Sunday, March 27, 2011

Graffiti Vs Hip-Hop?...Not true!

Graffiti culture resonates at the roots of hip hop. The link between hip hop culture and graffiti occurs as early graffiti artists practised other aspects of hip hop and also because graffiti was practised in places where hip hop was evolving as an art form. A well-known graffiti artist HAZE created album covers for the Beastie Boys’ early albums and also worked with Chuck D from public enemy. The word graffiti originates from the Greek word ‘graphein’ which means to write. The word itself is a plural of the Italian word ‘graffito’. Graffiti is writing, tagging or aerosol art on a private or public surface which often makes it illegal. In 1971 the New York Times published the first article about graffiti. The article focused on the tags of Taki 183. A tag is a stylised signature. Taki was described as a bomber. This means that he was a type of graffiti writer who specialised in writing their name in as many places as possible. Taki is short for Demetaki which is another version of his Greek birth name Demetrius. He lived on 183rd street in Washington Heights which may explain his tag. He was the first New Yorker to become famous for writing graffiti. Other early graffiti artists include Top Cat, Cornbread and Tracy 168.  The graffiti documentary STYLE WARS was released in 1983. This introduced the mainstream public to hip hop graffiti.
The Manhattan Transit Authority claimed they spent equivalent to the domestic product of many Third World countries trying to stop graffiti artists on public transport. Gang members often used graffiti to communicate messages to their gangs and also outsiders. The greatest insult to a graffiti artist is if someone ‘slashes’ their work. Slash in this context means to put a line through or tag over someone’s tag.
Some scholars state that this is an art form and graffiti is similar to cave paintings or hieroglyphics. A message is being delivered and we need to interpret its symbolic meaning. Others see it as vandalism. Personally I admire the art of graffiti writing. Graffiti does symbolize our need as humans for communication, our need for meaning and it enables us to produce something which displays our existence is this crowded, busy world.  Graffiti can really bring to life dull or drab environments, it can brighten your journey on a tube or train. It can also beautify and alter our everyday surroundings unexpectedly and that I believe is the joy of graffiti.


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