Legend Spotlight: Cab Cab Cab Cab Cab Cab Cab Cab
Interview by Gabe the Saint
50mm Staff Writer
Somebody once said: "Old Legends never die." Well, I have
something to add to that statement: "They just keep killing shit."
When people talk about the golden years of Los Angeles graffiti a lot of
names cross the lips and a lot of arguments immediately begin about when
exactly those years were. But there is always a certain hushed tone of
voice that conveys the respect and admiration reserved for this city's truest
of bombers... one of which is quietly and methodically doing what he has
Cab and I met up on the East side of Downtown Los Angeles. We talked
about life, work and his daily routine. But when we started talking about
bombing his body language and demeanor immediately changed. It seemed
like a wave of electricity went through his body. I heard the intensity and joy
in his voice and I saw the fire of a true LA bomber in his eyes. Minutes later
he pulled out three large photo albums filled with flicks - which not
surprisingly, contained mostly recent work. As we browsed through
his photo collection, we reminisced about the old days. I mentioned to him
that when I was a kid I came across one of his bombs for the first time in the
Panic Zone near the Ramona Gardens Projects. It was a throw up that read
Caber, but for some reason it was unfinished. I found out Hazard had chased
him away. In his humble ways, Cab revealed to me his true thoughts about
Graff and his journey to the top, again"¦
GTS: How did you get the name Cab?
Cab: The name was given to me by a guy that wrote Key from F.B. and
M.A.K, which was in late 1988, early 1989. He gave me two names at the
time. One was gunner and the other one was Cab. He also gave me a set of
throw ups for each one, which I thought were real fresh. I remember Key
telling me, "This is what fits you; you are young and full of energy. Some day
you are going to blow up." I was like fuck yeah, this is it. "It's time to get these
names up, I need to rack some paint and start bombing right away." Before
that I was only tagging on buses, alleys, benches and other small and
insignificant spots. Now I knew I had to go big time by bombing all around the
city. I knew that if I did it right I would get noticed. So that is the story behind
GTS: What does the title "All City" mean to you as a graffiti writer?
Cab: It depends what we are talking about. If you are talking about L.A., then
it's all of L.A. County. That is a shit load and if you hit all of L.A. County, then
you're getting mad props, mad respect. That's what all city is to me. It's a
term that is played out. It's used too much. To me there are only a few guys
that I can vouch for, and say they are all city that have earned that title and
have maintained it. They know who they are. I remember hitting the four
corners of Los Angeles County, but I never called my self all city because I
did not maintain it. I also believe that you should not give yourself a title
unless your peers and the Graff community do so. Power once deemed me
the king of throw ups and that was something that he thought of, not me.
"I just go out and do my thing. I don't go out and express my self and tell
people who I am simply because what we do is a crime."
GTS: What was your first writing name?
Cab: My first writing name was Raven back in 1986, in the era when
breaking and hip hop was getting big. I tagged it around my neighborhood,
but I never made it my official name, I never told anyone.
GTS: Do you still keep to yourself about what you write?
Cab: Yeah, I am a quiet guy... I just go out and do my thing. I don't go out and
express my self and tell people who I am simply because what we do is a
crime. Bombing is crime. We go out and destroy peoples' walls and other
property so you have to be very careful about what you say in public.
Somebody might have it out for you. You have to stay as low-pro as
possible, you have to keep your identity as tight as possible.
GTS: I ask because writers today are like celebrities, it's like being a rock
star. Before it was fundamental in Graff to be incognito.
Cab: Now its blown up. Before I used to look up to writers like Skept, Gin,
and Chase; who by the way is one of my all time favorite writers. I would see
them up and wonder who these guys were. Skept was up mad in downtown,
especially with all of the throw-ups on Broadway. It was always a big mystery
to me and I wanted to be like them.
GTS: Graff has definitely lost that component of mystery, which made it more
appealing to us.
Cab: Absolutely, now there are many big shows, unlike back then when there
were a few, real low pro events. The general public was not really welcome.
Now you have detectives that go to these shows and gather information on
people that are smashing shit. It's dangerous. Not to mention the younger
writers that drop dimes, it is very dangerous.
GTS: What do you think about corporations making money off Graff,
especially for people like you that put in so much work?
Cab: Well, there is nothing really that we can do about it. It's everywhere,
they just take it. They use graffiti to make their products looks "ghetto." They
go into areas with Graff, set up and film your stuff and they change it up. That
pisses me off. For example, one time at Belmont they were filming a movie
and they asked me to do some work for them on the set. When the movie
was filmed they changed my letters around so they wouldn't read Cab and I
would not be able to sue them.
