Wane COD Bronx Graffiti

Mass Appeal Presents: The NYC Box Truck

They say that the end of an era always ushers in another, and few cities know this sentiment as much as New York does. With all its histories, individual odysseys, and collective chapters alike, The Big Apple has always been a place of constant change and perpetual legacy all at once. It’s a bit of a paradox really. In under a century, the same hallowed soil that many immigrants clung to for new opportunities and freedoms have become grounds for the newer, home-grown generations to rebelliously explore in the form of aerosol paint.

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To be fair, the cultural significance of New York graffiti is an epic tale, far too large to cover in one literary swoop. Here’s a hint, you’ll want to know your Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant photography, for starters. But as with all grand stories, there were peaks and pivotal points. One said period was the official end of the subway car piecing era in the late ‘80s. A time when the city decided to stamp out the victorious streak of individual artists and crews that ran amok, capitalizing on the Apple’s most prominent form of free advertising.

You see, the subway car was a rolling canvas for writers— it went underground, it went above ground, it crossed multiple neighborhoods, it crossed boroughs. And in a culture where having your work seen throughout the city was a big deal, getting onto a car was major league caliber and status. Fortunately for graffiti and its supporters, the end wasn’t really the end, as the transition out of the train “golden” era instead meant a collective shift into other areas— other locations, other surfaces, other moving targets.

Staten Island Rime Toper

Enter the ubiquitous New York City box truck. Known throughout all the boroughs as the quintessential transportation vehicle of choice for delivering everything from furniture to produce, the already famous trucks also became invaluable to writers for its beckoning white exterior. Alas, a new traveling canvas with enough surface area to satisfy the most ambitious of pieces and the potential to be driven and be seen throughout the entire city and beyond. Sold!

There are eight million stories, 276 neighborhoods, and five boroughs that make up this vast and wondrous city that we call New York. That’s a lot of score keeping! Yet somehow, some way it all comes together in one place to create one ever-evolving, multi-faceted result. It’s historic, it’s chaotic, and if you blink or look in the wrong direction you might miss some of the most impactful mythos of a generation or two.

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To stay in tune with the motion and the notion, Mass Appeal is keeping true to its graffiti roots— like when we dropped those borough-centric issues in the ‘90s— and paying homage to the links that continue to make this metropolis one. We gathered up a few legendary writers and contemporary artists to shine some light on their respective boroughs and their story through the lens of box truck canvases, generously provided by Nike NYC. The result is a five-part saga that highlights the art of Wane COD (The Bronx), Rime and Toper (Staten Island), Chino BYI (Brooklyn), Micah (Manhattan), and Smart Crew (Queens).

Suit up and take a ride with them as they share their unique perspective about the bonds that tie this unparalleled and unique city together like no other.

Words by Rainey Cruz
Photos by Brian Kelley and Will Robson-Scott
Canvases provided by Nike NYC

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