David "Chino" Villarente Explains How Graffiti Culture Changed Post-9/11

During A Hip-Hop Moment at Rush Arts Gallery in New York City, graffiti luminary David "Chino" Villarente also details the significance of the "piece book" to the culture.

The Rush Arts Gallery in Manhattan, New York recently hosted A Hip-Hop Moment. Curated by Jah C and sponsored by Alize Coco, the event saw an evening celebrating all the elements of Hip Hop. The gathering primarily focused on graffiti legend David “Chino” Villarente, a longtime artist and subsequent historian and ambassador of classic New York graffiti culture around the world. There was also a crowd-sourced Q & A with Villarente, as well as the debut of Jah C’s single “Classy Girl” featuring Jaison Spain.

After giving a demonstration of his graffiti abilities during Jah C and Spain’s performance (which also featured breakdancer Chrybaby Coize performing the real Harlem Shake), Villarente discussed his latest release the World Piece Book. The third book in a series documenting graffiti pieces, this installment highlights pieces from 34 different countries around the globe. As Villarente explained, the significance of the “piece book” in graff culture goes back to when aspiring graffiti artists would pass around a notebook to their favorite artists and try to collect “pieces,” signatures painted for them in their pages. Being how secretive graffiti culture is, often the only proof that one has met some of the more elusive artists is by collecting their signature in their piece book. Villarente’s three releases have served as “fantasy piece books” of sorts, collecting these signatures from graffiti’s most respected names.

When asked if there was a cause today that would inspire a new tag, Villarente stated that “Chino,” after a lot of soul searching, was merely a nickname. It was the easiest thing for him to gravitate to, and he’s met Chinos around the world who’ve had to explain to others that they weren’t him. He went on to say the environment in New York City when he started doing graffiti was very different, with very lax laws on quality of life offenses. Now, in a post-9/11 world, we’re in an era of surveillance that’s changed how people write graffiti. Today, getting caught once risks felony charges which could severely hinder young writers for the rest of their lives.

Villarente also discussed the influence of Keith Haring on his work, the graffiti world prior to Hip Hop, the difference in graffiti around the world and his thoughts on the current state of Hip Hop. Most notably, he noted how overseas (particularly in Germany) the elements of Hip Hop are all celebrated together, leading to the surprise of the locals when they discover he doesn’t breakdance or rap. He closed by discussing how well received the Piece Books have been in graffiti culture, as well as how surprisingly successful they’ve been with young readers.

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5 Comments

  • Clarence Fruster

    To Chaz, HipHopdx.com & Justin Hunte. This one means a lot to me. Of all the events I've produced & received critical acclaim for, this one meant a lot to me in a personal way & somewhat ironically it wasn't well supported and some of what I counted on for this didn't pull through for me at all. I say that not to be negative but to juxtapose this beautifully written piece & what actually came of the moment with the fact that it was uniquely arduous. For me, this piece goes to show that persistence & a positive attitude can have a lasting & culturally impactive end result. Salute

  • @lpha

    I WORK FOR A GOVERNMENT SPECIAL INTEREST CORPORATION, MY WORKFORCE AND I GET PAID TO COMMENT ON WEBSITES THAT SWAY CULTURAL, POLITICAL AND SENSITIVE MATTERS REGARDING PUBLIC OPINION. WE CREATE ALIASES AND ARE GIVEN THE TASK TO CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT OF CONFUSION AMONG THE FORUMS OF MANY WEBSITES TO PREVENT THE PUBLIC FROM EXPRESSING, INSPIRING AND ULTIMATELY CONGREGATING. I DON'T WANT TO DO IT ANY MORE. THEY WILL FIND ME SO DON'T LET THIS BE IN VAIN. TELL YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS. AND MARCH UPON THOSE WHO OPPRESS YOU AS ONE.

  • Anonymous

    weak ass wannabe artist, graffiti doesnt belong in books, it belong to trains and the sidewall of your momma house.

  • wahhhhpppp

    Gucci Mane = realest rapper ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - T.I. snitch to the feds - Young Jeezy was never bmf - 50 Cent snitch and was never in jail but a youthcamp - Game was never a banger but lived the life of his brother in his lyrics - Nas Escobar never sold drugs - Ice Cube never was a gangbanger - Dr Dre never was a gangbanger - 2pac was a ballerina and never sold drugs after he become famous he was doing some stupid stuff like beating and shooting at people because he though he could get away with it. Without Suge Knight 2pac was just a skinny motherfucker. Oh and i like his music so fuck you. - Mobb deep are the biggiest pussies in rap they are short as midgets and keep talking this g shit but never did g shit.

    • Anonymous

      On January 4, 2011, A judge in the Superior Court of Georgias Fulton County ordered rapper Gucci Mane to a psychiatric hospital, according to court documents. The documents reveal that his lawyers filed a Special Plea of Mental Incompetency on Dec. 27 arguing that he is unable to go forward and/or intelligently participate in the probation revocation hearing.

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