Ban graffiti writing

Hip-hop, as it’s defined by such aging psychopaths important scholars as KRS-One and Chief Rocker Busy Bee, is generally said to consist of four elements – rappin’, dancing, DJing, and graffiti writing. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that that fourth element, graffiti writing, should no longer be considered an element of hip-hop.

First of all, it’s worth noting that graffiti writing was only ever tangientally related to hip-hop to begin with, having been invented by old white guys who were into classic rock and could care less about rap music. No less an authority on what counts and what doesn’t count in hip-hop than Jeff Chang noted this in his critically acclaimed Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation.

Hispanic Americans will often try to claim they invented graffiti writing during ancient times, but then they’ve been known to try to claim all kinds of shit. Did you know that Mexicans invented a calendar, based on the solar system, that’s even more accurate than the calendar we use today? What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? I’m not sure.

Regardless (or as they say in certain communities, “irregardless”) of who invented graffiti writing, it’s value as an actual form of art has always been highly debatable. There was a time in the early 1980s when the fruits in New York’s art community would attempt to patronize graffiti writers by showing off fake graffiti, drawn on canvases, in real art galleries.

Cracka-ass crackas put the kibosh on that shit with the quickness though once artists’ entourages started shooting at each other outside shows. But that’s the thing: What use is graffiti anyway if it’s not on a wall or a train somewhere and hence illegal? Any old ‘tard with a few magic markers can draw his name in some fancy design on a sheet of paper.

Not to climb on top of my soapbox, as us midwesterners are wont to do, but there’s a certain thing called private property. When a man buy’s a wall, he likes to think that that wall will remain free of paint, unless he himself decides it could use a coat. This also happens to be the law.

Graffiti writing is wrong because it destroys private property and brings down the value of the community. Furthermore, there’s nothing particularly revolutionary about it if it’s some wall or train in the ghetto, which is the case more often than not, and not, say Jimmy “Double Fantasy” Iovine’s house.

Therefore, I’m suggesting that from here on out graffiti writing no longer be considered an element of hip-hop. If people like KRS-One and Busy Bee think it’s such an integral part of hip-hop, I think we should all spray paint their houses and see how they feel.

  • jimmy

    you’re on fire (nullus maximus! — got to bring that back) with this xxl gig.

    oh yeah: first.

  • http://nahright.com eskay

    worst post ever.

  • Siobhan

    about time someone said that. i know i didn’t buy my house for some punk to come spray paint their “tag” on it. bet their parents wouldn’t want that on their houses. and what’s worse is that it’s not always kids. there comes a time when little boys need to grow up and start respecting other people’s property. betcha if they owned their own homes and someone did it to theirs they wouldn’t be so cool with it.

  • John White

    Bitter old man.

  • http://riogood.blogspot.com/ rio rocket

    The Media Assasin hit some related notes back in 2000…

    “Why do we count writing (“graffiti”) as part of hip-hop culture, when its origins predate Kool Herc’s public performances of the music?”

    http://www.villagevoice.com/music/0009,allen,12870,22.html

  • http://xxlmag.com Bol

    ^Which I took as a tacit invitation to spray paint eskay’s house, nhjic.

  • Morgan Cole

    If you’re over the age of 14 and still spraying shit on walls (no homo) you deserve to be locked up.

  • lex

    Rap shouldn’t be consider an element of hiphop for it has always been the one that requires the least skills.

  • http://YAHOO 1 K.I.N.G W.A.T.R

    THIS FAG IS THE WORST HE COMPLAINS THAT SOUTH IS BITCHIN ABOUT NO ONE LIKES OR RESPECTS THERE MUSIC BUT THE ONLY PEOPLE THAT R TALKIN ARE PEOPLE FROM THE EAST.THEN HE WRITES THIS SHIT ABOUT PEOPLE TAGEN SHIT! GIVE IT UP YOUR OLD AND STARTIN TO GRUMPY. HATERATION IS IN HIS BLOOD!!

  • Morgan Cole

    Dear 1 K.I.N.G W.A.T.R,

    Instead of dissing Bol on an online messageboard, why don’t you enroll in a basic adult education class. Judging by your lousy spelling and punctuation, you’re much slower than than the average person.

    Your Friend,
    Morgan

  • Morgan Cole

    Oops, I added an unnecessary extra than.

  • DocZeus

    Bol, that’s why you spray PUBLIC property not private property? I see nothing wrong with spraying a giant “Fuck Bush” on the White House assuming you don’t get shot.

