What borough are you from?
Brooklyn - Bay Ridge to be specific.
Where and what year did you start writing?
Began late 1979 in Bay Ridge.
What inspired you to become involved in writing?
Fortunately the block I was raised on, 92nd St. and Gelston Ave. was home to a crew called the Bad Racket. That crew included RR (who also wrote SASE), RS3, RE3, SER, BIR NF, NC, Hi5, S3, YR, JH and a few others.
Did you have a mentor?
I had a few mentors throughout the years. My first was RR. He was the best of the best in my neighborhood. He got up on the RR's and bombed the bus lines - especially the 3rd and 5th Ave lines. RR stood out because he could also do throw-ups and pieces. His piecing style was a bubble letter BK style, influenced by GASP 69 (GASP got up in The Warriors movie). RR found me on my block, saw I had talent an took me under his wing. Taught me how to bomb buses and influenced my hand-style and pieces. In '82 I met a writer from Staten Island, SG3,. We used to bomb S.I. buses so some of the kids in S.I. would come to Bay Ridge to cop weed or something and I met SG. He brought me benching on Pacific St. That's where I got to see the IRT trains and pick up on Wild Style. SG gave me my first Wild Style outline. From there, it was off to the races inventing my own style. Another great mentor to me was ANT who kinged the inside of the BMT and some IRT trains throughout the 80's. He was like an older brother to me. Also Henry Chalfant was abig support for all of us. I met him at the Style Wars opening...he took a liking to me and has been an ally ever since.
Who influenced your style?
In the beginning, RR. Also, there was an article in the Village Voice called the Fire Down Below and they had a full page spread of some of the top writers' whole cars like DONDI, LEE and SEEN. Those stood out to me. HAZE, MIN and a lot of the RTW crew had an influence on me. SG3, LAWE too. When it came to my pieces these guys spoke volumes of style to me. I believed that you needed to master all - tagging, piecing and throw-ups to be a true writer so when it came to tagging, SES, MIN BABY168, STRIDER and ZEPHYR inspired a lot of my style. I labored over mastering all, but piecing was my way of telling a story and I excelled at it at an early age and tried to stay one step ahead. I always admired ERNI and New Wave crew as innovators.
How did you get your name KAVES and was it the first name you wrote?
It was handed down to me by RR. It was his brothers tag, but he retired, so RR gave it to me. I first started writing KAVS but underneath the Verrazano Bridge, all the kids hung in a place called the cave and I liked the ring it had, so I added the E. SG3 concurred, so KAVES it was.
List all the other names under which you have painted?
KAVS, KAVES, KVS, KV, KE, PRINCE KAVES and Mr. KAVES.
What was the writing scene like in Bay Ridge when you were starting?
The scene was explosive in the early 80's. It was already on fire. In my neighborhood, kids mostly wrote on the BMT lines and also the buses. They mastered tagging styles and mixed colored markers filled with Flo-master opaque white with store ink purple. Guys like SNAKE, BT (Bad Taxi), AC, JOENUTS, SOR RAC, ROACH, AS2, BF, ERB, MOON, BLADE, MR. R, REVLON, BLAS, DELK... Also the writers I mentioned earlier. These were Bay Ridge and Sunset Park writers. There were many more as the years passed. This was just my little section of South Brooklyn. Every neighborhood had tons of writers...you'd need a scorecard to keep count. For me writing was a way to become famous...or infamous.
How did you get started on the subway, what were your early experiences?
I learned to street bomb and piece on the Verrazano bridge to handball courts and buses and then started on the RR's. There was a lay-up close to my house which became our main spot. I started on the insides and worked my way out. I started to piece my first real piece was a whole car on New Year's Eve '83 with MONIE, STRIDER and BRAZE - Bad Company crew.
What were your most active years on the subway?
1980 to 1986.
What lines did you hit?
Basically I focused on the BMT lines bombing the RR's, B's, the D's, the N's, the F's and the M's.
What lay-ups and yards did you prefer to hit?
Coney Island yard, Fresh Pond yard, City Hall, Church Ave, Fort Hamilton and a few I'd rather not mention 'cause I still believe some things are better left unsaid.
Did you ever have conflicts with other writers in the yards?
There was always beef or conflict or competition. I was writing in the 80's and it was more of a beef driven era.
Do you have any good raid stories?
