Miami Graffiti

July 2009
1) What do you write and what crews do you represent?

Hec A5 and MOB crews. (My first 2 years I wrote 4cast with TWB crew, but that was mostly my bomber phase before I started doing actual pieces)

2) Where did you get your tag? Any special meaning behind it?

I went through quite a few names in the early days but then settled on "4cast". I came up with it because I liked starting a tag with a numeral. I also liked that it was a cool way of spelling forecast, which to me meant: This is just my bombing name for now, but I was practicing at home filling books up and so my name was forecasting what would come later... pieces. By the time I felt good enough to do pieces, 4cast was such a heat up (even the store owners around my area where looking for 4cast). So I decided to change my name to Hec and converted TWB (Together We Bomb) into MOB (Masters of Bombing).

3) When did you start writing and what were some of your early influences?

I started in 1983, but a little context is really in order here. You have to imagine the world of 1983, Imagine how hard it was for the scene to get going in those early days. No cell phones, no internet sites like this to learn from, etc. We're talking before Subway Art and even before Style Wars! If the graff scene in New York could have been best described as an infant scene, then the Miami scene was an embryo or in other words, barely there. Graffiti was still a little known branch of this new amazing thing called Hip Hop, which was itself still foreign to the general public, the term Rap had barely entered the American subconscious. Back then we were still mostly breakers. Kangols, Gazelles, Turtle Shells and Boom Boxes ruled the day. So when I say I started writing back in 83, I mean this was the time I started seeing myself more and more as a writer too, not just a B-Boy.

My only mode of transportation then was my bicycle. As such my earliest influences we're limited to my immediate surroundings (Westchester). There were a few tags showing up here and there, for the most part Graff was still in school notebooks, not walls. Within a few months you started seeing some pieces appear, bubble letters with two or three colors at most, or sometimes not even filled in. Also some characters we're starting to appear, they we're always B-Boys with huge shades and even bigger pumas. It seemed like everyone was tagging "ace" or "kid fresh", or some other lame thing. It was still the "dark ages" and so things we're still relatively primitive. One day there was a huge buzz at school, everyone was talking about this mind blowing documentary that had been on TV(PBS) the night before. Most of us hadn't seen it yet, but as the home made video recordings of this movie (Style Wars) started to get around, it changed the level of the stuff on the walls around town almost overnight and it went on to change the course of many of our lives too.

One day walking home from school I was shaken to my core by a brand new Speck (ATA) piece on a rooftop behind a shopping center on Coral Way. It was not a big deal by today's standards at all, but to me it looked amazing. There were already a few (very few) other pieces in The Penit, but I think this was the piece that most influenced my early years because I saw it every single day walking home from school and I couldn't ignore it. This was the time I really started to get the fever. I thought to myself "If a kid in this neighborhood did this, why can't I?" I also had the personal realization that rooftops were a fairly safe way for me to tackle a wall at my own pace and not worry too much about the cops. I did at least 6 of these anonymous rooftop rehearsal pieces before I had the balls to start sharing my stuff with the world. I also have to give a quick mention: Sar and Senik (A5) as key influences for me. Because the three of us were best friends and pretty much a unit so there was always a competitive environment between us three that made us all get better.

No conversation about the early days of Graff in Miami is complete without mentioning the Beat Club (Bird Road & 97th Ave). A lot has been said of The Penit here, but surprisingly little about The Beat. It would not be an over statement to say that was the birthplace of Miami's Hip Hop scene. There was a dope piece by Glove inside the bathroom, that bathroom was by far the most densely bombed place in all of South Florida; walls, ceilings, mirrors, totally wrecked. Friday nights were a ritual there, writers from as far as Hialeah and Homestead would congregate and bust out their new jacket pieces (does anyone still remember the pieces on the back of jean jackets?). We would sign each other's books and start to network with each other. It was there that oldschool crews like ATA met and were formed. Each Friday we looked forward to discovering new underground artists like T La Rock, Mantronix, and RUN DMC. Yes, they played there, to a crowd of 200 of us wide eyed kids before they ever released an album. They also had a graff competition there back in the early 80's. It was stuff on paper, not actual pieces on the walls. I remember Sar was really pissed at Senik for not clapping/cheering loud enough for his piece, since the crowd was judging.