  • http://rockthedub.blogspot.com khal

    I guess you are just commenting on “tags”? What about the art that you used to see up on walls in NYC? Or the 3-D pieces you see all around Europe? I mean, I think Graf is nothing BUT Hip-Hop in aesthetic. It’s a part of the essence of what Hip-Hop is. It went hand in hand with crews battling, DJs reconstructing funk breaks, the big block parties and all of that.

    My main question is, if Graf is not Hip-Hop, what is it? And don’t say vandalism… that argument is out like Ed Koch.

    I did feel what you were saying about the canvases in the art shows… although those pieces are ill.

  • Rhek

    yo – I write graf and I’ve grown up with rap plus I DJ. To me – hip-hop, the 4 elements part of it, the commercialization and the downfall of it all – happened when the movie Wild Style lumped everything together (the 4 element bullshit) into a tight commercialized package that was easily consumed and able to be sold to the masses. Byron is fully right that a lot of early graf was done by kids who only liked punk, rock and metal and who had nothing to do with liking rap. To me, graf is ill, i like seeing it, it get’s kids interested in art, it’s a response to advertisments that cover our cites (billboards, bus ads, etc.) As well, graffiti is only an illegal activity – legal walls are murals, and gallery graf is bullshit. Hate it if you want, it’s not going away cause it’s part of youth culture. And it’s not really a defendable position – graff is nasty! But as for it being a four element – that’s just sorta yawm. Who gives a fuck about the 4 elements – only marketing directors and ad aagencies. Real people do real things and shitty little kids (even some grown up little kids like me) like to write their names on things. But Byron’s right about the 4 element thing. Geyeah!

  • FL

    Hip hop disowning graff? Shiiiiiiet. Lots of writers have disowned hip hop from the begining..

    “it’s value as an actual form of art has always been highly debatable”

    Lots of “old masters” died broke, but history proves their work undebatably art.

    Plus, Lettering like calligraphy is considered art… handstyles can be studied and analyzed the same way. ie. the aethstetics of graffiti can be defined and explained.

    Although i admit i could see how outsiders wouldnt rekonize it…

    Which is actually an interesting point:

    How many people say rap isnt music? But i bet YOU know better. YOU probably think someone whod say that is ignorant, wouldnt YOU? rap is just as much an art (potentially)as poetry. and making hot joints is just as much as an art (potentially) as conducting a symphony… maybe not.

    ///////////////////////

    And as far as the Morgan Cole “Im educated youre not” diss…. aw nevermind…..

    naw actually im gonna hit you back.

    You dissed dude saying he doesnt sound educated. you holier than thou fuck!

    first of all youre hypocritical for dissing him online about him dissing online

    and second

    “Oops, I added an unnecessary extra than.”

    you made another grammatical error you priss.

    School:

    unnecessary and extra are both adjectives.

    you basically said “i added an extra extra than”

    using double adjectives like that is considered awkward

    so maybe its YOU who needs to look into enrolling at the local community college…

    love peace and respect!

  • dollar_wells

    Nice. Where’s your response to Bun B?

  • http://nahright.com eskay

    sure Bol, you can come tag up my building I don’t give a fuck. Of course I write, (well I’m retired now, but I’ll always be a writer at heart) so to me graf beautifies the enviorment.

    the majority of people who never wrote will never appreciate graf and that’s somewhat understandable, but ya’ll should also know that it’s never going anywhere so you might as well save your breath.

  • Che

    imagine what bols mother looks like…seriously look at his picture and try and imagine what his mother looks like, hahahahahahahahaha!!! i imagine a hairy little ape scratching her crotch and wiping the juices from it on bols face.

  • gerv

    Bowl get over it graffiti will always be a part of hip hop.Morgan Cole get Bowl’s dick out your mouth bitch.

  • gerv

    I forgot your cmplaining old ass doesn’t have a “W” in your name. ha ha ha ha

  • Daniel

    Let me give you a list of reasons why graffiti is still relevant to hip hop.

    1. Bathing Ape is the current “it” brand of hip hop clothing collaborated with graffiti artist Kaws. I wouldn’t be suprised if many of the reader’s here have some Kaws Bapesta’s and don’t even know what they are about.
    2. There is an ex-graffiti writer in the Whitney Biennial for his artwork outside of graffiti.
    3. Graffiti writer Eric Haze was the art director for Def Jam during the defining days of hip hop album art.
    4. Fat joe and Kay Slay were known for graffiti before they were known for their contributions to the music.
    5. Graffiti writers Espo, Futura 2000, Haze, Stash, all made shoes that any “Nike head” in hip hop would wear if they could get there hands on them.

