Chor Boogie - Modern Hieroglyphics

Chor Boogie - Modern Hieroglyphics

April 12, 2020

What original drew you to Graffiti. How did you first become a graffiti artist?

FIRST OFF, I'm not a "G word" artist. I was subjected to that government term and used it a lot when I was introduced to this culture about 30 years ago, and then I was re-educated about the aerosol culture by PHASE2, VULCAN, and RIFF170. I would have to say PHASE2 originally inspired me to create when I first saw his work as a young Padawan. I was amazed and said I wanted to be like him, but with imagery/characters instead of letters. I saw the aqueducts of North County covered with all types of stuff back in the day, and one of them that stood out was a character artist by the name of COMA who was another inspiration to me and brother in arms. I also have to give it up to SAKÈ and QUAZAR for influencing me as well, when it comes to historical relevance and other brothers in arms in San Diego county.

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Being from Oceanside CA, “The last of the beach ghettos” the environment you started in was dynamically different from the spiritual imagery and energy that you express now. For those kids coming from rough places, would you please take some time to explain who you started this journey as?

I started this journey as like anybody who grew up on the streets, that so called ''STREET LIFE.'' I was an avid player in the street game to the point where the streets swallowed me whole. That life is not a joke. We are talking about jails institutions and death, OH MY! It is nothing to glorify, but I had good times on the streets and bad times—so you could honestly say it was a balanced way of life. The streets almost killed me many times due to the choices I made, so in all honesty "the streets" is just an imaginary figure—and the true destroyer of self... is MYSELF. So I can not play the blame game and blame the streets for my actions. When it comes to being the product of an environment: If you think you cannot rise from dire straights, telling yourself that you will never leave the street life, then the streets will never leave you. That is just a limited mentality, and the mind knows what the mind grows. So focusing on your goals is a way to get away from that life. I was a criminal who did real crime, and when it comes to that G word, people act like thats a crime. I laugh and walk away because to me, it's a rush, and yes, you can get in trouble for it, but honestly the illegal aspect of this aerosol street culture wasn't my thing  since I was already doing dirt just for drugs. I was always about the art more than the laws. Don't get me wrong, I played a small part of that illegal aspect of the aerosol culture, but like I said "the streets will eat you whole."

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While surviving “the street life”, how did you come to turn your energy towards more positive things? Is it safe to say that someone who knew you in your teens, might not believe you would become this positive and successful?

Its HELLA safe to say that because some homies that have come up with me on those same streets, who have seen the worst of worst from me, have literally told me, "I never thought you were going to make it." What they meant by "making it" means that they never thought I was going to live past the age of 20. I SHOWED THEM because I showed myself. I got clean off of drugs at the age of 22 and escaped the grasp of prison by the skin of my teeth. Jail time was hell time, but I got sick and tired of being sick and tired. I started to change my life in a direction to something I knew was one of my greatest strengths, and that was ART—specifically with a spray can because as I was growing up on the streets the aerosol culture played a major part in developing my artistic skills. That "street life" just got to a point where I had to take a so called HIGHatus from painting for a couple of years, because I didn't want to disrespect the can anymore. As I changed my life, I picked the can back up, and from there the rest is history. I can honestly say that the aerosol culture saved my life and kept me out of trouble—along with self improvement as well. When it comes to the polarity of things, as you say "positive," I do not aim my perspective in those directions. There are many limitations perspectives with regards to positivity and negativity, so I invoke CREATIVITY to enhance the balance of things.

How did a kid from Cali come to meet a African Bwiti Shaman? For those of us who are a little less spiritual, can you explain how that impacted you, and why you might recommend it to someone?

