and he can not be viewed as an authority on the art foam I helped to mold. Phase was even taken back on what was written in that book. Jack's book has so many contradictions as well as errors on dates of the photos and in no way is an accurate history on the early writing culture in New York city. I can recall times hanging  out at the bench and just then one of my freshly done cars would pull into the

station and another writer’s piece would be right beside mine; you would hear the crowd call out “Oh shit! RIFF you burned that dude”. I had so many pieces running under other names, that some of the dudes that hung out there didn’t even know of the other names.  For example when a CONAN piece would roll into the station those dudes would say “Yo, RIFF….. We got someone for ya; this dude





CONAN could burn you”. PHASE would look over to me and laugh and say check out these clowns.  When I got to the 6 line, I started doing these MR-6 pieces that gained much attention because before I got to that line, no one was doing the kind of work I was doing. Many dudes wanted to know who MR.6 was, but only real people knew the deal. PHASE and I were burning that line when I did this one MR.6 on a car, which was one of  the most creative pieces I did under that name. I wish I caught a photo of it! My favorite train that I did on the number 6 was a top to bottom whole car MR.6 with a character on the side shooting bullets though the piece, now that piece was hot and never got a picture of it. Till this day BUTCH 2 would reminisce about seeing that top to bottoms rolling though the station.





Now at times, I bump into BUTCH 2, at Hugo Martinez’s galleries.  Whenever he would be interviewed by people in the gallery in front of me, he would tell them that I was the one who inspired him to keep painting.  He would tell them all the stuff that I did on the 6 line; like my PEAL’s, REAL’s, WORM's, PAD's, CRUNCHES and MR.6s.  However he didn’t know it was me who painted all those pieces.  Some people think it took years for guys like me and PHASE 2 to develop.  We were coming up with stuff quickly and our art was developing at a fast pace.  It wasn’t like another two years before we advanced, it was more like every month or week that we were doing something new.  We started using slices and whips in a lot of the letters to separate them.  Many writers were impressed by that technique.  One thing I never did was to try to battle PHASE in style. He took me many places and I had the deepest respect for him.






PHASE introduced me to this workshop called U. G. A. He promised the curator Hugo Martinez to bring the best artists throughout the city down to get involved with him. I will never concede myself a member.  I mainly hung out there now and then to paint, that was about it. I was never too happy on how this work shop was being run, but the curator at times would get us jobs painting, so I went along for fun. The best job we were ever given was when we did the painting for “The Joffrey Ballet”. Many of the U. G. A. artists and I did the backdrop while the ballet was in progress. This was something that was never done before and after the show, the audience not only gave the dancers a standing ovation, but the artists as well.  The show was written in the New York Times and got great reviews. This brought our art form into a positive light.  I felt we were moving in a positive direction but soon I became disappointed on some of the politics that was happening within this group.





  As a result, we decided to go separate ways. PHASE did the same shortly after the Joffrey Ballet was finished.With our left-over paint, we all decided to go to the 3 yard   in  in Manhattan. We brought along Jack Stewart, who was the photographer who documented our art (in those days, before Henry Chelfont). He went inside with us and photographed the cars that we were doing. That night I did one of my CONAN’s, with the FABULOUS FIVE emblem, (which was a backwards 5 and I wrote IND’s below it.) It stood for FABULOUS FIVE INDEPENDENTS, because there were five of us; me, PHASE 2, STAY HIGH 149, LIONEL 168 and DICE 198 we dubbed ourselves as the “FABULOUS FIVE”. That was way before Lee Quinones and all of them, dubbed themselves as the “Fabulous five”.We already had the name and were hitting the trains with it.  I even have a photograph of a CONAN piece that I did in the 3 yard with PHASE 2, that night in 1973. PHASE always had innovative idea's,





so when we painted with him, he always shared his ideas with us. When I hear people try to criticize PHASE on being too militant or other things I hear floating around out there, it really upsets me. PHASE is the father of the Bronx Aerosol movement, as well as the movement all over the world. He taught me early-on and introduced so many ideas and techniques to this art form which many other writers could have never even imagined thinking of. PHASE founded the writer’s bench on 149th street which was originally his own personal place to watch trains until other writers started spotting him there.Well…you know the rest! Another thing everybody must understand is racism. It was still around when we were writing. Writing helped unify us; we as young black men dealt with racism daily. We were only five years removed from the civil rights bill and progress, for us and for all other brothers around the country at the time was moving slowly. I remember an incident when I witnessed a little white kid-getting beat up on a train station.  When I ran over to help him a bunch of white men ran over and targeted me.  Young kids cannot imagine how much harder it was growing up as a black male in America back then. When PHASE speaks about these things, no matter how unpopular it may be with some, he is telling how it truly was.







