The XMEN were one of the most interesting New York City street culture phenomena of the early- '80s. The XMEN started as a graffiti crew and quickly expanded to become a multi-dimensional social and party organization with membership from all over the City. XMEN membership included writers, DJ's, rappers, break dancers, and roller skaters. The XMEN were as renowned for their club-quality parties and hang-outs as they were for bombing trains and neighborhoods. The XMEN were a Brooklyn-based crew founded at Brooklyn Technical High School in 1980 by the president TATU and the vice-president SOE 1. The original members were TATU, SOE 1, RAZE 1, and RES 1. SOE was already an established writer, having hit the J, M, LL, 6 and 7 lines during the 1977-1980 period. Some of SOE's most prolific pre-XMEN bombing was done with DEZ, MACE, FED 1, BEE and WEE of The Crazy Partners-TCP on the 6 line, and with FUZZ 1 on the 1's and 7's in 1979-1980. SOE also wrote under the aliases BIG 279, LINK 2, and SAMPLE. TATU, RAZE, and RES were up-and-coming talent who hit the 2,4,and 5 lines, along with many neighborhoods in South Brooklyn.
This mix of backgrounds led to the XMEN developing their own unique style and approach that was a fusion of old-school IRT roots with Brooklyn flourishes and New Wave accents. The XMEN emphasized strong, distinctive hand style, well executed throw-ups and soft letter pieces, along with selective burners. The XMEN also emphasized a strong City-wide street bomb to supplement their transit bomb. Unlike many writers who hit their own neighborhoods, the XMEN not only thoroughly blanketed South Brooklyn, but bombed any neighborhood they passed through, along with strategically hitting many cement "permanent" spots on major subway stations and highly visible public spaces throughout the City.
The XMEN were a very tight knit crew and this all-out subway and street bomb effort lead to a lot of confusion among writers and others outside of the XMEN circle since the XMEN appeared to be from everywhere and hardly anybody knew anything about them. Adding to this all-out city-wide subway and street assault were the efforts of newer XMEN members TESS 1 and DJ NO who, along with a strong presence on INDs and BMTs, also attracted the media's attention with their highly successful mixed-media wheat poster and sticker campaign in Manhattan. This was all well before the efforts of Cost and Revs. As the XMEN bombed and partied, they grew in stature, membership, and popularity. XMEN membership now included KEO 1, WEST 1, ANGEL DUSTER (RIP), SEE 1, TORO, BALE, DEEN, the original SON 1 from the early '70s, and CESAR, among others. XMEN membership was not limited to males and included female writers like LADY 180, PAM 1, and MS 45 among others. The XMEN added INDs and BMTs to their footprint in 1982 and went All-City from 1983-1984. The XMEN were also the last crew to go All-City as defined by having hit every line.
When the XMEN bombed INDS and BMTS in the early '80s, they did so in the face of the strongest buff ever. While other writers were trying to beat the buff with throw-ups that were easily removed by the MTA, the XMEN strategically chose to do a highly stylized punishing insides bomb with specially blended inks in custom-made super flooded markers with customized tips that withstood multiple buffing attempts. This ensured that their work would be seen barring the MTA completely re-painting the line. This approach was especially successful on the MTA's fleet of freshly painted white 7 trains. The white 7s were referred to as the "White elephants" and the MTA took strong measures to protect them from being hit. The XMEN were able to get around some of the MTA's security measures and totally demolish insides on the 7s along with doing several pieces-much to the chagrin of the MTA as they had to completely re-paint entire rows of trains. The XMEN quit transit writing in 1986 and many of them went on to successful careers in business, art, and medicine. Currently, KEO is involved with the graffiti gallery scene and has put together several shows, most notably the METALLURGY show of June 1999 which featured artists such as CHAIN 3, KEL 1st, JAMES TOP, PART 1, STAN 153. SOE and others. KEO was also instrumental in coordinating writers and gallery work for the Guernsey's Graffiti Auction of June 2000. To this day, XMEN work from the '80s can still be seen in parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx, and the mystery of "Who are the XMEN ?" still endures.
Additional X MEN include: OB, MR. BACARDI, PEM 1, BREEZE aka 2 BAD, DASH, PSYCHO, and RISK
Excerpt from SOE interview conducted 4/99 by ERIC aka DEAL
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