Photos by Will Robson-Scott
Easy has been writing his name on the streets of New York since the ’80s. He retired some years ago, but now he’s un-retired. Son is all city.
Easy is a nickname that was given to me by females when I was in school. Because I was kinda laid-back and cool. It was like “Hey, Easy.” I was cool with it. I’m never mad at the ladies. I first started writing in 1982 under the name of LC. My brother got me into graffiti. I was totally against it at first — I wasn’t into writing on trains or property. But I went out on a little journey with my brother on the trains; I put my name up. Boom, boom, boom! I’d seen my tags when I was going to school one day and I was like “wow.” From that day on, I started loving this art form.
Josh 5 and Gast were my first partners. After that, it was me and Joz. And then TeKay TNR got involved … That was when we just lost our minds. We focused on the trains — mainly the 3 line — and the streets. But back in the ‘80s, we got a lot of attention on the streets because there weren’t a lot of people doing it at the time. And we were going pretty hard.
Me, Josh 5 and Gast started doing streets in 1983. As far as guys who were doing streets, back in the ‘80s you had Pre Sweet, Flasher, OE, Prince EA, Bio, Become Catholic, Arise, Lil Man, Trim, Trech, Chino BYI, Saint TMR. The streets were dangerous back then. New York was the wild, wild west. The crack era was in full swing.
You could be putting your name up on a wall but someone else might be thinking you’re putting up a sign to kill somebody … We got chased by tons of people, man. We would go to suburban areas where people were pretty much racist. Then they would call the cops on us and make up bogus accusations.
One time, me, Gast, Chama and Joz got off on the last stop on the 2 train. We did our thing as we walked up towards Yonkers. A pickup truck tried to run Joz over. Ten minutes later, we saw like 12 cop cars coming at us. That was nerve-racking. They thought we were up to some other criminal activities. They took us to the precinct. They kept Joz and Chama because they were too young to get released. Meanwhile, I still had my cans on me. They didn’t search me thoroughly enough. I always kept my cans tucked in nicely at my back. But they didn’t care about the graffiti because of the initial accusations. They thought we were trying to break into people’s homes.
I really don’t like talking about myself, but it was amazing back then. It wasn’t just writers who noticed me back then, but rappers and actors … that’s how I met KRS One. He was a writer so he knew what was up. But then there was Rakim and LL [Cool J] — I’d heard that they wanted to meet me, too. Which blew me away, because I didn’t really think that people noticed what we were doing. Writing was just something we did for fun. The fame I had back then was just wild.
Spray cans, spray cans, spray cans — that was my life back then. I was pretty much addicted more than anybody in my crew. There were times when these guys didn’t want to bomb and I’d go to the train yards or the streets by myself. I had a real graffiti problem. I had moved out of New York for some years and when I moved back in 2010, I was praying that I wouldn’t get that problem again. But unfortunately, it’s there. It’s hard to kick.
Joz had an issue with a guy who wrote Seze; Joz went over him one time, and he destroyed Joz’s stuff all over the place. Joz also had an issue with PJay—PJay would put his P’s in front of Joz’s J’s. Joz was on a manhunt for those two guys. Me? I had a little beef with Cap MPC on the trains. But who didn’t have beef with that guy?
I never really quit. When I moved to Virginia I was still doing a little something, but there was no one else down there who did at the time. I stopped for a few years after Joz passed away. He died because of an asthma attack back in 2002. His passing devastated me. I’m still devastated, actually. I almost shared that same fate last year. I was that close from passing away myself. Both of my lungs collapsed. Pneumonia. I don’t wear a respirator when I paint but whenever I spray I hold my breath.
Josh 5 is my blood cousin. He moved down to Virgina with me — we were getting up a bit down there. He’s getting up again. But he’s always had a career of going in and out of jail. And that’s why you might see Joz up — because I’m putting him up — and Easy, but you won’t see Josh 5 because he’s currently back in jail. He had a hard life. My aunt passed away, and he was basically left to raise himself. He was 13, 14 years old. In the streets. The guy is a beautiful person. I feel bad that he had to go through that. But me and him have always remained close. Unfortunately, he’s on Riker’s right now, but he’ll be out soon.
