uzz One, born Vincent Fedorchak, is one of Hip-Hops living legends. As park gatherings in the South Bronx were using street-poles for power sources, Fuzz One was gettin up deep in the caverns, the train yards, with a trash-bag full of stolen paint.
Like an urban Huck Finn, Fuzz rode the rails risking his life and the law all before the age of 12. Today, Fuzz, who wrote under more aliases than MF Doom raps with, is considered one of the greatest, most famed IRT [Interborough Rapid Transit subway line] writers ever. Hailing from the early 1970s, Fuzz wrote on and off through the F**k Giuliani era, and today, still lives in New York.
In celebration of his recent self-titled, autobiographical collection of stories from his youth, Fuzz spoke to AllHipHop.com. We discuss the powerful memoir, Hip-Hop in the 70s, and the evolution of graf writing. Whether youre a writing purist or simply an admirer, Fuzz One speaks real words.
AllHipHop.com: People were tagging before DJ Kool Herc invented Hip-Hop as we know it. Because your own story starts in the early 70’s, do you see a
connection within it that would attract today’s second or third
Fuzz One: Yeah, I see a connection. But graffiti came first, before everything else. Actually, Kool Herc was one of the first El Marko graf writers – he had the Bronx laced out. I admired him a lot, he had style. Hopefully, kids today would want to politic with someone with knowledge of the old days, to share the wisdom, and give a guided tour. You have to be able to seek someone out to show you the way, take you under their wing, and give you the truth.
AllHipHop.com: I like that in your book, you make reference to the music you were diggin’ – specifically Barry White. At what point do you think that
the music and graffiti combined within the culture?
Fuzz One: 1978, to me, seemed like the year everything started to mesh together. Barry White was the master of love. Hip-Hop kids were digging graffiti, [and] graf writers started digging early Hip-Hop, and rappers kind of oversaw it all. But before 1978, the graffiti soundtrack was more Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Jethro Tull, Ted Nugent, Black Sabbath, [Bachman Turner Overdrive], the Eagles, and Lynryd Skynyrd.
AllHipHop.com: You write a lot about the contrast of being an under-aged, smaller,
White guy to the “Brothers” you ran with. How have elements of race
changed today? Some might argue things were better back that. Others
say today is better. I’m curious as to your opinion.
Fuzz One: Back then, what really mattered was where you held it down – the neighborhoods you were in. Also, your body language was important, and the way you carried yourself. And you had to have personalityno White dudes could just roll up to the Concourse when Jive 3 was there, or Shade, or Piper, or Cuve [notoriously tough writers of the day]. Those dudes were just looking to take dudes off the count for nothing. Dudes were just hanging at the train station, waiting. But nowadays, there is a bigger arena for graffiti, and its at a different level, theres no racial gangbuster s**t anymore. Graffiti is a little more toned down now, and you dont have to prove yourself to every Tom, Dick, and Harry. Writers nowadays either flow together or they dont, theres no gray area.
AllHipHop.com: Because of its recent 25th Anniversary, so many people, myself included, are hung up on The
Warriors. The gangs/crews running from each other for safety seemed to
be an element in the book, especially when describing Cuve and other
villains in there. How do you feel about the romanticism of what was
once a life & death experience for you?
Fuzz One: Nowadays, s**t is tired. Theres no action. If there wasnt that type of s**t lurking in the darkness back then, I wouldnt have written, because that excitement of the unknown fueled my energy. If I could just go up to the train and bomb, whats the point? Then where would my females and butlers be? [laughs] They wouldnt have a job. But there were definitely certain places I wouldnt go because youd get your f**king head chopped off. I dont think thats too romantic.
AllHipHop.com: I’m sure I won’t do this question justice. But as a writer, you
seemed to touch on the uses of specific colors with certain writers.
You make reference to your vast collection of greens – was that your
color? For any particular reason?
Fuzz One: Lime Green and Cascade Green were my top colors, and the top choices of FAL [Freaks At Large]. If you didnt have Cascade Green, you wasnt down with the program. Plu,s these colors match my eyes, and the b*tches loved that s**t.
AllHipHop.com: I get the impression that today’s writer holds down one or two
names. What was it about your era, that led you to constantly write
Fuzz One: Because the f**king cops were after me every f**king minute of the day, and I had to change my name every week. Romeo, Slurp 7, Lord, 2God, 2Wild, Sor, Prince, I wrote them all. But it was imperative to always write Fuzz One here and there through it all, to let people know the deal. And I always had to have a Mom 707 piece running somewhere for my Moms.
AllHipHop.com: How has the idea of a “hot name” changed over the years? “Fuzz One”
still sounds crazy to me now.