As I said previously I got clean at the age of 22 and stayed clean for over a decade, and in that time I built up my art career to the point where I was traveling the world making, good money, and being invited to circles of fancy vampires. All of a sudden I had a drink in my hand along with a cigarette, then I relapsed when it graduated to much harder stuff. Before I knew it I was back on that rollercoaster on a downward spiral, still making money during this fiasco, which in turn was not helping. Groupies, money, dope, so called fame, world traveling, what more could you ask for?! At the same time I had a wife at home and found out I had a 15 year old SUN from a relationship I had when I was a kid. I had major life changing responsibilities, but I was also leading a double life. I couldn't take it any more, I came home from a business trip, coming down off drugs, and I couldn't hide it anymore. I let my wife know and scared the shit out of her. She was highly considering letting me go at this point, but something told her not to. Maybe it was when she started "talking to the trees" and the trees told her: IBOGA. Iboga is a plant medicine from the jungles of central west Africa. She gave me an ultimatum of getting clean—or get the fuck out. I think you know what I chose, but that addiction was trying to hold onto me strongly. I was actually considering just loosing it all and going down in flames, but then I thought about it. They have a saying in Narcotics Anonymous that usually when you relapse you end back up with old people places and things, and that shit literally happened and scared the shit out of me. So I chose IBOGA. Iboga has powerful properties that breaks the confines of addictions, mainly drug addictions. To be fair, I did hear about this medicine two years before that from a friend of mine that goes by the name EVOLVE, but I was not ready at that time, nor did we have the wisdom of the Bwiti tradition to support us then, which I now know has been critical to my results. My wife, Elizabeth, mainly did the research, and we stumbled upon a seasoned African Bwiti Nganga (shaman). When I heard him speak, I could relate to this guy and I was sold. From there we booked trips to Costa Rica and the rest is history. You can actually read about the experience in my wife's book, Heart Medicine: A True Love Story. Yes, the medicine is that profound that my wife wrote a book about it afterwards. I was scared out of my mind before I took the medicine, but once I did it, I thought, "what the fuck where you scared for?" The medicine helped me overcome my fears, and trust me, I'm not a fearful type of person. Then I realized that this medicine is bigger than an "addiction recovery" medicine. This medicine is a soul medicine, and soul healing is what we all need in order to break these self inflicted wounds. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IBOGA FOR THE WORLD, but only when you have a good source from good people, medical screening, and seriously skilled support—during and after.

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Did you study art anywhere or did you pick it all up in the streets?

SELF TAUGHT - technically from the streets

What steps did you personal take to help you go from starving "graffiti" artist to world renowned  and respected?

I stopped calling it that "G word." I was never really starving; I had slave jobs before my art career "took off." In all honesty HARD WORK is the major step you will have to endure while playing this game of chess on a roller coaster ride blindfolded in the rain that we call life, no matter what creative path you take in life. You have to look at how you are going to brand yourself and make a conscious decision if that's a path you want to take for the rest of your life, or be like me and create multiple brands. Brand is such a bullshit word, though I like Creative placement, because it leaves the doors open and is not that limited. I have CHORBOOGIE which holds the foundation to my art work along with the term MODERN HIEROGLYPHICS which comes from a crew from North County, San Diego that inspired me. I call my style and this entire culture "Modern Hieroglyphics" instead of that "G word," because technically that's what this culture is: letterforms, images, and symbolism on any surface. I have the BOOGIE BIRD GANG which is the simple side of what I do. I also have COLOR THERAPY that was inspired by my old studio mate VULCAN, as we were figuring out ways to coin this creative process of using lots of colors on the street. Once we built off the term Color Therapy and put it on the streets, that took off like wild fire and trust me you can see who it inspired around the world (but we do not get credit for that as certain individuals with these big social media accounts think they are the creators of using lots of colors on the streets). So be creative when it comes to your career, it only makes sense. You're an artist right? then use it. ORIGINALITY is another key to survival, and some people do not think so, but as you can see for yourself the sudden influx of non original artists in the market let alone the streets. So find who you truly are when it comes to your creative self—and run with that run with the thing that is going to separate you from the rest of the wolves.

