Thursday, 23 October 2008

“Here’s a little story that must be told...”*

July 1983:

My friends and me sit goggle-eyed in the 
ancient wooden seats of the Arts Centre 
Cinema on King Square in Bristol, as 
Charlie Ahearn’s film Wild Style
plays to a noisy, half-full auditorium. We
react loudly with the rest of the young
audience at the sight of the Rocksteady
Crew B-boying (or break-dancing) in a circle
while the Cold Crush Brothers speak the
new rap language over a new kind of beat:

My goal is the same
I aim for fame
I don’t pop no game
I don’t have no chain.

For us, though, it is the opening scene
of Lee Quinones’ character, Zoro, breaking
into the yards to paint the side of a subway
train that really mesmerises. None of us
dares to blink as Zoro slides down a rope
into the darkness, looking like an urban
ninja on a mission of creative destruction.
The painted letters on the wall behind
him come to life, and introduce the film’s
animated title sequence; the words ‘Wild
Style’ writhe and contort in time with the
off-key funky soundtrack, growing ever
more complex and eventually exploding.

I sit gob-smacked, unable to wipe the
demented grin off my face and savouring
every moment. We are hungry teenagers,
always hunting for the next thing – and this
is exactly what we need.

The urge to emulate, to be involved,
is instant, intoxicating and powerful. My
friends, my brother and me talk about
nothing else for months; we doodle
incessantly in school, trying to recreate
styles that are gradually fading from the
backs of our retinas. The addiction has
taken hold and it feels incredible. In our
hearts and minds we are already graffiti
artists. Or, more correctly, ‘writers’, because
that’s what it’s all about: writing your
name, letting the world know that you

I write therefore I am.

(Extract from the Introduction to Children Of The Can)

[* Stoop Rap by Double Trouble]

1 comment:

yer mum! said...

taped it off the tele and cut out all the breaks then sat for hours with this very title sequence on pause and copied all the pieces!! this film and then stlyle wars spearheaded the graff scene in england for most kids...

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