Who were your first influences?
Once I saw Can Control magazine and Conart, I was hooked on CBS crew because of dudes like Mear, Circus, Rob*One, Mek and definitely Xpres. One of the first bombs I saw off the bus was a rooftop Xpres CBS did on PCH below the Palisades on the old boarded up hotel where they filmed "Commando" and across from where my uncle directed early episodes of "Baywatch". Later I met my first mentors Jigz and Mek over at our homies apartment that we all partied at in 10th grade on the border of Santa Monica and West LA. Who had a crib in 10th grade? lol Ryan's pad became the spot for all of us to drink 40's, avoid my abusive parents, freestyle, bring girls from the promenade and catch tags on his walls. It was a melting pot of young influencial talent with my best friends Sean , J'von ,and our first homies rap group the "Chain Smokers." They were dope because they were Mexican and Cuban and I really respected them because they chose Hip Hop over the gang lifestyle, I really admired that, talent first. They were calling up Power 106 winning the "Roll Call" rap battles on the Baka Boyz show and getting us tix to shows like Unity, Cypress Hill, House of Pain with Rage Against the Machine opening, Nas, Wu Tang, Beatnuts, Craig Mack with some dude opening we met rocking a Big ass Conart shirt performing his debut album and handing out his cassette single...Biggie Smalls. Gave me a pound and a hug. Anyhow these events opened us up to meeting producers like Mek who had freights in the Source and his best friend and DJ Rob*One. We would sneak into a club called Conga, now some lame spot called "Neat" but we'd roll in the back and see our other heroes Freestyle Fellowship with DJ Kiilu spinning and Cockni O'Dire etc. We'd take the posters and peel the promo stickers off the glass displays under the marquee, it was like collecting baseball cards all over again. The GOLDEN ERA of Hip Hop, it was heaven...don't pinch me. Anyhow I was just learning to paint because I was facsinated and Jigz would show me the ropes, take me to yards like Motor, Culver City overlook (abandoned Militray facility) and eventually Budweiser to paint freights. I learned to paint steel before walls. He took me to do my first WALL off Centinela and Olympic behind Range Rover and now Company 3 (where we onlined the CBS documentary with my right hand man Devin) and had to help me do my outline. I didn't have a crew so I wrote GW "Ghost Writers" next to my piece. True story. Mek eventually took us to meet Rob*One who was already a Hip Hop legend of graffiti and rap, Circus as well. They all had a group called the "Shape Shifters," who had a demo (rad) with a few other dope writers like Relm, Ser and Perk. I was awestruck, it took Rob four times to remember me at shows etc. but he saw my passion and drive and took me under his wing. We all started recording tracks with a dope ass MC from the Goodlife (open mic cafe' on Crenshaw) named Awol One, he always rocked that B Boy fishermans cap and had a raspy distinct voice and eventually all molded into the Shape Shifters. We started recording with "Of Mexican Descent" and one of my best friends "Emceye" RIP, and started dropping records outta my crib in the "Duke Alley" of Venice (that I still paint). Eventually Rob took me to a CBS meeting in 1997 and the rest is history.
Have you studied Art in any way, or did you pick it all up in the streets?
I don't consider myself an artist, I consider myself a Graffiti Artist. I do rap music, go bombing, write poetry, write scripts, screenplays, edit and graduated from film school in 2003. I definitely picked up graff on the streets.
Have you travelled much for Graffiti? If so where have you been and where is your favorite place to spraycation?
I've traveled the globe and make it a point to leave my mark where ever I travel. Cities/Countries like, SF, SD, Boston, Phoenix, KC, Minnesota, SLC, NYC, NJ, Portland, Kentucky, Canada, Mexico, Barcelona, Bangkok, Japan, Amsterdam, Colombia,Bucharest, Brazil, Malaga, Berlin, Portugal, Sac Town and all the way backdown. Etc
Does music play a role in your art? What’s in your headphones these days? tell us a little about your music history. Shapeshifters etc.
