Chip7: Creating MAYHEM and Carnage
17 years of history and graffiti insight.
New York City graffiti zine Carnage linked up with the legendary MAYHEM Crew (Chip7, Nace, Kemos, Mize, Sace, Met, Nesm, Merz, Newa, Anger, Bleek, Pose, Nekst, Vizie, Dalek, Zephyr, Cense, Navy8, Eye, Deja, Wyze, Gable, Aest2, Hunt, Dicko and False) for its upcoming Issue 7. The special release goes down this Friday, April 25 at Scumbags & Superstars in conjunction with the opening of Chip7‘s new stateside showing. We had the opportunity to sit down with the writer to talk about his outlook and the history of his crew that’s going on 17+ years now.
Mass Appeal: How did you first get into graffiti?
Chip7: My brother went to a detention center and started writing a little bit and when he came back I was like, “Oh, I want to start doing this too!” We started writing around our apartment complex and there were friends who wrote their nicknames. Mine was “Chip” because I had chipped my tooth during basketball. And then I added “7” because I thought it was a lucky number. I started painting on walls in late ’94. Then in ’95 I started doing pieces.
MA: What can you tell us about the MAYHEM Crew and its philosophy?
C: I started it with my friend Kemos as an acronym that meant Men Attacking Yards Hitting Everything Metal. We had other names for it too like, Misunderstood Artists You Hate Even More. Then I went on a trip to Maine [’97-’98] with my buddy Mize and we decided to really start pushing it. He was friends with Sace and I had my friends in Jersey and it just went from there. Then Nace became part of it. Our philosophy was for all of us to have individual styles. We didn’t want to copy other people and we wanted our styles to be a reflection of our personalities. It was also about doing a wide range of graffiti, not just one type.
We would get a lot of ideas about our writing from Nace because he wasn’t just one type of writer, he would do trains, freights, pieces and more. It’s definitely about doing different things and the individualism.
MA: How did MAYHEM Crew link up with Carnage?
C: I’m also in Dethkult and Carnage did a signature series with all of the members. It stemmed from that. Originally it was just going to be me and Kemos, but then we decided to include everything and the whole 17-year history of stuff that we have, like pictures that people have never seen before. We thought it’d be cooler like that.
MA: What was the photo selection process like? Was it all stuff that you had saved?
C: I was really bad at documenting my work. Then I also had a period when I moved like 10 times in 10 years. So every time I moved I lost stuff. And there were also pictures we lost because we had sent them to magazines or places and never got them back. So I had a few pictures, but a lot of them are from just from everyone. We put out the call to different people. Carnage actually found and contributed some photos too!
MA: MAYHEM is such a large crew, who do you go out with and who’s work are you seeing around?
C: I’ve been living in Bangkok for almost four years, so I’m the only one pushing MAYHEM over there. Out here it’s great to see guys like False. He’s like the youngest member of the crew. It’s really nice to see him doing his thing. We’ve watched him evolve over the years and it’s the same kind of process that I remember seeing in others. It’s just good to see the younger people pushing it maybe even harder than some of the older people were doing. A lot of us still roll together whenever we get the chance to hang out or even have time.
MA: How did the upcoming show and Scumbags & Superstars come together?
C: We follow each other on Instagram and I had really liked what they were doing and the type of products that they sell. It’s similar to some of my work in terms of the horror and a lot of ’80s themes. Those childhood images made a permanent impression in my head. The artwork and colors from toy packages like “G.I. Joe” and “Masters of the Universe” really struck a chord with me.
My work for this show is comprised of different things that I’ve done while living in Bangkok for the last three and a half years. All the work in this show I made over there. I haven’t had a show tin the states this big in a long time.
Scumbags & Superstars hit me up about contributing to an upcoming zine and I had sent them some drawings. But then I was coming out here so we decided to do a show together. And the timing worked out so that we could also include the release of the Carnage zine. It was perfect, we could do both things in one event.
MA: We notice that, like many writers and artists (older and younger), you use digital and social media platforms like Instagram to promote your work. But then there’s also a whole generation that’s never known a scene without the Internet. Can you speak on those two demographics?
C: I think it’s interesting because I remember a time when writers didn’t even like magazines. And there was a period of time when we didn’t like when people posted their own work on sites like 12ozProphet because we thought outside photographers should be doing that if you were a “writer” really out doing your thing. But all that’s come and gone.
If the Internet’s there and so is the history then as a young writer you should look that up. The problem really is the “toy” mentality. If you don’t care about the history, you just go over stuff, and if you don’t give a damn about anything except yourself, that, to me, is a toy. With the Internet you also have a lot of people with an identity crisis. They might as well have on the Michael Jackson red jacket, a Jheri curl wig, and a shiny glove – they’re just like impersonators.
I think it’s good and bad. I use social media to keep in contact with friends and keep up with what they’re up to and what they’re putting out. Nowadays it’s a rarity that writers don’t use it! And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it because I follow other artists and small businesses and shops that are of interest to me. If you’re just on there buying everything you want and copying everything, it’s kind of like the “graffiti starter kit.” But there’s also all the information on there that you can learn about.
Graffiti’s such a vast, global thing that’s exploded. It’s not going anywhere.
MA: Nekst is part of MAYHEM and his passing was something that resonated in the graffiti community, with both the younger and older generations taking notice. Why do you think that was?
C: He was a really good friend to people and, in turn, he had a lot of friends. And just the amount of work that he produced was insane. He did so much and he never really took breaks. He went hard for so many years in so many different places. His stuff is still everywhere in the country. People are familiar with it, but then a lot of people actually knew him too. He was just a real powerful personality, I would say a one of a kind guy. I feel like, no matter what, the stuff he did will never be forgotten in graffiti. People that don’t even know much about graffiti still know about him. He took it to that level.
MA: What can fans expect for this Friday’s upcoming show. Any last words?
C: [I’m] hoping that people come out, have a good time, and enjoy the collaboration that we did with Carnage. And that they check out the work and like it, that’s it!
“Hope to see you there,” are my last words I guess [Laughs].
Carnage Issue 7 features 76 pages of full color on high-quality stock and is limited to only 600 copies. The issue also include exclusive hand-written and printed stickers while supplies last. They will available at the Chip7 exhibition this Friday or via CarnageNYC.com this Monday, April 28 at Noon ET.