Josh 5 is a huge part of me bombing in the first place. Because I was a little older than him it was like, if he could get me into writing he would be safe and he’d be able to stay out later.
In 2010, I just wanted to come out with a few tags and leave it at that. Me and Josh 5 talked about getting into doing canvases and stuff like that. But once I touched a can that was it, man. I hate saying that word; I hate thinking that there is something out there that has control over me but yes, graffiti is an addiction. But I also love it to death. I’m
doing it for the love. I just love seeing it, and not just seeing my stuff. I love seeing everyone on
Graffiti in New York today is completely different. There are a lot of politics. People might bomb for a year and they want this title — I’m a legend, I’m a king, I’m this, I’m that. Everything is politics now. It’s not just for the love, like it used to be. The Internet plays a huge part in what’s going on as well. And you have these new guys coming up who don’t have too much respect for the older guys who paved the way and I think that is terrible. When you have guys like me and Sen 4 who have been doing it forever, and then you have these guys who will just go over us, I don’t think that’s OK. As a youngster, I looked up to all of the older guys; I gave them all my respect. But people don’t get down like that these days.
I haven’t met any of the new guys, though. I try to stay very low-key. I bomb with Sen 4 and ZA. Stuff gets buffed quicker these days. Me and Sen 4 were just talking about this. The buff just wasn’t there back in the days. Some of these buffers will just target a name and take you out specifically. They got some kind of graffiti mobile buff machine that goes around buffing everything. January 2011, I went under the 2 train line — I bombed that whole thing. I went back two months later and I only had two tags living … that was it. They killed me. That hurt.
These days, you’re going against the buff, then you’ve gotta go against disrespectful writers … and the police. The difference between now and then is, now, you can catch a felony.
Funny thing is, turns out a guy I was writing with recently wasn’t a regular cop, but he’s a postal cop. He got caught. And that’s how I finally got “talked to” through that little situation. I haven’t talked to him since. If he would have called me — I mean, the guy is a cool guy. But if he would have called and explained it to me maybe I would have accepted an apology; he could have explained that it was just a misunderstanding. But I never received a call. I heard he moved out-of-state but I don’t think that’s true. I didn’t see him as a writer when I first met him. Ghost had a show and I met him there. He said he had $10,000 to invest in some projects. He wanted to do shirts and said he was going to invest in some equipment so we could get into some artwork. He was talking about investing in some huge printing machine — but he never did.
I really love this graffiti thing, so my plan right now is probably to sell some artwork and travel the world. I’m going to promote my name but I want to attach messages — say things that are positive. I like dealing with a lot of political things as well. I’m really against the way the world deceives us and creates this reality that … a lot of people in this world are really deceived. They’re living an illusion. They’ve gotta keep all of humanity under slavery …that’s my message.
I used to be addicted to racking, but I’m a bit too old for that now. I wasn’t just good at racking paint — I could rack anything.
I’m older than a lot of cops! It’s embarrassing. They expect kids to be writing, not someone my age. They start laughing, “How old are you doing this? What do you get out of this?” But I would never explain it to them. Only us inside of this culture are built to understand that. But I’ll laugh and admit that I’m embarrassed and I’ll be sincere about that.
Since I’m addicted to it, yes. For a crackhead, crack quenches their need. I don’t smoke crack, but me spraying and spraying until the paint goes … oh my god. I love it. It’s a beautiful thing. There’s a conflict here obviously. When I’m out there bombing, I stay with a positive mind. You can defeat things with a positive mind. When I’m out there I tell people with me to stay positive. Keep positive mannerisms. It makes a difference.
Before bombing, I’d drink a 4 Loco and just go at it. When I first came back. It would loosen me up. Help my confidence. You just gotta worry about the police and doing one or two days in the pen.
Sometimes people see me getting up. Sometimes I might go and write in front of a crowd — and people love it. They say wow, I’ve never seen this. But some people yell that they’re gonna call the police. I’ve bombed in the daytime, but I don’t think that’s wise. You’ve gotta be smart and be on your toes.
My message is this: if you’re going to bomb, just be respectful to the bombers who came before you. I’ve got love for the new guys, I got love for the old guys. Let’s show some respect for one another. We’re all in this together.
This story appears in Mass Appeal Issue 52. Read more stories from the issue here.