GTS: You've been bombing for almost twenty years. Not many people can
say that. What a lot of people DO say is that it was easier back then than it is
now"¦ What do you think?
Cab: Now there are more people doing this graffiti thing. It so blown up that it
creates problems for people that are bombing because they burn supply
spots and they burn spots on the street. It burns the whole scene period.
Doing Graff is very difficult to do nowadays. When you're out you have to be
watching your ass constantly because everyone is hip to it. There have
always been obstacles, and now you have the G.H.O.S.T. Team. You don't
know who they are. They can be in a taxi cab, or they can be a bum sleeping
under the freeway bridge staking out the spot and waiting for you. It's a very
risky game. Back in the day there weren't that many bombers, especially on
the freeways. People were not really looking out for us. Most writers were
hitting yards, and landmarks on the surface streets. There were no gates, no
barb wired fences. Every place I hit was a walk in special. So yeah, it was
much easier back then.
GTS: What goes through your mind as you are about to hit a spot?
Cab: Nerves man, nerves and then the adrenaline kicks in. It's just one of
those things were you have to go balls out and not really think about
anything. No matter how much of a man you think you are, you start thinking
about risking your ass; you're risking your life. I begin to think about falling
from the bridge, slipping from the pole, dropping into the freeway from the top
of a heaven or what ever it is I am doing. There is no security"¦ there is no
guarantee that I will be back home that night.
GTS: So it's your safety that you think about and not about getting caught?
Cab: Nah man, I am not afraid of getting busted. It is no big thing to me
because I have already done time. Well, getting processed really gets to me.
GTS: Let's talk about hitting murals. Murals have always been hit because
they are accessible to the public, but now they are getting literally destroyed.
What do you think about that?
Cab: I'll give you my opinion as an artist. Murals are off limits. I don't care
who it is, you have to respect a mural. It's similar to the art that we do. If you
go out and do a piece or a bomb and some fool comes by and caps it or tags
on it your going to get mad right? Especially something that is so intricate and
has a religious or cultural meaning behind it. You cannot hit something like
that. To me it's bullshit and I do not understand what the hell these guys are
thinking, whether it's the young writers or the older writers. Come on guys!
It's like hitting schools and churches. That is why Graffiti has such a negative
image in L.A. There are plenty of other walls on the freeway, the river, or
yards around to hit. It is an issue that has to be dealt with for sure.
GTS: What do you hate the most about graff?
Cab: Again, there is no respect. People don't seem to understand the word
respect. Back in the day there was slashing and you would slash them back
or battle, but now there is much more bullshit that comes with having beef.
Scribbling on my bombs that took my hard work really pisses me off, too
"In order to pay rent and to survive she bought me a taxi driver's license and
that is what I did to survive, drive a cab."
GTS: You were gone for several years, where you painting elsewhere or just
taking a break?
Cab: Negative circumstances forced me to leave for a while. I was doing real
badly in L.A. I was getting in trouble too much with the law and I "m not talking
about Graff related stuff. I am talking about substance abuse and shit like
that. I went through rehab. It became so bad for me in L.A. that I moved
south to T.J. to get help. While I was there in rehab, I lived with a lady that
owned four taxi cabs. In order to pay rent and to survive she bought me a
taxi driver's license and that is what I did to survive, drive a cab. Let me tell
you I have been to hell and back man. I did paint in those years, but not like I
am painting now. I was hitting mostly freights.
GTS: What brought you back to painting with the intensity that you are
painting with now?
Cab: I am motivated by the scene, which is popping again. You have guys
doing fills on hot spots. There are pieces going up on spaces that you would
never think pieces would go up on. You have so much going on here in L.A.
that it gets me going. All I want to do is get out there and do my own thing and
show these youngsters that I am here to stay and I'll be here forever
GTS: So is art what you do for a living.
Cab: It's my hobby, I am an artist. I do canvas paintings and of course
graffiti. Aside from that I have my job, I have a trade. I went to school and I
studied. I did all the good things that mom and pops wanted me to do, but I
am still the bad boy that I was when I was five years old, a little fucking
GTS: So how do you choose the spots to hit? What is your philosophy on
Cab: I wish that I could bomb like I used to... I have to be very strategic about
it because I have many things to lose. I have to stake it out and plan what I
have to do. I bomb by myself. I don't have my homies standing there looking
out for me, so I have to do two things, which are looking out for the cops and
looking out for fools trying to roll up on me.
GTS: So once you see the spot you say fuck it that is what I want and then
Cab: That's it. I see it. I put in on my radar, lock in and hit it.
GTS: Who was your major influence?