By the time Subway Art came out in 1984, the Graff scene in Miami had grown into its own independent sub-culture. We had our blueprint (Style Wars), our bible (Subway Art), our club (The Beat) and our church (The Penit). This was my world in the early 1980's, it was truly Hip Hop Heaven.

4) What was your favorite Penit/Wall/Spot and why?

Well I'm tempted to say The Wall of Fame on Coral Way near 97th Ave, mainly because, though only a few people know, I was the one who started that wall. But the truth is: nothing even came close to the power of the original Penit, The Fountainbleau Penit. My little wall of fame did eventually grow beyond my wildest expectations and I'm really proud of that, but that came much later. The Penit was huge, MASSIVE really, and it was almost like it had been designed as a Graff gallery. One huge wall after the next, with a huge opening across from it for light. There was no other place like it in all of South Florida, so it attracted people from far and wide. You went there knowing you were going to meet other writers. It offered everything a kid my age wanted at the time: adventure, a cool underground scene, and a shot at fame. I was hooked immediately.

5) Is there any crazy story that sticks out in your mind from days at that Spot?

I remember one time I went there with Sar (He did his first piece that day) and Senik. There were at least 40 other writers there that day. There were like 8 pieces being done at the same time on different floors, the energy was simply amazing. I don't remember a lot of specifics about that day, but I just recall this feeling of pure joy, going from floor to floor looking at pieces, meeting new writers, smelling all the aerosol fumes and realizing that this new scene was about to explode. That day was pure magic.

There was another time we (A5) were supposed to meet VO5 there to throw down because Seam had toyed a small A5 we had done. He wrote "punk biters" over it because they were the first to have a 5 in their name (crazy teenager logic I know, but we WERE teenagers!). We called them up and set up this ridiculous duel to the death kind of scenario that we were suppose to go at it "The Warriors" style until there was one last man standing. Being kids from Westchester, we showed up empty handed thinking it was a fist fight thing and we waited around for hours discussing our options and fighting strategies. We eventually got restless and hungry and walked across the street to the Circle K that used to be there. Just as we were coming out, we see a car pull up across the street with a bunch of scary hardcore dudes yielding machetes, bats and other instruments of urban warfare. We quickly decided that this fighting idea was a lot better in theory, and it was probably best to call it a day. Ironically, one of the things we were talking about while we waited for them is how fresh their hand styles were. We later came to our senses of course and became good friends with them, even going out and bombing together. I suspect that the truth is that there was a lot of mutual respect between our crews. We thought we were supposed to put up a hard front, but we always thought very highly of Seam's skills. I'm pretty sure he also had a lot of respect for Sar's talent and he recently told me I was a big influence on him as well.

There was the fight between Senik and Zee that lasted for literally like over an hour... but that's a story for another time.

6) Name a Miami writers work that you respect a lot (thats not in your crew/associated crews) and why?

Well naming just one writer is impossible for me because there are and have been so many people who's work I have admired over the years. Starting with the 80's, the guys from ATA were all really good: Speck, Scan R.I.P., Reel (now Sae) and Dazz. They didn't do that many pieces, as a result they are very under rated in my opinion, but their books were legendary. They were super organized too. They would reserve the conference room at the public library and have regular meetings there. I got invited to a couple of their meetings and it was a really eye opening experience.

Seam's whole wall burners got a lot of respect all around Miami in those early years. Ease must be mentioned because he has collaborated with so many, and has taken the Graff culture to new arenas and audiences worldwide. Even though he is massively talented and successful with his painting, you will not find a more genuine, generous and humble guy. Gotta give Edec props too for starting the infamous Inkheads Crew. I also want to give respect to people like Seel and for being faithful custodians of our common Miami graff history. There are many other writers who's work and dedication I respect like Freek, Dekay, Krave, Ultra, Dash, Shie, Jel, and more.