Too many raid stories to go into, but real quick - I was doing an end-to-end silver with LASK One at Cherry Hill. As we were almost finished the lights came on and we thought we were being raided. Later I found out it was other writers inside the train car, so we booked off the tracks, down the hill onto the street. LASK and I were walking with duffel bags of paint and a police van drove by and stopped. They threw their truck into reverse and chased us back up onto the tracks. We dipped behind a store and climbed up a hill to get back to the tracks with the cops on our ass. LASK jumped over the fence while I tried to go under it ans I got stuck. LASK made like Carl Lewis while I was there stuck. As I tried to untangle myself the cops ran up the hill and we wrestled between the fence which actually freed me so I ran until the cops got winded and gave up. I hid in someones backyard for a while and walked to my father's house in Flatbush with a bloody nose.
Who were your most successful partners?
KING ANT, REVLON, BRAT... I bombed with many writers, such as OD, WADE, SS, BONES, LASK, my brother YR who also wrote MASE. EARLY DAYS - NC, Hi5, KOSE, WIL1, KAB, MONIE (EG), SG3, ONCE, GHOST... Today, SAMP and KR.
What crews were you down with?
TBR, TD, BC, BTS, VO5, XMEN, KAOS, TNI. I started my own crew called Verrazano Boyz a/k/a Vice Boyz which later became Lordz of Brooklyn. In later years, I became an honorary member of TMT and MAFIA.
How where and when did the Lordz of Brooklyn crew start (What was the inspiration)?
The Lordz of Brooklyn crew was influenced by my father's gang from Flatbush call Pig Town. They were like the original Lords of Flatbush. It started out as a rap group/graffiti crew and as we became more involved with music it became less associated with graffiti.
What year was it founded?
VB was founded in 1984, but the Lordz of Brooklyn was founded in '88.
Who were the leaders and original members?
My brother AD MONEY was the DJ and I was the MC. Then we enlisted Scotty Edge, Paulie Two Times and Dino Botz. My brother stepped up as one of the lead MC's along with me and Edge.
Who were the top writers of your era?
I came up in the early 80's on the trains and obviously the IRT lines got a lot of fame from Style Wars and the book Subway Art. There were a lot of writers who caught fame but I was from the BMT lines and these are the writers that stand out in my mind... ANT, AC NYC, JOENUTS, RR, BF, IZ THE WIZ, BABY 168, MAGIC KGB, STUN, SNOW, BOE, SAGO, DELK, SAKE, SS, CHIC, NET, BONES, PEEK, PG, MIN, REVOLT, ZEPHYR, DAZE, STRIDER, LASK, BRAZE, EG, OE, P13, SES, KROOK, ROACH, BET, JA, GHOST, ERNI, SIZE, KR, FOME, CUSTOM, WEBER, DOC, STAFF, CHRIS217, ICE, SURF, PAULISTIC, PANIC, OD, TRIM, CHINO, SAST, REZ, WADE, BRAT, ZANE, REN, SOR, RAC, RAO, PEO, RAD3, SP, BLAS, ERB, MOON, BLADE, QUICK, HAZE, REVLON, KAB, PORT, TATU, KEV, TRIKE, SAKE, SR, DEST, SEEK, KAOS, JN, MASK, VINNY 3YB, MR. ICE, RAM707, PIL3, LEE3, BUST, KP, HAZ... There really are too many to keep going. Some of the crews were RTW WOW, TD, XMEN, TAT, CIA, UA, KGB, INC, DOG, TBK, BTS, BC, KAOS, LSD, KTU, NCB, TATS CRU, New Wave...
When did you stop painting subways?
About 1986. Attempted to make a comeback in '88 to do a whole car with my partner REVS but we were raided. Never quit writing...I continued to do pieces on walls, canvases etc to the present day. In 1985, I was published in Henry Chalfant's book Spray Can Art.
Fill us in on Lordz of Brooklyn— the band.
We started in 1988, first mentored by MC TRO and our first real demos were done by Public Enemy's Professor Griff. In the early 90's we did a song and video called "Bomb the System" based on graffiti. The video was produced by Henry Chalfant and Carl Weston. Also hooked up with House of Pain and did a song called "Baseball Bats & Beers." We eventually were signed to Rick Rubin's American Recordings and our first single was "Saturday NIte Fever." We toured all over the world with groups like Sublime, Korn, Cypress Hill, House of Pain, Everlast, Fishbone and numerous time on the Vans Warped Tour. We've been on Beavis and Butthead and Conan O'Brien. We have our songs licensed by the Knicks, The Mets, TheGiants, Rockstar Games. We even had our own tv show on MSG & Fuse called The Brooklyn Way. We definitely paid our dues and pioneered the hip hop rock genre. For more infor about LOB check out lordzofbrooklyn.com.
