The Infamous Archives: Issue 5

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Mad City

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Often left out of the history books, Madison, Wisc., has a rich, yet slept-on, graffiti history.

By Crimey, with help from Therok and Dusty Ass Task

Graffiti has always had a small presence in Madison, Wisc., since the early-80s due to its proximity to Chicago, as a home to a large university and as one of the original stops on the “Style Wars” movie tour. Around 1990 it really took shape when Rex DST, a Chicago/Milwaukee resident, moved here to do some of the first quality graffiti. Around the same time, in this small, hippy-filled Midwestern city, the crew TKE formed, which consisted of local writers Tense, Sip, and Focus, to name a few. Tense would eventually move to Oakland in 1993 and establish a solid connection with TDK.
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Robbo’s Return

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King Robbo of London launched his bombing comeback before his Banksy beef. Fellow London old-school legend Prime fills The Infamous in on some of the details.

Robbo WRH WD is one of the most famous writers in London’s storied graffiti history. He started bombing hard on the London Underground, or “Tube” in the mid-1980s with his partner, Doze. “They came on the scene in a really dramatic way,” says Prime, another pioneer of London graffiti and a longtime friend of Robbo’s. “If I remember there had been a bit of a lull in things but Robbo and Doze came out and went all city in this systematic way of going to every yard on each line an doing every train and making sure very train was done and there was a point where from one day to the next every train was done.” Before they were friends, Prime and Robbo were competitors. “It was respect straight away. You’re traveling to each line yourself and you want to go to the same yards and you see that they got there before you, that they’ve created a situation where they’ve just overwhelmed the scene.”
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Behind Enemy Lines: Rakan KMD

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The Infamous,

Keep up the good work, ya’ll magazines get love from everyone I show it to. Let me speak on the Philly tunnels for a minute.

To me the Market and Broad Street tunnels are like a museum. You have to really walk through them to see all the classic shit. You got stuff down there from the 70’s, 80’s and the 90’s that’s classic. I seen tags in these tunnels where dudes left the date and the year was “1974,” I wasn’t even born yet. When I was home I seen inexperienced, corny-ass dudes go over shit that’s older than them. Some of the legendary writers don’t have any tags left on the streets but they still have tags living in the tunnels. It’s crazy when I see people go over shit like that!
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Scared Crooked

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You’d think being caught in a West-Coast crossfire would make Enem ATP reconsider his graffiti habit. It didn’t.

Illustration by Akil Nuru

I almost shit a bone, homie jumped out a cab in Oakland, Cali, on 98th and Bancroft streets. I’ll never forget it: I was tagging these apartments. It must have been 1989 – my style was weak but I wanted to get up, not being from Cali and all. Anyway, the bol jumped out the cab screaming, “Now what, partna?!” I see about four dudes start to scramble but then out of nowhere the bols start shooting back with like three hammers. I’m in between this shit, like, what the fuck? So I get down under this car hoping they gonna stop but hell naw they busting their shit like it’s a tennis match. I’m thinkin’, fuck, I’m going to die tagging a whack building that ain’t even on a bus route. Then it just ends. I get up, everybody gone, but I can see the lights and hear the sirens. As they pull up I’m walking away. They glance at me but I think they knew I was just a pup out there, plus I looked like I seen a ghost. No doubt, it took me weeks to get up again and nowadays I don’t even flinch when I hear niggas busting their heat. I been scared crooked!
–Enem ATP
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Crimes of Fashion

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This is more than just ponies and vintage knits. This movement must be recognized for its contributions to hip-hop and style.

Text by Filadel Castro

Ralph Lauren’s Polo is arguably the most well-known American fashion brand ever. Did you ever wonder who gave this brand its major push and paved the way for an “urban streetwear market?” In 1988, New York’s most notorious boosting crews came together. Ralphies Kids and Polo U.S.A combined to form the most influential streetwear empire the world has ever seen: Lo Lifes.
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Totem: Purple-Light District

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Mr. Totem (TATS Cru, 3A, TGE, BurnUnit) and his color schemes take you on a tour of a world you never knew existed.

Colors… Well, look at it this way: I’m from Atlanta. From the very beginning of my career, we haven’t had the same things that the bigger cities have had – like interesting paint colors. We had old paint, yeah, but it was very rare, so the majority of my work was done with the classics: Rustoleum and Krylon.

Initially, I was a simple letter aficionado, with characters. It was like that in 1990 – Twist was doing his little characters in black and white and that was what we thought was fun then. So mainly it was black and white, red and white, etc. Also, I had to watch out which colors I painted with in my neighborhood for gang reasons.
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T-Bone: Suck Fundays

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A Sunday afternoon freight session for T-Bone and Icepick btm quickly turns into a cop chasing triathlon.

Illustration by Rain Vicious Styles

I’ve been chased a lot over the years, but one story that stands out is the time myself and Icepick BTM decided to do a freight spot in south Seattle on a Sunday afternoon a few years back. We chose a nice autorack towards the back side of the yard. We wanted to go big with our pieces since our supplies had been “sponsored” by Home Depot earlier that day.

The first bad sign was a security vehicle that began heading our way. We grabbed our paint and ran to the end of the line to wait them out. For whatever reason we did not view that as a sign to leave the yard. We went back and began painting again. This time I decided to get up on the hitch to scope every few minutes and make sure the coast was clear. I was all set to do the final outline when out of nowhere I hear a voice yell, “Freeze, motherfucker!” The cop actually said that it like that, but I wouldn’t have time to point out the fact that he sounded like an ‘80s cop character because when I looked up I saw him on the hitch pointing his gun right at my grill. That was my cue to run. Icepick was further down, but he put two and two together quick enough. I was doing my best Carl Lewis hoping that “Dirty Harry” wasn’t going to shoot me in the back.
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