PEL was getting real good with the alias DIME 2 and I was doing DOVE 2’s when he felt he could battle me on the subways. PEL was my man who I was handing outlines, but I guess he felt he was ready to go toe to toe with me. There was a dude from U. G. A. who used to brag on how good he was. He even thought he was better then me, but he only had one outline. I did a few pieces using his outlines but flipped it and toasted this dude’s work.  PEL and I did a few pieces together but each time he came up short while painting next to me.  I did one piece where I used a character of a car at the end of my piece, which alone just blew his piece away! There were many other writers that tried to challenge me.  Some said they could burn me, but each time they tried to go one on one with me, I would melt them off the train.  Most of these computations were done  done out of friendship and respect for one another. We never tried to fight over things like this, nor did we cross out each others pieces, which was something that became poplar



popalur in the 80’s. The writers from my era were like a family.  I used to go to all parts of New York City and writers everywhere got along.  I even stayed over other writers houses and had dinner with there families.  They were people of all different backgrounds.  I even hung with VAMM and CRACHEE in their all white neighborhood and always felt welcome.  However there was this one incident I recall when I felt otherwise. I was exiting a store in their neighborhood and as I looked straight ahead saw a crowded car pull right in front of me. The car was filled with a bunch of white teenagers with bats screaming the “N” word.  Just as they were getting out of the car VAMM and his boys saw this  them and yelled out to those guys in the car from the park across the street. It seemed like VAMM was friends with everyone in the park because they all picked up sticks, and headed towards the car scaring all of them away.  That is something I’ll never forget!  I returned the favor, when a friend of VAMM’s ran into some trouble in my part of town. I was riding the train and bumped into FRED 165, KINDO and a few other writers whose names I cannot remember at this time. The train pulled into the next station where this writer from

 VAMM’s neighborhood just got on board. I said what up to the guy and when I looked over to the direction of FRED and the boys, they were heated.  I did not know this writer who boarded the train back grounded (went over) one of FRED’s pieces.  The next thing I know, I saw FRED swinging from the straphanger with his gat in the air and started stomping this dude.  FRED’s boys were ready to join in.  I went between them before it got out of hand. I talked FRED and his boys out of stomping the dude.  It was amazing that they stopped, because these people were out for blood and did not care who got in the way.





I painted with so many writers throughout the early years and many of them were just as passionate as I was on feathering the art form we helped to create.  There were many times I helped the man next to me if he was less skilled, artistically. I did many pieces with TRACY 168 and always held back. I never tried to show him up.  I did a few AS 2’s and 2 BAD cars with TRACY that was pretty ahead of the times. TRACY took me over to the yard where we had to walk through the old Worlds Fair, which lead to the 7 train yard, where we painted these turquoise colored number 7 trains. S.PAT 169 and BIG BIRD 107 were there.  I helped them with their pieces while I did a PEAL piece which looked like it was pealing off the panel of the train. That had to be one of my best pieces and I never got a photo of it.  What a damn shame!  That was the best car to run on that small line. TRACY had told me many guys in Queens could not stop talking about that train.  Some of those guys became inspired to improve their painting skills.  I did a few cars on that line with TRACY along with a few others.  It seemed like everywhere TRACY took me the guy knew someone from that area we were at.  If anyone can make the claim he’s been writing since 1969, it would be TRACY.   I used to see his tags on the rocks in some of the parks that go back to 1969 or 1970, way before I was writing. I heard many claims by writers saying they were writing in 1969 or 1970, but I never even saw them up, heard of them or even met them.  Like I mentioned before in the early years we were all like a family.  If you were painting in the Bronx I would have met you or known you. Some of these phony claims get me upset as well as many of the real cats that were truly around then.  I even heard dudes that were just little kids following us around now claiming to have been top dogs on the subways in my day.  In reality those same dudes only got there names around much later in the 1970’s.  Most these phonies like kicking this info around so that they could make a buck on the art.  Especially the dudes that were painting in the 80’s who are now talking themselves back to 1973.  You know who you are!  Please…I would have known you.  I‘m about keeping the history real and will tell it like it truly was.  I’ll be telling the truth ‘til my dying day.





I’ve known writers from all parts of the city and especially from all over the Bronx.  I even helped those that wanted to improve their letters. BILLY 167 was such a writer for a white Jewish kid.  He had amazing talent.  He would invite me to his home to sketch and I’d hand him a few out lines which he would improve quickly.  The guy did some great pieces in his day.  I know this is something that TRACY would not like to hear, but BILLY was the best white aerosol artist in my opinion.  BILLY was not a fighter and would get picked on by many other writers in his area.  Years later when BILLY passed away a group of writers boosted his photo collection from his parent’s house leaving many of his best unseen art work lost forever.  NOC 167 was another writer who became a very big artist, years later.  He had much potential but never really truly utilized most of it.  I first met NOC in 1975 or 1976, while I was painting a wall around my area (along with PEL).   At the time he was a little shorty from the neighborhood who just took an interest in what PEL and I were doing (that day).  Years later once I stopped writing, NOC would spent much time at my house sketching outlines in books.  I did sketches which I wasn’t very happy with and ended up throwing them away. NOC167, who I was teaching at the time, would take them and use some of the letters I showed him.  As a result, he started making them very popular, like a few BOY 5 pieces that he did.  He later started heading over to Brooklyn and showed DONDI many of the stuff I taught him. One such piece was a ROLL which he used an elongated “L” which looked rather extravagant.  They were L’s I already used in 1975 in a few of my PEAL whole cars.