Cab : I remember seeing writers on the street wearing low cut Dickies, Le
Tigre shirts, big fros with baseball caps mobbing in the day time, because
that is the way we used to do it. One of those guys I ran into was Sharde
from the Double Visions Crew and then there was Casie that lived close to
my pad. He took me to Belmont for the first time. I also remember them
piecing up the Zodies on first street and Saratoga in East Los. I remember
Orko, Blade, Scandal and Blast69 from the west side painting there. It was at
that spot where I first encountered true graffiti. It was also there where I was
introduced to Subway Art. The guy that showed me the book only showed
me one page because he said that I would bite, but I was a fucking kid and I
had no such intentions. I remember seeing the page with Seen across the
whole train. All of those colors"¦ I said to myself, "Damn that shit is dope." It
wasn't until many years later that I saw the whole book.
GTS: Can you talk about the early L.O.D. days?
Cab: Yeah, Sleez was a monster; he had downtown, the west side, and
Hollywood on lock. That fucker was up, I mean real up. I cannot say enough
about him. I met him in downtown actually one night when I was painting. He
approached me and hit me up. He said, "What do you write?" I replied, "Cab
one." And he said "I "m Sleez from L.O.D." And we shook hands. He asked
me what I was going to do the rest of the night and I told him nothing much,
so he asked me to go with him to Hollywood to kick it and smoke some bud.
It was cool because we just met and off we were to his hood to go party. We
were both writers doing and thinking about the same things so we clicked.
Then Chaka came around and in order for him to get into L.O.D. he had to
get up big time. We told him you got to get up fool and we are going to give
you two weeks to see what you can do. Immediately the dude went out,
racked lots of paint and the rest is history. After Chaka things blew up in L.A.
It spawned a wave of new writers.
GTS: Do you have any memories that really stand out about those days?
Cab. Well everything stands out to me. We did so many missions and
damage that most of it is a big blur and like I said earlier I went through ups
and downs with substance abuse and it is hard to remember things. It comes
back little by little when I sit down with the others that were there and talk
about it. But yeah everything I did back then is memorable to me, the
heavens, the freeways, the downtown missions, the beaches, and the river.
"I've put in too much work to quit now."
GTS: What will make you shelf the cans?
Cab: HMMM, that's a real good question. I don't really know, but I know that it
will not be any time soon. I wish that I could still smash shit like before, but
my life is much different now than it was. I am a father and have many
responsibilities, but many times I still don't give a fuck, I say fuck it and I get
out and smash that night. It satisfies me so much, and it is very gratifying to
see my shit running. Especially if it runs for more than one week. I"ve put in
too much work to quit now. As long as they make fucking spray paint I'll be
bombing and even then if they stop selling it I'll find it and if they stop making it
I'll do fucking brushwork. Graffiti is my life and it's a huge part of my life for
almost twenty years.
GTS: Well, I saved the fundamental for last. Why do you paint?
Cab: There are many reasons. When I was a kid it was for self expressions
and it was a fashion thing that was hip. I wanted to be part of the scene, and I
wanted to be noticed. I wanted to be apart from the rest of the people. And
yes, it boils down to fame and I like that shit. I like the gratification from doing
all of that work. I am very fortunate in getting away with all of that stuff. I have
done some dirt. I don't want to jinx myself, but I have been wise about it.
Many writers have gotten busted and have never experienced the game to
its fullest. Graffiti has always been in me, it has always felt like second
GTS: So you still get a high from getting away with bombing?
Cab: Fuck yeah, walking away from the wall or what ever it is. Being able to
walk away knowing that I am going to hit another spot is an instant high. I get
there, I do some damage and now I'm gone to the next rodeo.
GTS: It must be great to see your stuff running while driving to work the next
Cab: It's tight because there is lot of other tags and little things running and
there it is my fucking bomb, my throwie, or my piece filled in looking real
cherry. You know, looking solid not all this scribbled bullshit, done with paint
from the 99 cents store. I like painting big fucking letters, which are very
noticeable when driving by. They kind of just slap you in the face.
GTS: Any last words?
Cab: Mad props to everyone in L.A. that is doing stuff. I see a lot of fresh kids
doing good things. There are lots of knuckle heads out there, but they will
fade away. Peace to Sleez, Size, Shandu, Rick, Prime, Chaka, Make, Gin,
Duce, Clae, Haeler, Toomer, Colt45, Panic, Sharde, Blast69, Dusty U.A,
Relax, Skill, Snap, Sketch, Teler, Rayski, Unit, Cartoon K2S, Revok, Saber,
Skept, Tempt, Angst, Key, Larie and Keen I.T.S, Cash, Price, Hyde, Defer,
Eye, Wiley, Lest, Stans, Neo, Bash, Oiler, Script, and Casie.
GTS: Thanks for your time.