Struck down in his prime, Lamas is remembered by those who knew him best.
You could tell from the first moment you met Ernie how passionate he was about graffiti as well as art. He would draw whatever he wanted from scratch, from hundreds of different Lamas outlines to characters and portraits. In his last weeks he was going in hard: from the tracks to the streets, Lamas hollows to fills, marker tags to spray paint tags spread throughout Miami. All he wanted to do was make a name for himself in the Miami graffiti scene and he succeeded.
The Infamous remembers the great Kase 2, King of Style, by talking to some of those who knew him best.
I met Kase 2 back in early 1981. I went to junior high school with his cousin Hep, who introduced me to Kase 2 because he knew I was a graffiti writer. He said, “Hey, my cousin is a graffiti writer,” and I said, “Word? What’s his tag?” And Hep said “Kase 2, known as One-Arm Kase!” I said, “What? Get out of here, you lying. That’s one of my idols; I watch all of his burners roll by.” So he said, “You want to meet him? I’ll hook it up.” I said, “Hell, yeah!” So we met at the Writers Bench at 149th Street and Grand Concourse, where all the graffiti writers went to trade blackbooks and watch their burners, bombs and inside tagging roll by, to see who just did the newest burner or whole car – it was like a museum for us. Going there was pretty dangerous ‘cause other writers would rob you or “vamp” you… unless you knew someone or were well respected like Kase 2.
Span MIC was a Philly punchline professional and spot-selection specialist. The kid who rocked mega-hard and initiated the caucasian slime wave left us too soon, but left a lot of perm spots to keep his memory rocking.
Text by Liquid
Photography by Dominic DiGiorgio
Writers write for numerous reasons. Whether it’s fame, reputation or recognition, an outlet for frustration or just a voice that wants to be heard and remembered. Well, anyone that has ever crossed paths with Jon Evans III will always remember that encounter. Span was a 5th Street prodigy. He was always quick to point out his influences from that numbered street that cut through Philadelphia with such raw elegance and flavor. He would rattle off names like Far, Boza, Kad and Bronco like he was a little league rookie dropping names from his treasured baseball card collection.
Anyone can write their name on a wall at the drop of a dime, but a key element to graffiti is spot selection. Its 7:00 a.m. and you are on your way to a job you hate and you pull up to a red light. You stop and fumble with your go to tape or cd and what catches your eye, a carefully placed tag on a skinny, rusted metal pole. Knowing when and how to write your name is nothing compared to knowing where to write your name. Span would meticulously pick spots for weeks just to place one Wite-Out-pen tag. He knew every junkies route to cop, he knew where his on-again-off-again girlfriend would be traveling on the daily. He took advantage of his obsession and made good.
Span would creep up to the most crowded, spot-jocked wall, and find the most righteous nook to write his name. Of course, there would be a cloud surrounding his name to ensure his name was separated from the rest. His punchlines were confusing to the unworthy yet understood by those who really knew and respected what he was all about.
I never knew Span’s government name until that day that he died. He liked it that way. He was drawn towards being infamous yet being known at the same time. He spoke with a whirlwind speech that was a blend of the most dusted-out Ghostface verse and a shy kid who just wanted to fit in with the cool crowd in school. We were friends, we were enemies. I will never forget him. Shit, in my own bizarro brain, I don’t believe he is dead. I really wouldn’t be shocked if he showed up at my door tomorrow on a Vespa Scooter wearing a turban ready to route.
To know him was to love him, or hate him, to think of him as the life of the party, or a shy and quiet guy – a talented, sensitive artist or a gassed-up dick. And you know what, whatever your opinion – probably well founded, didn’t matter anyway – Joey didn’t give a shit.
Text by Gladys “The Baddest” Night
He’d show up at a party in a cool downtown club, wearing ill-fitting sweatpants (the gym uniform for the elementary Catholic school where his mother worked) and his crusty work boots; crusty with well earned miles of curiosity and adventure. Semz was determined never to be just another worker bee–helping to build the American hive – and he wasn’t. He was an exotic flower that made people take notice and form opinions, one way or another.