Fuzz One: Well, some writers had really banging names, names that meant something. Those were the hottest, because those names were so powerful that people would be having conversations over their evening meals about them.
But nowadays, there are no good names left to get. Guys in the 80s were using variations from the 70s names, and the whole concept of a name changed, became less a personal statement.
AllHipHop.com: I’m fascinated with the idea of nostalgia – specifically in
graffiti art. I asked Henry Chalfant and Tony Silver [makers of Style Wars] this question several
years ago, and they acted like I was being silly… but I’ll take that
risk. Aside from the trains, do you think that there’s any spots in
New York today, where your paint still stands?
Fuzz One: Definitely. In all the caverns of New York City, the name Fuzz still lingers. Underpasses, subway tunnels, train yards, sewers, in the back of stores Fuzz One still holds ground in many areas, believe me.
AllHipHop.com: The book ends around the time you moved from The Bronx to Queens.
In short, what completely pulled you away from what you were doing?
Fuzz One: I had no choice . Outside agencies were trying to take me off the count. The Bronx became too hot for me to stay there. But once I got to Queens, I kept writing. A lot of people know me from the Sevens [train line].
AllHipHop.com: Some say, “Hip-Hop is for the young.” Having been a true Hip-Hop
pioneer, how does such a statement sit with you?
Fuzz One: I think hip hop is great. I used to hang out in East Tremont [Bronx] with TMT [The Magnificent Team] dudes, and I attended The Fever Hip-Hop is not for the young, it is for everybody. I can appreciate it, and Im not so young.
AllHipHop.com: Tell me about the essence of a graffiti crew. For instance, I love
your tribute in the book to The Fantastic Partners. Why do you think
collaboration meant so much to the art-form?
Fuzz One: Because if you didnt have a crew, you couldnt hold it down. You needed loyal, devoted partners who would have your back for every move in every way. You could be some single dude out there bombing, dont get me wrong, you could be alone, but eventually, youd get caught out there one way or another no matter who you were. I grew up in the peace, love, and harmony days, when people actually cared about each other, and thats what crews were like. If you had four or five dudes who were in the same crew, they were like family.
AllHipHop.com: I’m often troubled with the fact that today’s young Rap listener
has no idea who Rakim is, let alone Spoonie Gee. What sense of history
is there within writing? Does it differ within the US to abroad?
Fuzz One: Rakim was a god. He was an inventor. Some kids know their history, and others dont. They read books, they look at pictures, they watch videos, they hear stories it depends who they get with. If they have a good guide to the graf world, a legend who will hook them up and share knowledge, theyll be straight. But if you dont have someone like that, no matter where youre from, youre done, youre lost.
AllHipHop.com: As I recall, you’re not in Style Wars. The book ends in and around 1976. What were you doing in
1982? What was your reaction when the culture you laid groundwork in,
hit PBS and screens, and reached the burbs’?
Fuzz One: I was still writing in 1982, and running away from the cops. I thought it was cool that Style Wars was on TV. It kind of brought graffiti out into a different light, which was good – but it also let a lot of people in on our secret. It brought out tons of newjacks who wanted in, kids were robbing their moms pocketbooks to buy paint. If I had been in Style Wars, cops wouldve been at my house in five minutes. Police had every house I ever lived in staked out to the ultimate.
AllHipHop.com: In your bio at www.at149st.com, it says you returned to getting up in the 1990’s. What prompted that? How did it feel? Did it stop? Why?
Ket [1980s 90s writer, also founder of Stress magazine] took me to his house and laced me up with paint. He opened his drawers and told me , Dude, load up. It was great. I was glad to be back in the game. Ket was my tour guide to the new writing scene. Like I said, everybody needs a tour guide. I dont do illegal graf anymore, but I will always be a writer, and now I write books.
AllHipHop.com: Your final paragraph of the book struck me. New York seems to be entirely different from what it was.
The real people who were cheated are the midgets, the fidgets, the
blind, the hobos, etc. I was hoping you could elaborate as to why you
ended the book on such a sullen [and moving] note? Have you since left
New York? Where can young people get a sense of adventure in today’s
Fuzz One: I wrote about them because they were Gods children, and Ive always been a caring person. My publisher is the one who decided to end the book that way, guess she felt bad for the poor bums and wanted to give them some shine [laughs]. For adventure today, go to the rail. Still poppin after all these years. I was there last night, parked across the street from the old Martys Donut Shop [major hangout for writers]. If you cant get it at the rail, you cant get it anywhere. The baddest writers of all time came from the rail. It used to be the biggest piece-watching spot in New York City.
So I havent left New York, Im still around, and Im Bronx bound for now, gotta finish my next book.
For More Information on Fuzz One’s book, visit www.testifybooks.com.