I really mostly listen to stations like KCRW, 88.5 (CSUN), new shit we've done with The Cloaks, Gel Roc, but besides the homies and Run The Jewels, Anderson Paak, Kendrick and a couple others, I'm not into rap anymore. I love going to the Santa Monica Pier concert series, festivals, Hollywood Bowl, shows all over LA (not this year, Covid 19), but mostly bands...and especially Pappy and Harriets. We recently got to perform at the Whisky on Sunset again after a 20 year hiatus...that was rad. I have a group with my Producer/rap partner and over all multi fasceted musician Avatar called "Speak Easy" and I asked him to compose the "Can't Be Stopped" documentary and OST which he did an INCREDIBLE job. He is also composing the new documentary I just shot in Japan.
How important is the legibility of letters?
Legibility really only matters bombing, otherwise your piece should be wild style and complicated. It's a secret language and code that shouldn't be deciphered too easily. Your girlfriend should be able to read the letters tho lol.
Are you a part of any art collectives, crews, or teams?
I'm from "Can't Be Stopped" crew L.A., MAYHEM from New Joisey, signed with Regime Management and Paradigm Talent Agency and Ouka Entertainment, rap with the Shape Shifters, Speak Easy and Ex Vandalz.
What do you think you are best known for, and how would you describe your style?
I think I'm known for making an incredible documentary called "Can't Be Stopped", for graff and yeah rap too.
Do you get involved with any other kind of art besides graffiti?
I'm mostly into film making and painting nowadays. I directed the "Can't Be Stopped" documentary and cut it with our team of Hash, Devin Horch, and now with our new producer Brian Greif. To set the record straight on it all because it's been a difficult road, to say the least (impossible to make everyone happy) it all began when Anger came up with the idea while "on vacation" and I was going to film school at CSUN from 2000-2003. I floated the idea of filming for a documentary to Exist's lil brother Bobby in 2002 to document me bombing in Portugal, he filmed it all and to return and start working on something. Never happened but I knew while in documentary class that one day I would bring it back to my Alma Mater (where the Fly ID show was). Anger started shooting interviews with our homie Jmar around 2009 when I was working in Post Production for WB and Fox (on shows my uncles were Producing/Directing). We did timelines etc. but I got too engulfed working 12-14 hours a day so they set out to film. Jmar shot about 7 -10 interviews including myself but Jmar got caught up with producing reality TV on the road. Fast forward a couple years to January 2011 after watching "Exit Through the Gift Shop" , I thought it didn't portray the strife and danger that we went through, it only showed the glory and success. It felt too vanilla too me. I got a fire up my ass and super influenced. I was also super frustrated with work, the politics, the red tape to get into Unions etc. so I asked Anger what was up with the CBS documentary and he said "nothing", so I asked to take the keys and let me run with it... December 2016 we had our premier in Westwood. April 2017 We won our first Award at a festival for Best Documentary and then traveled the West Coast, Canada and some of the Midwest screening the movie...our dream came true. Making a film (as Jaber knows) DIY takes a major financial toll especially when hiring lawyers, film fest submissions, EA insurance, renting out theaters etc. Finally we discovered an amazing management team and distribution company who is putting our movie out world wide, Netflix...all the trimmings, with one stipulation...let them produce and re-edit what is a niche film and make it for a broader audience. So I've been editing with their extremely professional producer diligently to get the best version of this movie out to the rest of the world. It's a process and although everyone is anxious, when it's all said and done hopefully everyone will be happy and I can break off our additional editors, sound mixer, GFX dude, composer, assistant editor, colorist, lawyer and AP. It takes a village!
What’s your favorite brand of spray paint to paint with and why? what is your thoughts on racking and how did that effect you as a youth? Like were you a racker back in the day?
Krylon...syke! It was hard as fuck using old spray paint brands, if you don't know, you just don't. I usually use Montana which is now available internationally. Countries like Brazil and Thailand used to have shitty hard on your fingers spray paint. Kids nowadays are spoiled.