  • http://www.themixhut.blogspot.com Jack Swagger

    Everyone knows Ex is getting that blog gouda while Bol eats toilet paper and shits rasberries. Bustas go *pop*

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  • critic bully

    WHO THE FUCK LET YOU WRITE FOR XXL? YOU’RE WORSE THAN BENZINO.

  • daesonesb

    >Any old ‘tard with a few magic markers can draw his name in some

    As a graff artist, I can proudly say, “fuck that statement.” Take a look at productions done by such writers as duro 3, seen, saber, water, dabs… this shit is art.

    While graffiti is poorly represented by 13 year old suburban toys all over the world, this doesn’t diminish the contributions of real writers.

    Go watch style wars (a documentary on graff and breaking in the boogie down, early 80′s).

  • *** ***, TC.5 crew, NYC

    this dude is a fucking herb, and clearly NOT hip hop. I’ve read all his entries on this site and it seems that he’s just another pretentious okayplayer-esque dick back who fits the “those who can’t…” label.
    I’m not going to go into the whole “is graf part of hip hop thing” because i honestly think that it’s more of a new york thing, LIKE hip hop, that made it’s way around the world. I dunno, i guess people who are from these random places where they had to go out of their way to get their dose of this culture of ours were always able to pick and choose what they saw, etc…
    and the end of the day, it’s all rebel art from us to the people… and this internet hack is no rebel… just a herb on a laptop doing a bad ronin ro impersonation

  • luis

    graffiti is instrumental in not only expression, it can (emphasis on “can”) be a personal expression of art (which it should be) or angst against society (in commentary form – although I see much less of this here than in Europe). For you to just totally dismiss it is just your attempt of stirring the pot which I know you do because you just want to. Its your job, I understand. Graf can be destructive but at times such visual violence can be beautiful and socially conscious and that is both important and necessary.

    by the way, as a Chicano male, your comment on the calendar and the connection with my ancestry is really insensitive. “Hispanic” Americans (please, “Hispanic” is not a WORD – refrain from using. “Latino” is a better representation although that can be arguable as well in various circles) don’t “claim” that they invented “all kinds of shit”. Where are you coming from? This phrase makes you sound more like just a blogger and not a writer but I’m not the one trying to stir the pot. Good luck in the future but be less offensive (which I doubt…you do need the readership). Peace.

  • http://www.hardcoreclassic.com TommyRock

    “old white guys who were into classic rock and could care less about rap music”

    “a lot of early graf was done by kids who only liked punk, rock and metal”

    I like how a lot of people say this to dicredit old school writers, like they forget Herc and Bam and most other OG DJs were fans of punk, rock, tv show themes, german electro, and of course funk, soul, jazz, blues etc etc…………..short of the live tapes, everyone in the Hip-Hop scene would have been listening to other shit – what Hip-Hop wax was available before 78

    and finnaly – make the intelligent distinction that not all ‘graffiti’ should be classed in the same category as the work of Hip-Hop writers………………..someone painting on a wall in 1924 has nothing to do with the Hip-Hop graf scene of the 70s, the same way you wouldn’t call Mohammed Ali one of Hip-Hop’s greatest MCs………….sure he was rhyming, but most people can tell the difference in relation

    a lot of pioneering DJs, MCs and B-Boys were writers, and vice versa – to say that graf isn’t wasn’t part of the culture is pure ignorance……….Byron Crawford why are you considered a Hip-Hop authority when you’re obviously a just bystander? punk

  • daesonesb

    >this dude is a fucking herb, and clearly NOT hip hop. I’ve read all his entries on this site and it seems that he’s just another pretentious okayplayer-esque dick back who fits the “those who can’t…” label.

    Bol is def not Okayplayer esque/ That would require him to be down with a lot of shit that he isnt… like dangerdoom. That or he would have to proclaim to the world that blackalicious is the greatest rapper of all time.

  • micguevara

    Again,this guy is clearly clueless to what hip hop is,graffitti was around a long time before rock music or “white guys” it’s been part of hiphop since the begging,and only left hiphop when it could not make corprate america any money. you are completly ignorant to what hiphop is.you make a great point that inner city modern graffitti was started by rocker,which i guess it was,but the turntables(which is the biggest thing in hiphop) was also not invented by anyone in hip hop.hip hop is a art form about takeing something froma nother culture and molding it into ours,the first beats were disco,the dress code was athletic. your blog is a joke,you must try a new apraoch you have no idea what hip hop is.

  • Mozeek789

    Graffiti will always be a part of Hip-
    Hop. Sure, blacks stole it from White
    people who listen to rock and roll,
    but hey, white people stole rock and
    roll from us. So, it’s only fair.