The Bronx is the borough where writers originated styles of letters. Then guys from Manhattan came along, like PESO 131 and PADRE 2, who had very unique styles. They were inspired by much of our work that we were doing years before in the Bronx. Many of my cars even inspired dudes like BUTCH 2, who got really good and later brought CASE 2 in the game showing him style. Years later CASE 2 declared himself king of style and referred to his style of painting as the computer rock”.



   However, he didn’t demonstrate anything during the years when we were burning up the trains.  When I was out there, he was just a new writer learning his craft.  In the 1970’s, CASE 2 was not burning me, nor was he burning PHASE 2.  So his declaration to being king of style, in our days was not happening!  In the Bronx, the real style masters were me and PHASE 2. Everyone else, well, just followed our lead.  The RIFF top-to-bottom with the bars connecting to my “r”, I did this one night when I saw CASE 2 sitting on the station.  I walked by him and went straight to the lay-up.  When CASE 2 asked me what I was doing, I told him I was going to do a whole car top-to-bottom. He asked if he could join me and I said no, because I wanted to do it by myself.  The piece was sort of unique for the time as I used the bar connecting the “r” with drips coming down.  When I sat at the writer’s bench the next day, the train came into the station and all these other writers were amazed.  Many of the writers thought it said

RUFF, because  I used a big drip going down the middle of my “l” (which leads them to believe it was a “U” instead of an “I”).  That day, CASE 2 happened to be there and told everyone that it said RIFF.






The SOLID-BOT-DON-RIFF train was a dedication painting to a fallen brother of the art, SOLID 1.  SOLID 1 had passed away from a tragic subway accident.  He was holding on to a moving car when he lost his grip and fell to his death.  This was a tremendous blow to the Graffiti community.  PHASE was especially upset.  PHASE ‘til this day, has the newspaper clipping which shows a photo of PHASE holding SOLID on the tracks.  The idea for the memorial car was





thought up by his brother BOT 707. I was playing basketball in a park near my house, when I was approached by DON101 and BOT 707 holding two shopping bags full pf paint. They told me they had been looking for me and asked if I’d like to come with them to do a whole car. At the time, I was no longer writing and was concentrating on other things in my life. I told the two that I didn’t write anymore. It wasn’t until they begun to tell me that they wanted to do a memorial car for SOLID 1 that I quickly changed my mind.  BOT put down one of the shopping bags on the floor, which had an old T-shirt on top. He lifted the shirt to the side to show me what colors he brought along and once I saw that, I knew at the moment “it was on”.We all went to the lay-ups that night.  I started by doing a quick RIFF piece on a separate car while BOT and DON begun to struggle on their pieces on an opposite car from mine. BOT asked if I could help them out with the outlines for the memorial car.  He wanted the piece to be something special. It started with me touching up on their work until shortly after I moved the two to the side and began redoing the whole piece. I was doing everything off







the top of my head, which impressed the two. Once I finished that whole train, I did not get a chance to see it until years later when I saw it in photos. I did run into BOT a few weeks later and he told me that piece was getting a lot of attention from many writers in the city. At the time I didn’t pay it much mind. I’m glad to hear from other old writers that they enjoyed seeing that car. Some have told me it was one of the best cars I ever did.





I officially stopped writing in early 1976.  A few years after I stopped writing I moved away from New York and didn’t look back.  It wasn’t until years later, when I was tracked down by Hugo Martinez who invited me to do a painting at his gallery that I came back to New York. I’m proud to find out that this art, I helped to create is an international movement.  I would like to give a shout out to my man TRUE  a/k/a PHASE 2, who showed me so much in this game I’d also would like to give a shout to LIONEL 168 a/k/a RIP 1, RAY-B 954 also known as ME 163 and the original FLIP 1, HRJ 2, CLYDE, FDT 56, LAVA 1 & 2, TRACY 168, REE 2, LIL SOUL 159, LAMA, BIG BIRD107, S=PAT 169, CHAIN 3, VULCAN, NOC 167, BOM 5 and GIL.





We would like to thank LIL SOUL 159 and REE 2 for making this page possible, as well as Blade 1 for all his support though out the years . Photo credits go to TRACY 168, BLADE 1, LAVA 1 & 2, RIFF 170, MATTHYS, WICKED GARY,  www.@149th and the team at Subway  Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Copyright © Subway 2003. Should any one have photos of RIFF 170's  work, Please contact us at MESSAGE@SUBWAYOUTLAWS.COM