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Fab 5 Freddy

Interview by: Miz Metro
November 2007

Miz Metro with Fab 5 Freddy

Wooster wall

Wooster wall close-up

Recently a work of art, in the form of a graffiti wall, was discovered. It displays work by, Fab 5 Freddy, Futura 2000, Jean Michael Basquiat and others. The wall was only rumored to exist, but it was found behind layers of sheetrock and plumbing prior to its building being renovated to luxury lofts. The wall has been renamed "The 151 Wooster Wild Style Wall." The mural and 16 other works (Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fab 5 Freddy, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, and Ero) will be on display until February 15th at 151 Wooster Street New York, NY.

Below is the interview that Fab 5 Freddy gave to the up-and-coming singer/songwriter from New York, Miz Metro. In addition to her beautiful music and powerful voice, Miz Metro is very in touch with the underground street-art scene that has been in New York City for decades. To check out Miz Metro's music and see more pictures of The 151 Wooster Wild Style Wall, please go to http://www.myspace.com/mizmetro.

Excerpts from Miz Metro's interview with Fab 5 Freddy
151 Wooster Street SoHo NY, November 2007

Miz Metro: How did you come to write on this wall? When did you first visit 151 Wooster?
Fab 5 Freddy: This woman Edit DeAK who's house this was, a really noted art critic told me "come and paint on the walls" - she just let it happen - when right outside people were like, "Ugh, that's horrible. Get those guys out of here." She was able to see things that now many people see and understand. Now they use this style of painting to represent hip, young, cool - the music does the same thing, you know about that. It was something I definitely saw was a lot bigger then it was, but I had no idea 25 years later I'd be standing here in-front of this wall dropping this history like we uncovered some secret tomb.

MM: Looking at all of this, how does it make you feel?
F5F: It feels great, when I saw all this and got wind of it, it just made me think about what point I was at, and all the other things that I was about to do. So now 20-plus years later it's like the preverbal mark on the wall… The thing I like about seeing it is a lot of people would look at this and try to say "I like when you do the big colorful things, but I don't like it when it's all the scribbles" - but I like that too. On the more artistic side, I was the urban nerdy kid who hung out in the museums, I was on the street corners doing my thing but I knew about Jackson Pollack, I knew about Franz Kline, so I was seeing how abstract painters are inspired by the calligraphic history of it all… The interconnected craziness turns it into a whole thing like what you have here [pointing to The 151 Wooster Mural], which really represents the wild energy of it all from that period.

MM: Is it significant that "Wild Style" is actually written on the wall?
F5F: Yeah, well there was a crew named Wild Style, wild style was actually a style of graffiti - of the really interconnected pieces… Charlie [Ahearn] and I named our movie "Wild Style" - the first film on Hip Hop culture to really speak so broadly to specifically that style of work.

MM: Looking back on all this I'm curious to know how you feel about hip hop and the culture it is today. On MTV, you hosted the first international show that really brought hip hop around the world. Now it's a phenomenon in all these other countries. How do you feel about that?
F5F: I feel great about it, I'm very much so still a part of it. Today I produced a show for VH1 called "Hip Hop Honors"… As a producer of the show I was honored, along with Charlie Ahearn, for producing and being a part of the film "Wild Style". I'm really happy to see the culture go beyond my wildest dreams, or imaginations of where it could go. It's a great thing to see people in different countries, from different places and different spaces being a part of this interesting culture. It's really great.

MM: It seems like everything that you were a part of putting out there into the mainstream was very positive. How do you feel about the different directions that Hip Hop has taken?
F5F: In general the good parts of Hip Hop are still probably the most important, and I'm not just being biased. I think it's probably the most important cultural force that's emerged, without question, in the last 100 years because it continues to thrive and grow in every aspect… In America there's so much of a commercial, watered down, "lets just get the money" vibe, but when you go to every other country around the world - all over Europe, all over Asia, all over Africa - people take up this culture to give themselves a voice. They don't have outlets to media that we have, the outlet to galleries, so people have picked up these forms to express themselves in ways that are really beyond comprehension. There's nothing really that you can compare to what goes on with people picking up spray paint, and grabbing the microphone, scratching some records to kind of make a sound, and giving people a vibe that they mean something. That's the important thing about [Hip Hop] to me.

MM: You mentioned that one of the main things asked by the press was "How long is this going to last?" Were you aware that this movement was something that was going to go beyond what was happening in the Bronx, Harlem, and Brooklyn?
F5F: To a certain extent I did… I knew the amount of kids throughout the city that were avidly into this but [in 1980] it was still a big secret to the rest of the country and the rest of the world… I knew that once people got a sense of it, got to see it, got to understand it - they would at least be able to appreciate it. [In the 1980's] if you were Black or Puerto Rican and you were wearing street cloths, whenever you would see [graffiti] images in the press it was negative, it was crime - like "these are the bad guys"…. I wanted to help make a film to see images of people that look like me that were doing something. That's why, as a painter, my "Swan Song" on the subway system was an homage to Andy Warhol; I did a whole subway car painted with Campbell soup cans to let people know - "wow some of those kids that are doing those trains must know about art." Warhol was somebody that I really admired as an artist… He redefined what an artist could be in this pop culture and I was very fascinated - myself, Jean-Michel, and Keith Haring were all thinking about that aggressively, talking about it, then doing our own thing based on that history.

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