New York, NY – Hip Hop is mourning the loss of yet another pioneer of the culture — PHASE 2. According to multiple social media posts, the legendary Bronx graffiti writer and flyer designer (real name Lonny Wood) passed away earlier this week.
Veteran New York City Hip Hop promotor Van Silk tells HipHopDX he’d been in the hospital since August with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
MC Debbie D was one of the many who flooded Twitter with memories of PHASE 2.
“RIP to a fallen King, the legendary pioneer flyer creator, Phase 2,” she wrote. “In the 70s, he and Buddy Esquire were the ‘go to’ flyer makers. If you couldn’t get one, you got the other! Two of the best flyer makers to ever do it!!! Rest those hands, my brother!”
RIP to a fallen King, the legendary pioneer flyer creator, Phase 2. In the 70s, he and Buddy Esquire were the “go to” flyer makers. If you couldn’t get one, you got the other! Two of the best flyer makers to ever do it!!! Rest those hands, my brother! ❤️🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/8I5OPV0mh4
— MC Debbie D (@MCDebbieD) December 13, 2019
Lord Finesse also expressed his condolences on social media, explaining he’d known PHASE 2 since he was a kid.
“Damn… This is crazy,” he captioned the post. “R.I.P. Phase 2 (Graf Legend & Pioneer) Where do I begin here.??? I knew Lonnie since I was a kid. Unknown to most we grew up together in Forest Projects in the Bronx ‘same building.. same floor’ building #965. I never knew he was a writer until I became an artist and was running into him in different parts of the world.
“Also known along with Buddy Esquire for creating the legendary Early Hip Hop flyers. I just knew him as my next door neighbor before that. We always got a good laugh about where art had taken both of us. Always proud of his iconic journey in the Graf world. Rest In Peace Brother.”
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Damn… This is crazy.. R.I.P. Phase 2 (Graf Legend & Pioneer) Where do I begin here.??? I knew Lonnie since I was a kid. Unknown to most we grew up together in Forest Projects in the Bronx “same building.. same floor” building #965 I never knew he was a writer until I became an artist and was running into him in different parts of the world 🌎. Also known along with Buddy Esquire for creating the legendary Early Hip Hop flyers. I just knew him as my next door neighbor before that. We always got a good laugh about where art had taken both of us. Always proud of his iconic journey in the Graf world. Rest In Peace Brother 🙏🏽🙏🏽 #Phase2 #TheLegend #TheIcon 👑✊🏽✊🏽👍🏽
Not only was PHASE 2 one of the first aerosol artists to exhibit the art form, he DJ’ed, rapped, made logos for Mike & Dave Records of Cash Crew fame and was a member of the B-Boy crew Electrified Movement as well. He was also responsible for assembling another infamous B-Boy crew called The New York City Breakers.
Around the mid ’80s, PHASE 2 began art directing and co-editing the notorious street writing and subway art publication IGTimes. Basically, PHASE 2 lived and breathed Hip Hop. His “Funky Nous Deco” style, as he called it, influenced several of his successors.
Cut Chemist, who has an extensive collection of vintage Hip Hop flyers, tells DX, “His contribution to the culture runs far deeper than most people know. He is Hip Hop.”
Courtesy of Cut Chemist
In a July interview with AIGA, PHASE 2 talked about how he initially started making flyers. The first one he ever created was for a Grandmaster Flash event and it took off from there.
“I grew up on music — older sister’s music, mom’s music, the radio,” he said. “That’s my first love. I wanted to be a radio DJ. So I think it was only natural that I played music even before we called it Hip Hop I basically did it all: danced, created dances, emceed, threw jams, and eventually promoted.
“I appreciate that you recognize the flyer designs we did as ‘graphic art’ and not just some Hip Hop stuff done by train dudes. I was drawing when the train culture didn’t even exist. Technically, I’ve been making art for a lifetime. I’ve always looked at the flyers as ads. That was my initial reason to do them.”
Prior to his death, PHASE 2 was working as a fine artist, creating skateboard decks, prints and vinyl.
Check out some of the Twitter tributes below.
R.I.P. and Salute To One Of Our Pioneer Writers PHASE 2…
Incredible Graffiti Artist and Pioneer Of The First HIP HOP FLYERS In NY along With Buddy Esquire…
Your Legacy Will NEVER Be Forgotten!!!
I WILL ALWAYS PAY HOMAGE TO OUR PIONEERS… pic.twitter.com/9FaTIsKAqK
— DJ Premier (@REALDJPREMIER) December 13, 2019
so grateful to have gotten to work with and know phase 2 not only through coflow but throughout the jux era where he did all our show flyers and more. phase was the purest artist i’ve ever met and a kind, true soul. rest in peace, my friend. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/IQ5hamaAVb
— el-p (@therealelp) December 13, 2019
RIP to graffiti icon PHASE 2. I became friends with him in the late 90s but I wasnt educated on the graffiti side of the culture. I had no idea what an iconic figure he was at first BUT then anytime I mentioned PHASE 2 first thing EVERYONE would say is Yo!! THAT MAN IS A LEGEND
— R.A. the Rugged Man (@RAtheRuggedMan) December 13, 2019
If you ever wrote Graf or just enjoy the artform you are indebted to the man #Phase2 Rest In Paint 👑 Phase2 a true legend and historian of the culture the mans contributions are so important. Thank you for everything you gave us #TrueLegend #TrueKing #Phase2
— Dante Ross (@DanteRoss) December 13, 2019
— 🍻 (@J2nd__) December 13, 2019
Phase2 was a style master general, and if he hasn’t written back to Sacha with the stash of flicks back in like ‘89 there would be no GS&EC and no Beatdown and no ego trip and no me.
— Noah Callahan-Bever (@N_C_B) December 13, 2019
RIP Real Hip Hop Pioneer PHASE 2 🙏🏼 https://t.co/4i3EZssRUD
— Denis Di Pasqua (@BreakTheFunk) December 12, 2019
RIP Lonny aka Phase 2…you will be missed! 🙏 pic.twitter.com/Fz2bCJNERc
— Ozzy Munoz (@omjr636) December 13, 2019
Wow!! RIP to the legend Phase 2. The master creator who pushed boundaries. Tough loss for our culture. 🙏🏽
— G-3PO (@Gx3xPxO) December 13, 2019
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Rest in Power Phase 2 Ho avuto l’onore di osservarti durante un masterpiece, ho avuto il piacere di giocare un paio di partite a basket assieme….per un ragazzino come me è stato importantissimo! I tuoi colori e il tuo nome saranno eterni sui muri e nei nostri cuori! #phase2 #king #writing #hiphop #phasetoo
RIP PHASE 2. We are all in your shadow 🙏🙏🙏
— Keet D'Arms (@KeetSST) December 13, 2019
RIP Phase 2. A Bronx graffiti legend and pioneer of the bubble letter. pic.twitter.com/FAJ1kwlVLx
— MM. (@meldotmel) December 13, 2019
— Adam from 3000worlds (@ADS3KW) December 12, 2019
They helped me find a place in this culture we call hip hop. RIP Phase 2, they should have you your flowers sooner.
— Shockra // (@BenElectro) December 13, 2019
RIP PHASE2. Beyond the letters, his whole philosophy light years ahead of everyone else. pic.twitter.com/kK6lijAmWv
— West Bay Al Dente (@DanLactose) December 13, 2019
RIP Phase2 pic.twitter.com/xfrBDGfYfk
— 👻🥒 (@PoemsPSI) December 13, 2019