  • http://www.fotolog.com/wastoids wastoids

    bol, what in the name of flim flarn are you flatulating about? your concept of property is outdated, a capitalist by-product of the same imperial forces that threaten to tide the sea of bilious vomit that will erode these very same outdated concepts… get your head out of new york, graffiti > hip hop… you should be begging for better cover art, and more lovely public spaces, instead you’ve pen and pixeled yourself into a corner…. enjoy the free promo gear

  • gateman

    Actually the Mayans “invented” several calendars.

    But if you are right, the gang graffiti from chicano gangs is what started the graff that is the NORM today, and that is because they adopted the powerful symbolism in the Olde English Black Letter scripts. And you are trying to say graffiti should be disassociated from hip-hop, when almost ALL of the rap advertisments and album covers and CLOTHING all have the same style of writing? Graffiti is all over all the shit, take a look at the shyne issue, REVOLT is on the back cover. You are a sucker writer, you are ignorant and you need to listen to your spirit, because you, like most others in the rap game are lost and manipulated into thinking like REDNECKS. wake-up fool, whitey is not on your side

  • http://myspace.com/scumbag604 THE SCUM BAG

    YOU ARE A DISGRACE TO HIPHOP, A RACIST, AND AN IDIOT! Graffiti is the first foremost n rawest element of hip hop. whether it was created by white people,hispanics, or african americans should make no difference in its credibility. its people like you who water down the culture aad are simutaneously ruining it as we speak. ask joe crack, krs1, tame 1, or lords of the underground, or grandmaster flash or fab 5 freddy if graffiti should be considered an element in hip hop. they will most obviously say yes. Who are they u ask? they are pioneers of the culture. who are you? sum dumb columnist who gets paid to write about hip hop? that is not an element and that aint real. hip hop should be about love, not about the dollar, and thats exactly how graffiti artists look at the situation.
    get a grip son! you dont know what your talking about.

    go listen to Krs One’s “out for fame” of his selftitled album “KRS-ONE” that is the epitimy of hip hop.
    1
    -your friendly nieghborhood scumbag

  • Big Dall

    Dogg you are straight buggin, how did you get into a position where you are commenting on hip hop. Hip hop and grafitti are related because they are both urban arts, the origins are now irrelevant. If we did steal it from rock and rolling caucasians its all good, we did that to take it to another level, just like we do everything else. There are also some ill hip hop white boys that rep grafitti being a relative of hip hop as well. Grafitti is modern day heiroglyphics and hip hop is modern day poetry, both used for many reasons, to express oneself, deliver messages and to promote immortality by keeping a mans name alive. Did you say you were from the midwest, thats probably why, you know nothing about the relationship. you are nowhere near the meccas and birthplaces of the modernized form of either art. your opinion is irrelevant, do some more research and show some more respect.

  • Big Dall

    Ohh yeah and your a cock blower for sayin that shit.

  • PsydeOner

    Most people do not get the concept of Hip-Hop and Graffiti. Some people see Rap as intricate rhymes and others as poetry but in the end its just music. Graffiti is an art form many people choose to express their feelings and emotions with. With paint, markers or anything we can get our hands on as a medium. Sure we might have taken Graffiti from whites. But the Blacks and the Latinos made it better. Hip-Hop inspires many Writers and it fuels their creativity. NYC writers like Cope2, Lady Pink, T-Kid, Seen, and even that dude Mark Ecko have Hip-Hop in their blood. It gives us our whole style. So fuck you if you hate on our art form and style. Peace Psyde One AkA SiDe OnEr POWKrew MHB.

  • TRiUMPH

    ive just read three of your diary entries. this one, the one on proof and the mixtape rant. i gotta say, you are the DUMBEST NIGGER on earth. and i can say that im black!

  • Greg D

    OK Stupid obviously your not out grinding trying to make it in the game. First your just a fan you dont matter. Second thats all some of these rappers are able to get there name out there. Third, Youre from the Suburbs, shut the fuck up!

  • JONNY06 lincolnshire england

    WHAT R U TALKING ABOUT. U MUST BE SMOKING SOME BAD GREEN TO BE SAYING SHIT LIKE THAT.U DONT EVEN KNOW WHAT U R TAKING ABOUT U FUCK.U R ALSO TRYING TO CHANGE HISTORY.BUT KNOW ONE AGREES WITH U. YOU HAVENT HAD ONE COMMENT AGREEING WITH YOU U DUMB FUCK.

  • Anon

    yo fuck that.

    writings where its at kid.

    beautify the block!

