Tuesday, September 2, 2008

WORDS WORDS WORD

I love graffiti talk. It rules. It's not about exclusivity 'cause anyone can pick up a copy of Subway Art and start talking about going all city. But still, talking to other graffiti writers in our language is sanctifying, so familiar. Like being lost in Pyongyang and finding an English-speaker. There's comfort in jargon.

Graffiti talk closely resembles hip hop talk but lots of hip hop heads don't know where top-to-bottom begins or ends, or that preferring Germans to New Yorks isn't as bad as it sounds, or that cutting lines have nothing to do with snorting yeyo in queue. If hip hop talk is English English, then graffiti talk is Cockney.

My favourite words are "toy" (inexperienced or incompetent), "rack" (steal), and "kill" (destroy). There are some local ones like "one-shot" that I learned in San Francisco in 1997, which Vancouver writers knew as "force field". Now the jargon is more widespread and interchangeable -- international due to videos and magazines and internet.

I speak graffiti or hip hop as often as I can, which is regrettably less and less nowadays. But I still drop the phrases once in a while with company who have no idea what the hell I'm saying. That usually happens during moments of excitement when I am not minding my speech. But throw me in the mix with graf heads and hip hop heads and we'll start blowin' up the spot with lingo. I'm no longer as heavily immersed in a graffiti or hip hop environment like I was in 1993, so when I speak the talk there's an unmistakable air of nostalgia. I still use archaic words like "represent". I don't even know if heads still represent or keep shit real nowadays. But I don't care -- I'll keep saying those words 'cause they come from a cherished time in my youth.

"Yo son, I peeped the burner you rocked. Shit is sick."
"Hey there man, I saw the high-quality painting you painted. The painting is great."

"Did you bomb with tags or throws?"
"Did you apply paint illegally with your signature or bigger letter forms that are often bubble-like and two colours?"

"Dude, this paint's wack. Mad thin and transparent."
"Chum, this paint is not good. It is very thin and transparent."

1: YO YO YO! (out of breath) Shit son... (catches breath) How'd you get out?...
2: (out of breath) Dude... (catches breath) ...the hole...
1: In the fence?
2: Word. You?
1: Son, I booked it. The bull was chasin' me between two lines -- you know they both ran, right?
2: The BN too?
1: Yeah, and the SP. Peep this yo: I got two lines running on both sides of me and I'm runnin' down waitin' for the line to end, bull's chasin' me...
2: Shit.
1: ...finally the BN ends so I hopped over and took off by the ravine. You?
2: I was doin' an end-to-end, yo...
1: Represent.
2: I just had to finish my 3D, rock a shine, some shout-outs... I was almost done, dude...
1: Word.
2: ...then the SP starts pullin' out and I see the toy cop runnin' at me...
1: He was with the bull.
2: Yeah, so I jetted down the hill, toy cop gaining on me...
1: Oh shit.
2: I lifted up the fence and kept runnin'. He stopped at the fence.
1: Oh snap.
2: Word.
1: Represent.
2: Shit was real, yo.
1: Mad real.
2: I don't even got no flicks of the piece!
1: Me neither.
2: Burner for real.
1: Your hand's bleeding.

1: HEY HEY HEY! (out of breath) Wow man... (catches breath) How'd you get out?...
2: (out of breath) Chum... (catches breath) ...the hole...
1: In the fence?
2: Yes. You?
1: Man, I ran very fast. The train yard worker was chasing me between two lines of trains -- you know they both ran, right?
2: The Burlington Northern too?
1: Yeah, and the Southern Pacific. Imagine hey: I had two lines of trains running on both sides of me and I'm running down waiting for the train line to end, train yard worker's chasing me...
2: Damn.
1: ...finally the Burlington Northern ends so I hopped over and took off by the ravine. You?
2: I was painting from one end of the train car to the other, hey...
1: Good for you.
2: I just had to finish my elements that give the illusion of three dimensions, apply some elements that give the illusion of shine, some acknowledgments... I was almost done, chum...
1: Yes.
2: ...then the Southern Pacific starts moving and I see the security guard running at me...
1: He was with the train yard worker.
2: Yeah, so I ran quickly down the hill, security guard gaining on me...
1: Frightening.
2: I lifted up the fence and kept running. He stopped at the fence.
1: Oh wow.
2: Exactly.
1: Good for you.
2: The situation was not fantasy, hey.
1: Very not fantasy.
2: I don't have any photographs of the painting!
1: Me neither.
2: The painting was very good and I'm not lying.
1: Your hand's bleeding.

A: Yo B, whatchusayin' 'bout the background?
B: I'm sayin' we should rock mad doo-dads.
A: Explosion of doo-dads?
B: Word.
A: Naw, that's wack. Too busy.
B: Whatchusayin'?
A: I'm gonna rock a wildstyle so I want a clean background.
B: But I'm gonna kick some simple old school shit.
A: How we gonna make this production if our pieces don't match?
B: Shit.
A: Shit yo.
B: I can do some characters...
A: Hype.
B: ...between our letters and both sides...
A: Aight aight...
B: Keep our 3Ds in the same direction, bust a -- what -- pink one-shot...
A: Ruff.
B: Arrows in Jungle Green.
A: You don't got Jungle Green.
B: I'm playin' ...rock some white I racked for highlights --
A: Naw, baby blue.
B: My fill-in's gonna be baby blue.
A: This production ain't gonna work.

A: Hey friend, what are your thoughts about the background?
B: I think we should incorporate lots of bits and pieces.
A: Explosion of bits and pieces?
B: Yes.
A: Naw, that's a bad idea. Too much stimulation.
B: What are you saying?
A: I'm gonna paint a complex formation of interlocking letters so I want an uncomplicated background.
B: But I'm gonna attempt some simple letters reminiscent of the Bronx in 1979.
A: How are we going to make this large-scale, comprehensive, collaborative painting if our paintings don't match?
B: Damn.
A: I know. Damn.
B: I can paint some images representing humans or animals...
A: Wonderful.
B: ...between our letters and both sides...
A: Alright alright...
B: Keep our elements that give the illusion of three dimensions in the same direction, in a fit of inspiration execute a -- what -- pink line around the letters that make the letters stand out from the background...
A: Excellent.
B: Arrow-like elements in a fabled shade of green paint that Krylon discontinued decades ago.
A: You don't have any fabled shade of green paint that Krylon discontinued decades ago.
B: I am kidding you ...apply some white paint I stole for accents --
A: Naw, baby blue.
B: The areas within my letter forms that constitute the majority of the letters' colour are gonna be baby blue.
A: This large-scale, comprehensive, collaborative painting ain't gonna work.

C: Oh word.
D: F'real.
C: Knowhamsayin'?
D: Word.
C: Knowhamsayin', he blessed the mic.
D: Killed it.
C: Straight dope, knawmean?
D: Represent.
C: He's the God.
D: I feel you.
C: Let's barbecue.

C: Oh wow.
D: Yes.
C: Know what I'm saying?
D: Yes.
C: Know what I'm saying? He was very good on the microphone.
D: Extremely good.
C: Unadulterated high quality, know what I mean?
D: I agree that he is high quality.
C: Rakim.
D: I agree wholeheartedly.
C: Let's barbecue.




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