I hated racking but would. I developed a bad habit with Anger and Noel of racking bottles of Patron on the nightly lol in the early 2000's. I had a horribly abusive step mom and father and was scared to get caught doing anything wrong as a kid, it meant a drugged out drunken beat down by both of them to get their agressions from each other out...hence kicking it at my friends places as much as possible. Now if I'm incovenienced I use my white priviledge LOL to the fullest and walk out with shit. Fuck off!
What are your favorite colors or are there colors you find yourself using often?
Pink...Hot Pink. Hence my friends calling it Bleek Pink.
What kind of nozzles do you tend to use?
NY Fats, bombing. The green caps (Montana Line 1 caps) for tight cuts.
Do you have a favorite marker? And why?
Mean streak. LA weapon of choice.
any decent chase stories?
Esel and I painting an old fuselage at LAX. Scary shit, cops patrolling the area every 2 minutes. Made it out safe. Also that one time w Mers pushing Rob over the gate at Budweiser when it got raided in like 1998.
Favorite surface to put your paint on and why?
Billboard face is so buttery and smooth!
How important is the “outline” in your process?
Say Your leaving the house for a night mission, what are you bringing?
Whatever Jaber tells me to bring.
If someone asked you why you write graffiti, what would your answer be?
Gave me self-recognition when there wasn't. No better feeling seeing your shit when it's done! especially off the freeway.
You have enough paint for one Burner or several throwies, how do you use the paint?
Burner, this ain't New York.
What kind of project gets you most excited (i.e. Legal walls, crew productions, wholecars, freight bombing)
I hate someone telling me how or where to paint. Bombing I can do whatever the fuck I want and get a million times more props.
In an age of social media, with cameras everywhere, and police using technology to crack down on graffiti artists, how do you feel about the importance of protecting your personal identity?
It's almost impossible to hide your identity now...that's why I paint in other countries more now.
Where do you think an artist should be able to paint in terms of street art or graffiti? What spaces are “off limits” to you?
I hate street art. At least I've seen Muck Rock paint billboards and gets spots, more than I can say for a lot of legal eagles out there. Skolar is doing the most! Love you homie...
I believe there's an integrity to graffiti, I cream over scribe spots but WILL NOT if it's clean. Never paint a clean untouched wall...ever.
What do you think of instagram and what impact has it had on you as a graffiti artist?
I enjoy the "instant" gratifacation and documentation after years of mailing photos to magazines and developing rolls of kodak film.
What is a trick you've picked up over the years that helps out your process?
What I learned from painting with Nace and Mear gave me all the cheats!
You’ve painted with a lot of talented people, are there any artists in particular you enjoy painting with and why?
I like painting with Nace (RIP), Jaber, Skolar, Never, Havoc, Dcypher, Biafra, Rought, Skegs, Plek, Clown, CHIP 7 the most! I love painting with outta town homies. I like painting with friends who make it enjoyable. It's a fucking hobby for christsakes!!!!! We ain't getting paid for this shit, rarely!
Is there anything, inside or outside the graffiti world, that you find really inspires your "style" or how you make your art?
The whole world inspires me. I just linked up with WA2 and Kazz from CBS Japan! They showered me with gifts! love ya!
Do you have any big projects we should be looking out for?
Wrapping up the CBS film for good! Just shot and am currently editing a new documentary about the re construction of Heijo Palace in Japan.
In interviews people always ask the artist ”Do you have any advice for the beginner?” Beyond the obvious response like “practice more” - What sage like wisdom can you offer the neophyte regarding the culture, codes and ethics, safety tips, tools and techniques, ect?
Learning is easy now, we only had magazines and watching dudes in the yards. I was always curious where it would go after the yards were gone but dudes and homegirls are taking to the streets...Especially for KOBE!
Do you have an opinion on the corona virus and the nationwide lock down? How will this effect your life and art interests?
Living was perfectly normal in Japan but coming home yesterday to a hot bed of paranoia and a moronic president makes me uneasy. Time to quarantine in an edit bay!
If someone wants to follow you or learn more about you, where should they look?
Bleek_CBS or cantbestoppedthemovie.com
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