  • reakuno

    he’s just an ignorant commercial “hip-hop” journalist. dont worry about his opinion, as he obviously doesnt really matter

  • Random

    Ignorance is understandable here.
    You have to realize writers (people who do graffiti) who know what theyre doing will never paint your house, or any of your personal property for that matter. If you wake up and someone tagged your fence, chances are its some kid who knows shit all about graf, and found a can of paint in his garage.

  • http://superfreakingbingo.com numb

    I’m glad all these other people gave you shit before I found your disgrace of an article. Please shoot yourself. In the head preferably.

    -numb

  • http://01100101010 0100101001

    “When a man buy’s a wall, he likes to think that that wall will remain free of paint, unless he himself decides it could use a coat. This also happens to be the law.”

    HAHAHA. Yes, uh. How much for that fine wall you have there in the window? I’d like to purchase it in order to place outside of my residence so that every day I can wake up to blank concrete to remind myself of what a drab cracka ass cracka hating piece of midwestern shit I really am. Lordy lord… and while i’m listening to my ganster rap and putting hot candles up my ass I hope none of those bad bad graffiti writers come along with their illegal markers and put some of their illegal imagination spew on my pretty wall.

  • Black Magic

    I think graffiti is cool only when they draw art and wildstyle on the wall.Drawing names and tags is really stupid and it’s vandalism.

  • http://www.jlondde3.org/tette tette

    Interessieren. SEHR interessant! ;)

  • http://www.marshawj.org/dame dame

    pagine piuttosto informative, piacevoli =)

  • Magk

    Why are you moaning about graffiti being a crime and it being a part of hip hop a problem? Those who make it big in the graffiti scene spend as much time and effort as rappers in the music scene. As for it being a crime – so is drug dealing, murder, robbery, use of narcotics – but there are thousands of people who do those things who even record them in there rhymes. Im from london in the UK – the people i know rob people, stab people, shoot people its all fucked up but its part of the culture. (Dont take greif from people, make money, live high etc.)

  • Sancho

    Yeah, this guy is a real authority…just like the magazine he works for.

  • CRAZY MUTHAPHUKKIN C

    FIRST OF ALL HOMIE GRAFFITI CAME FROM US MEXICANS ON DA WESTSIDE IN EAST L.A. IN THE 50′s PEOPLE WERE PAINTIN RAZA MURALS ALL OVER THE PLACE TAGGING EVOLVED FROM GANGS GANGS USED TAGGING 2 MARK OFF THEIR TERRITORY SO OPPOSING GANGS WOULDNT KUM IN JUST B-CUZ IT GOT POPULAR ON THE EAST COAST YALL THINK YALL INVENTED IT IT WUZ US CHICANOS THAT INVENTED U FUCKIN MAYATE WHITEY STOLE IT FROM US N IF THINK U IM WRONG GO ASK SUM OG’z FROM EAST L.A. HOMIE N TAGGING IZ A WAY 2 FREE YOUR MIND FROM ALL THE BULLSHIT THAT GO’s ON IN YOUR LIFE Y DONT U TRY BEIN MEXICAN N LIVIN IN THE SLUMS U FUCKEN RACIST PEICE OF SHIT COCK SUCKER

  • CRAZY MUTHAPHUKKIN C

    u r a fucken discrace 2 hip hop u aint even from the hood motherfucker u fucken wannabe cracker

  • unEkONeS

    HOW CULD U EVEN SUGGEST THAT GRAFFITI SHULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AN ELEMENT OF HIP HOP…
    SHIIETT GRAFFITI IS HIP HOP.
    THA 4 ELEMENTS ALL TIE TUHGETHER..
    DJ-ING IS THA CREATION AND PRODUCTION OF HIPHOP’S AUDIBLE FORM, MC-ING IS ITS AUDIBLE FORM, BREAK DANCING IS ITS PHYSICAL FORM, AND GRAFFITI IS THE VISUAL FORM OF HIP HOP…FOR YOU TO SUGGEST OTHERWISE, NOT ONLY TELLS ME THAT U ARE WUN OF THOSE IGNORANT PPL WHO SEE GRAFFITI AS VANDALISM, BUT THAT U DONT KNO SHIIT BOUT GRAFFITI AND HOW IT EVOLVED INTO WHAT IT IS TODAY.

  • Anonymous

    If you’re going to write a polemic against graffiti try and write something with a little more strength than this drivel. Argue against it from an anthropological standpoint, an artistic standpoint, an aesthetical standpoint, any standpoint beside a american capitalist standpoint.

    Not that it matters, but I’m a graffiti writer without a college education; just high school.

  • PurpleKushY

    I’ve read 100 AMAZING articles by you Bol..

    but this dim-witted, ignorant one shadows them all… I hope I can get back to liking your writings…