Back To Interviews Archive The Hip-Hop Headrush

Character/lettering combination

MD: Graffiti is seen by many people as just one element of Hip-Hop culture, however some graffiti artists treat it as a separate thing and try to distance it from the rest of Hip-Hop. How do you see it all relating?

Patch 1: Graffiti is definitely part of Hip-Hop. You can't mess with that. It's one of the aspects of an overall style. Whether you like it or not we belong to something, we represent something - an attitude. I'll do my artwork for anyone but graffiti came from Hip-Hop culture where you represent the DJ, the MC's, the music, the neighbourhood, your friends, and together it becomes something else. We're the representation of what is happening now, on the street.

MD: How does it make you feel when you consider that everything started out more or less on the same level, but these days the rap music side of Hip-Hop has pretty much eclipsed everything else?

Patch 1: It doesn't bother me. Why should it? We're all in it for the fame.

MD: But what about rap artists who don't even acknowledge graffiti anymore?

Patch 1: Fuck 'em, I don't give a shit. I don't have to piece for you, you don't have to rap for me! How many of these rap artists know how to break? What is rap and what is Hip-Hop? They're different things - rap is making money, Hip-Hop is... skill.

MD: I know a lot of graffiti artists rely on it to provide them with an income and you yourself do pieces for money as well as the pieces you do for yourself. When you get paid, is what you produce still coming from within yourself or is it different now that you've got someone else telling you what to do?

Patch 1: It's a job, someone says "paint that" and you paint it. But what can you do? You charge them extra, get some free paint for yourself and take that and go on the street and paint. The job pays for the street. You've got no choice - it's the only way to go about doing it. You can't have one without the other unless you steal the paint which is what happens in Europe and America. Here if you steal from a company and get caught by a security guard - they fuck you up. Joburg is not like Cape Town - it's easy to piece a train there - try piece a train in Braamfontein yard in Joburg and they'll shoot you. It's been that way since I was 15, that's why there are no trains getting pieced up in Joburg. You can maybe get away with a dub here and there, but I'd really rather do walls. You got to establish what you are as a graf artist. I'm essentially a wall artist and people can either dis me or respect me for that.

MD: So who pays you to do pieces?

Patch 1: Clubs, companies. When it comes to that we're all in competition out there and are looking for the people who will pay us the most, and we still got to we keep what we can in terms of self-respect. Joburg is pretty much untapped - that's why Gogga is up here. You can make a good living from it and just as easily make a shit living from it. 6 months will go bad, 3 months will go good.

TAP Piece

MD: For it to be graffiti, does it have to be done using aerosol cans?

Patch 1: Yeah. There' no half stepping. There should be no masking and definitely no air gun work. Nothing apart from the can in your hand. Some of my lines are thin, some are fat, some are good, some are bad, but they all come from a can. There's no lying or cheating involved. To get that without a can is easy. There are different mediums to do that - don't get them confused. Generally we just use one type of nozzle here which is a real good challenge, 'cos other nozzles don't fit South African cans. You then go overseas and work with a multi-nozzle can and you can go wild which is great, but at the same time it does limit us over here a bit.

MD: Do you see yourself doing this for the rest of your life?

Patch 1: (hesitates) No. another 5 years and then I might move into doing graffiti tattoos.

MD: Do you think graffiti is still going to be around in 2010?

Patch 1: Yeah, because it's anarchistic. It's about us and not about them. Everyone can paint. We're about teaching the styles to the youth and showing them that they can get out there and put something up on a wall, whether anyone else likes it or not.


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