Uncapped: Scoping the Scene with Bicoastal Beast ‘Skope2’

Posted on: August 6th, 2015 at 10:27 am by
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So Prez One knocked the art out of the park previously on Uncapped and now we have another Staten Island native: Skope 2. Not sure what’s in the water across the harbor, but they’re born and bred with ill skills. Though he may have relocated to the left coast, Skope 2 remembers and regales us with the influence of New York graff on his life.

BOWERY BOOGIE: Welcome, Skope2! We already know you’re from SI … tell us more about growing up there.

SKOPE2: I was born in 1970, and had a knack for drawing at an early age. I was fortunate to have been raised in a creative family. Staten Island had a thriving graffiti scene as early as the mid-70s, and I was magnetically attracted to the underground art form even in my single-digit ages. Family trips to Manhattan and summertime rides on the subway to Shea Stadium in the mid-to-late 70s really sparked my interest in graff. By middle school, I was toying around with rough tags in my school books, but two distinct events changed me in a big way.

BOWERY BOOGIE: Shea! Do tell.

SKOPE: Well, in 1983 I met my first real writer friend: a schoolmate that wrote “Skope.” The original Skope was the brother of then-well-known and respected Staten Island writer, “SG aka Mars,” who had connections to the neighboring Brooklyn graff scene. At the time I had adopted the early tag “FY” and did my first black book piece in Skope’s book. From there I immediately started collecting markers and drawing graffiti on paper obsessively. The second event, also took place in ’83. I was channel flipping and happened upon PBS airing the infamous graffiti/hip-hop documentary, Style Wars. Suddenly, I was immersed. More than anything else in the film, Dondi’s “Children of the Grave” whole-car(s) train excited me the most.

BOWERY BOOGIE: Ha, yeah you and everyone else! The world famous Dondi White.  Never been anyone like him since. His art hangs in museums! He was and still is so influential to the world of graffiti and art and graffiti art. I can’t believe it’s been almost 20 years since he passed. He was a true pioneer and also a man who unknowingly became a spokesperson (posthumously) for finding a cure for AIDS.

SKOPE2: Unfortunately, many years later, while we’ve made significant progress, we still do not have a cure. HIV/AIDS is no longer headline news, at least not in the U.S., even though it is still a major problem in places like poor African nations. And that means that all of us still have a responsibility to protect ourselves and fellow human beings – KRS 1’s message still stands: “wear your Jimmy Hat!”

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BOWERY BOOGIE: Amen to that. What a loss. Back to you, though. Tell us what happened next. 

SKOPE2: In 1986, I did my first real piece with spray paint on a solo mission (as “FY”) along the train tracks of Staten Island’s SIRT system. Shortly after, Skope retired so I asked to adopt the tag and tacked on a “2” in homage to the original. Skope 2 (sometimes spelled Scope) was born and has remained as my primary tag ever since.

I went hard along the train line and other high-profile walls around Staten Island through the rest of the 80s, doing piece after piece, getting better with each mission, while painting with just a few close partners – most notable among them being childhood friend Keps, and later, Dino Once, an exceptional talent who I met at the School of Visual Arts. It was at the Manhattan-based art college from 1988 to 1992 that my graff career truly came alive! I met and painted with many other strong talents from all over the city, painted canvasses, did scores of highly-detailed black books, and participated in gallery shows.

Right in the middle of this time, I became close painting partners with my mentor Skope’s brother, SG/Mars (by this time, also “Air 3”), and together with Brooklyn writer Kaves (of Lordz of Brooklyn fame), we formed TNI (“The Next Invasion”) crew. TNI established a strong presence in the Paris underground graffiti scene.

BOWERY BOOGIE: The ’80s were good to you. To so many of us. Regarding Paris, I saw this movie about graffiti artists venturing into the uncharted portions of the Catacombs in Paris. You know, the underground cemetery constructed of skeletons…did you ever get in there? I know there’s a tour, but nah.

SKOPE2:  No, I’ve never been in the Catacombs, in fact I’ve never been to Paris – the French TNI connection was forged by the Prez, Air 3 and his brother Take 5, in the early 90s. I participated in the TNI show in 2013, but only with my artwork. Bucket list!

BOWERY BOOGIE: I have been to Paris, but never to the Catacombs. I say we get a group of people over to France and show them why they hate Americans so much. Kidding. Sort of.

SKOPE2: Ha!

BOWERY BOOGIE: Totally back to you.

SKOPE2: Ok. In 1990, me and Mars along with Mars’ brother Skope (as “Take 5”) had with a cameo in Volume 2 of the popular graffiti documentary series, Video Graff, in a segment on Staten Island. It was wonderful, but after that, my interests shifted towards a career in DJ’ing and music production so me and Mars formed and managed a record label, Hydrant Records.

BOWERY BOOGIE: Rebirth!

SKOPE2: Yep. In 1996, we moved operations to San Francisco, to join a thriving electronic music scene on the West Coast. Over the next 15 years, I only came back to the East Coast to paint and that was very rare.  But in 2011, with a waning interest in my music career, I returned to my original love: drawing and graft.

BOWERY BOOGIE: Rebirth squared! 

SKOPE2: Yep, again and by 2011, I was a husband and a father of a 4 year-old with twins on the way. Having the full support of my wife, I re-entered the scene: once again starting in black books, honing my skills.

In the spring of 2012, I was on the scene with a splash: painting in Oakland beside 3 of the best in the game: Rime MSK, (who had been an early influence), Oakland/Berkeley’s Jurne, and Yes2 from the Bronx.

I have been all over SF Bay Area graff scene, painting to the west in SF, east in Oakland, south in Union City and north in Sebastapol. I’ve painted alongside some of NorCal’s best, including Keb, Joker, Wand and Icer (ICP and/or TM7), Jurne and Twigs (TGE), Ruel One (AOW/VSOP), Humboldt’s Detour (IWS/TNI), as well as visiting talent including Brooklyn’s Reps and Host/Shot.

BOWERY BOOGIE: Are you still in touch with Mars or anyone in TNI?

SKOPE2: Sure am! I reunited with Mars/Air 3 multiple times. My work with TNI has appeared in four group gallery shows from SF to New York to Paris. I am currently working towards a solo show.

BOWERY BOOGIE: Coming full circle. Talk to Skope2; you can follow him on Instagram @skope2tni.

Check some of his work below and after that it’s a wrap. ‘Til next time. Peace y’all.

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