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Making money from art is something a lot of graffiti artists never consider. Its not talked about very often, like some kind of punk rock taboo, but it's important that artists feed themselves and keep the lights on. Can you talk about the importance of having your artwork financed, and balancing that with the rebel soul of a street artist?

I have no shame in saying I've made money off my art and will continue to do so, but when you step into this arena, be prepared for that rollercoaster to make loop d loops and go all over the place even down spurts. I've seen fake humble mafuckas. This whole bragging rights has gotten out of control due to social media, and it's really more like self media, anti-social media, conceited self-centered media. You throw it all in a blender and you get a shitastrophy shake of mental issues, justified into our reality as "NORMAL". Don't get me wrong, Loving your self is amazing and to be literally CENTERED IN ONE'S SELF VS. BEING SELF CENTERED is the true way, but yet just a way. I use social media like the next person, but I have taken the red pill and the MATRIX is ultimately just illusion. I guess it's all in how you see and control the perspective of the matrix for yourself, hence feeding yourself and keeping the lights on.

Can you tell us what its like to be commissioned to paint for Jay Z and Wu Tang?

IT'S AMAZING! I have to say I've met some cool people in this industry—and some fuckers. Overall as long as I got paid for creating a masterpiece, that is good for me. I have painted some inspirational people, not just to me, but for the world. The WU was the most memorable one, because I was on stage with them in front of like 75k people. They called me front and center to the stage holding up my portrait of ODB right after he passed, and the crowd goes nuts. Then we broke into singing shimmy shimmy yah, and I felt like I was apart of the group for like 5 min...LoL.

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Your style is very non-traditional. When did you start breaking away from traditional graffiti lettering? Also, how would you define your style? We have noticed a fearless shift from extremely detailed to extremely simple, and an almost collage like quality to the different techniques implemented.

If you are referring to "non traditional" being that I do not do letters, you are correct. That doesn't mean I cannot do them, I just chose not to go down that path as everyone and their grandmother were doing letters. As far as traditional goes, "imagery" is probably the most traditional you can get—speaking from a classical art perspective. In that sense, I am actually very traditional. Aerosol, being only 50 years old or so, is a newer medium. I just chose to use a spray can which is my tool and communicate with imagery, symbols, and characters. Neo-colonial LABELS like the "G word" can be a hindrance to the aerosol culture. That being said, if we are artists—we should be able to choose what labels we want to be associated with. Utilizing the term MODERN HIEROGLYPHICS is a WAY for me, and if people want to recognize it, so be it. COLOR THERAPY is another way, yet just a way. Defining my style is like this: "THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE.'' That means one person with that one distinct style, so when they see it they say, "oh, that's a CHORBOOGIE." It's like the time when me and VULCAN were painting, and I was painting realism and Vulcan said, "Do you really want that to represent you?" I saw that he was testing me, and then I birthed my abstract collage faces with multiple colors, shapes, form, and balance. Now that is ORIGINALITY! We have a bunch of biting ass chompers out there that will take someone's concept and flip it and make it their own, and this is justified under the word "inspiration." I have to say, I have lots of children painting in the streets and on canvas that have made some extensive careers for themselves. I practice the balance of both detailed and simple painting simply because I have styles upon styles upon styles.

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Your art clearly has spiritual tones, this might be a little silly or hard to answer, but how do you access that? Do you have any personal disciplines or do you meditate?

Creating is my meditation. When I paint, that's when I go into myself the most and after that, birth a new creation.

With all that technique, you must be pretty specific with your tools. What’s your favorite spray paint and nozzles and why?

I use MTN 94 some Hardcore mainly, but I'm not picky. I use other brands, but very seldom. When it comes to the secrets of the skills, well that is something  you need to figure out on your own!

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You have evolved so much as a person and as an artist, do you still consider yourself a graffiti artist?


Are you still a fan of Graffiti? Do you have a favorite Graffiti artist? Or are there specific artists that impress you? 