How did you get involved in tattooing and when was your shop Broklyn Made founded?
Danny Boy gave me my first tattoo machine. I always was a fan of Michelangelo, but SEEN and MED opened up the door for graffiti writers to start tattooing. BABA from UA was a mentor as well. I opened my first shop with MED called TUFF CITY/BROOKLYN INK. We broke off and years later I opened Brooklyn Made Tattoo (BMT) and I've been tattooing now for over 12 years. Back in the early 90's we also had a graffiti inspired apparel store called BMT LInes. We were the first writers to own and operate a shop of that nature in NYC and part of the first wave of graffiti artists to pioneer an apparel line. Our shop included graffiti and transit memorabilia and it was designed to replicate a subway station with the front of an RR train.
Recently you have been involved in several high profile projects including a solo exhibition at Hionas Gallery. Please tell us about the projects.
I just had my first solo show at the Hionas Gallery in New York City. I was the first graffiti artist to design the Beaujolais Noveau wine label and next week I have a painting in Metallica's art exhibit. I've also had an exhibit at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago and still have works in the Gunther Sachs museum in Germany, as well as one in the Van's Warped Tour exhibit at the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. In the past I've designed for NIKE, PONY ADIDAS, ROCKSTAR GAMES, MTV, FUSE, VAN'S WARPED TOUR and others.
Your Brooklyn roots figure prominently in all of your work. What does Brooklyn mean to you and what are you trying to communicate about it in your work?
Brooklyn to me is the heart, soul and inspiration for my art. It's the only thing we really had a s kids growing up - one of the greatest neighborhoods in the world. I feel like I'm part of a long line of storytellers...a branch from the tree that grown in Brooklyn.
Do you still paint traditional graffiti?
Yes. Over the summer I had a great time with Tats Cru, BIO, YES 2, NICER, BG183, DEMOTE, IVORY, SES and WANE and also SAMP and KR doing some walls and a show at the Gunther Sachs museum which TERROR organized where I painted with T KID, CHAIN 3, RIFF, GHOST and SERV.
Do you have any final words and shout outs?
Growing up in the era was a special time...I feel like our generation of writers was under extreme stresses and anxieties by the law, other writers... We only had short windows to be creative because the heat was on. I've always considered myself an all-around writer and that tradion, I believe, should carry on. You should know how to piece AND tag and know your history. Respect the cats that were here before you. Shout outs to the people who've lived and died for graffiti - IZ THE WIZ, JOEY SEMZ (RIP), SIET VO5, DONDI (RIP), SHY 147 (RIP), BOSS (RIP), AGREE (RIP), KASE2 (RIP), D-ROCK(RIP), SAMP3, REVS, KAB, SEZ, KOOL, S3, MASK, ANT, LEE, HAZE, MARE, FUTURA, STASH2, GHOST, SHR, BONES, SS, MED, CES, YES, NB, COAST, SEEN, TERROR, ADMONEY, KR, 2MINT, DON1, MISTER R, RESE, CHIP, REPS, REBEL, RIBS, RIME, VERRAZANO BOYZ, SG3, MARS, SKOPE, ONCE, REAS, VEN, BABA, CARTOON, ESTEVAN, DANCE, LUE, EZEC, SKID, WOP, RISK, DANNYBOY, EVERLAST, WANE, WEBER, CHAIN3, TEAN5, LASK, ATRA, BEAT, ON2, DEK-5, PJ, CADE, PT3, JUNO, ANCER, TODD1, AMUSE, TERO, BIZ, KOSE, RAME, BT, KROOK, RINE, SOR, RAC, CAN2, TRIM, MADC, CHINO, SP, CEALER, SYRE (RIP) WIL1, ZANE, BRAT, LAWE, EROS, MACKIE, BET, ZERA, WADE, ROACH, WOLF, TEAM, SYSTEM, RAZE, TRIXTER, BUSTER DAZE and to anyone I left out...you know who you are. I'd like to thank my wife and kids for their support.
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