STATEN ISLAND: RIME / TOPER
THE BRONX: WANE
Graffiti giants like Rime and Toper made Staten Island their stomping grounds during their New York City come up. And even if it is a place known for welcoming transitory residents (see some notable members of the infamous Wu-Tang Clan) or cats from Jersey— since the Bayonne Bridge connects to the Garden State— Staten Island breeds them hard. This is probably why powerhouses like Rime and Toper don’t find it too hard to “regulate” on walls and surfaces like they had to commandeer growing up writing together.
Mention the Bronx in a few places around the globe and you’re likely to get one of two responses from those that know— intrigue or dismay. Both stem from the same source, the borough’s infamy. Infamy for the sheer poverty that has historically plagued it, and ironically, created the conditions that birthed one of the most revered pockets of early, bourgeoning hip hop culture. Ask Wane COD and he’ll probably tell you firsthand what his esteemed borough meant to him and his style in the early ’80s, when he dived headfirst into the language that’s taken him around the world— graffiti.
Where Brooklyn at? Apparently everywhere and anywhere if you let ubiquitous cuts like The Notorious B.I.G.’s infamous “Madison
Square Garden Freestyle” call it— a staple at any hip hop party’s peak. Though the idea is more metaphoric than anything— being
everywhere at once really defies the laws of physics— Brooklyn sons like graffiti legend Chino BYI can testify to covering more County of Kings ground than most.
The “city that never sleeps” is comprised of five boroughs. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that doesn’t categorize Manhattan as the quintessential mainland— no matter what partialness to the others. The 13-mile stretch (length) is filled with more history, relics, and stories than most can imagine. The magic of the most hustle and bustle lays here.
Harlemite and native New Yorker Micah, of über-successful local lifestyle brand Only NY, knows this probably better than anyone. He cites the city’s unlimited sights, sounds, and pulses as the unlimited source of inspiration for his art. Well, that and his fondness for the tranquility of nature— the complete opposite of the urban jungle. This limbo or understanding of balance, if you will, is what best describes his art’s flow, a parallel to the city’s momentum and pace.
QUEENS: SMART CREW
The international soccer community is in a frenzy this summer thanks to the massive convergence taking place in Brazil. This means folks from different countries, cities, and boroughs even— all over the globe— are at attention and in grand hopes of their team’s road to victory. Queens, New York City isn’t immune to the highly contagious fever. Considering that the borough is a melting pot of soccer-loving ethnic communities like Colombians, Jamaicans, Mexicans, Germans and Greeks, among others, it certainly won’t be difficult to find locals gathered up at bars, restaurants, delis, or even in plain public, tuning in to the play-by-play of the latest match.
It was for this reason that the Queens-founded Smart Crew decided to make use of their special box truck canvas, provided by Nike NYC, to commemorate the spirit of the biggest soccer event on the planet. Formed circa 1997 by original members MEY, SYCO13, and LUK, the diverse squad has been gaining attention and strength since. They approach graffiti in a very collective and calculated manner that very much reflects, not only their name and iconic “S” with graduate cap emblem, but also the diverse unity found in soccer culture. The crew gets down like the teams get down!