I am not  A "G word" advocate! Reason being is because I was re-educated by PHASE2, VULCAN, AND RIFF 170, but mainly by Phase, who is truly the originator of Style Writing. For such an anti-political and anti-government movement, they sure did use a term that was coined by the system. You may as well be saying the "N word". To me that is a hypocritical contradiction. People are so invested into their colonized minds that they made a way of life with that word, so that tells me they are easily controlled by "MONEY." From the late 60's to the mid 90's, aerosol art was looked upon as an eyesore. It wasn't looked upon as art, even if you could paint a pretty picture with a spray can. Something needed to change this negative connotation that was coined by the government. So in my heart, mind, body, soul, I feel I was one of the few artists within this culture that has taken this medium to new heights. When it was reported that I sold a piece for 500k euros that is a game changer, especially for the culture. So when I see other artists doing things, but still using that old terminology like the ''G' word," it just downgrades it in my eyes. But there are others who don't know about the true roots of this culture, who have drank the shitastophy shake and accept it for what it is. I have accepted to not accept this terminology, hence I call it Modern Hieroglyphics. I just call it what it is: "I'm on some other shit. Take over the Mothership." Who impresses me: Michelangelo, Carravagio, Dali, just to name a few, from a historical standpoint. Then you have contemporaries and brothers in arms: PHASE 2, VULCAN, RIFF 170.

Having lived such a dynamic life, what inspires you now?

What Inspires me now: Everything is art or at least artistic, especially if you love doing it. I'm just happy to say that I have a life even outside of visual art and live it to the best of my ability. I'm heavily into Krav Maga which is an Israeli fighting style, and I am training to be an instructor in that. I am also an iboga provider within the Bwiti Tradition; I have been to Africa three times with more to come, learning, understanding, overstanding, and innerstanding that this true tradition that can help save lives. I have chosen three practices for knowledge, expertise, and inspiration: ART, KRAVMAGA, BWITI. Oh yes of course my Self and my wife are my greatest inspirations.

Does music play a role in your art? Whats in your headphones these days?

Music plays a major roll in everyone's life, but especially mine as I create my own beats for my video productions which I also create myself. You ask whats in my head phones: MY BEATS first and foremost, but I have to give it up to RUN THE JEWELS for keeping it original.

I have a mixture of things like hip hop from back in the days, retro 60's to 80's music, jazz for sure, and I'm not gonna front to some of the big booty hoe ass shaking rap shit. If it's dope to me, I got it, trust me.

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What are your favorite colors or are there colors you find yourself using often?

I have no favorite colors as I'm a fan of all colors, especially being biracial, I see no color that is divided. NO ADDITIVES NO PRESERVATIVES ALL FRESH FLAVORS used over here. I don't DIS-CRIMIN-ATE!

Having done such a wide range of projects, from canvas to giant buildings, what kind of project gets you most excited?

I'd have to say I do not discriminate when it comes to what and where I create. I LOVE EVERYTHING I DO!

What is a technical trick you've picked up over the years that helps out your wall painting process?

I have many, but before I refuse to give up the tricks of the trade, I'll give you one thats out there already. For my "upside down technique," I flip the can upside down to release its contents of pressure and manipulate the can to my advantage to help get me specific details.

Do you have any big projects we should be looking out for?

SECRETS! JUST BE PATIENT AND WAIT if you really care. This is a common question with the many many years of doing interviews. No more giving up secret evidence and documents. Things are cooking.

What sage like wisdom can you offer the neophyte regarding the culture, codes and ethics, safety tips, tools and techniques, ect?

TRUST YOURSELF IN ORDER TO LOOK and see who you really are when it comes to your creative process of ORIGINALITY. If you fall in line like the rest of the sheep clown fuckers, then you will not go down in history or have a legacy. This is something I'm working towards daily.

If someone wants to follow you or learn more about you, where should they look?

@chorboogie  - IG

@chorboogie1 - FB

same with every other platform just look up or google CHOR BOOGIE


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