I'm more ignorant of the newer guys so I'll just mention two: Atomik because he is just so damn prolific and dedicated to the lifestyle. Very few of us are traveling the world hitting trains in Europe, so to me he's like the quintessential Graff writer. And finally Typoe, because he has some of the most original stuff that I've seen out there. I could go on and on, but I'll finish by saying that I respect all writers in general because it's not easy work. Long before you ever get any fame you spend hundreds of hours being chased, getting sunburned and dehydrated, risking arrest and inhaling toxic fumes. There are no shortcuts in this game, being a writer takes a kind of obsessive dedication and a love for painting that you just can't fake.

7) Any good stories about a time you got chased or busted?

One time I had the bright idea of doing a piece facing Coral Way. I wasn't there two minutes before an unmarked car pulled up to the sidewalk and a cop jumped out like a freakin gladiator. I started running as hard as I could through backyards and stuff, but eventually I got winded and had to start walking. The cop had gone back to his car and caught up to me and pulled up onto the lawn where I was walking. He got out and tackled me to the ground like Chuck Norris. He stood over me with his foot on my chest, pointing a gun at my face. His face was beet red and he was acting really erratic, so I decided to start playing innocent or I might end up with a hole in my forehead. He said "Have you ever been to NYC and seen how ugly the graffiti is there?", I told him no (lie), that I was just doing this because my friends told me it was cool. Eventually he chilled out and his wife came out of the passenger side and said "Let him go honey, he learned his lesson." I got lucky because he was with his wife and she didn't want him to waste their weekend time on me. I went back that night and decided to make it a throwie instead.

8) Advice for Toys? What are some of the problems with them nowadays?

Forgive them, for they know not what they do.

My view on the subject might surprise some. I have to blame myself and all the other older guys for not leading the way and teaching the younger generations the rules of this game. I think us older writers need to accept a greater degree of responsibility to educate and communicate, not just with the new kids coming into this lifestyle, but also with the public at large. I'm working towards that goal right now. I'm creating (with help from other old schoolers) an online document that I hope will eventually be translated into every language and be a blueprint for future generations to ensure this movement lives on long after we're gone. The document will be at (Check back there for updates down the road on this important project.)

9) You are one of the oldest writers we've interviewed for the site yet, how is the scene different today? What do you miss most from the scene of 25 years ago?

Well what I miss the most is my youth! Ok, seriously, back then the scene was a lot smaller and so we had a lot more autonomy. We could work on pieces and we were mostly left alone, most people didn't really know what it was we were doing. You made an outline at home, "collected" cans, and took it to the wall. There were no fat caps, no thin caps, no specific products or websites for writers. The public at large was largely ignorant about us and did not have a negative attitude towards us yet. I guess I sometimes miss the simplicity and innocence of that long gone era.

10) What do you think of the Graf Scene in South Florida and Where do you think its headed?

It's truly amazing to see how it has grown and evolved. I'm totally in awe of the stuff being done today. There's no question that the bar keeps being raised and that's a good thing. Still I think the scene has the potential for an even brighter future. The key is to keep the static between crews to a minimum. People in and out of the scene need to understand once and for all that the graff lifestyle isn't, and never was, about gangs or violence. Another important aspect is educating younger writers to what's ok and what's not ok to bomb. Certain practices, such as bombing overhanging expressway signs, have become too problematic and I think we're long overdue for a new set of guidelines to attempt to co-exist with the general public. Not just in South Florida, but in a global sense, or I fear this art form could eventually die. Please don't take this to mean I feel pessimistic about what people are doing now. I just want to do my part to help it grow in a responsible and sustainable way. Based on the progress and changes I have witnessed in the last 25 years, I have a very optimistic outlook indeed.

Much respect to all Miami Writers and Crews... Here's to the next 25 years!

Some flicks courtesy of Hec:

Kingz by Hec, His first piece at The Penit, 1984-1985. Please submit a non-toyed version if you have.

Rocken by Hec, First piece on the Coral Way Wall of Fame, 1986. Unfinished.

Fuck'Em by Hec, Sketch Book, 1986.

DOMOB by Hec, Ease, and Jes. Coral Way Wall of Fame, 1987.

Mez Oner by Em Cee Hec Ser, Coral Way Wall of Fame, Mid-1980's.

Hec sketch for Fight Club 2009. (Only ended up using the H)