Questlove and MC Ren are just a handful of Hip Hop artists admiring the newly surfaced graffiti art covering several New York City subway trains. Much like the ’70s and ’80s, entire cars are being painted top-to-bottom with the carefully chosen monikers of their creators — but not everybody is thrilled.
According to CBS New York, The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says the “vandalism is happening out of sight of cameras and cops.”
There have been at least five “high-profile, top-to-bottom and end-to-end train graffiti crimes since the summer,” including a Q train at the 96th Street stop of the Second Avenue Subway on June 9, a D train vandalized on Halloween night and a train on the J/M/Z line in Bushwick, Brooklyn on December 17.
It appears to take place in the “lead up” areas inside of a tunnel, so the car is off the platform, requiring the graffiti artists to walk in “past warning signs and avoid the third rail.”
Earlier this month, the Police Benevolent Association noticed an F train covered in graffiti and shared a clip of the car on Twitter.
“The 70s & 80s, now in living color on a subway platform near you,” the caption read. “A true sign of decay, one that we worked so hard to eradicate decades ago. The taggers had plenty of time to cover this entire train, because they know there are no more consequences.”
The 70s & 80s, now in living color on a subway platform near you. A true sign of decay, one that we worked so hard to eradicate decades ago. The taggers had plenty of time to cover this entire train, because they know there are no more consequences. #backtothefuturepic.twitter.com/7uWmg8YdzU
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) January 21, 2020
In 1979, Lee Quinones and Fab 5 Freddy had a gallery opening in Rome that included graffiti art, exposing the art form to people outside of New York City.
Freddy’s friendship with Blondie singer Debbie Harry led to Blondie’s “Rapture” single in 1981 and the subsequent video provided a whole new audience a first glimpse of graffiti.
In 1983, Charlie Ahearn’s film Wild Style, which focused on the four elements of Hip Hop culture, showcased the work of famous graffiti artists Skeme, Dondi, MinOne and Zephyr and included songs such as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5’s “The Message” and Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock,” leading to a heightened interest in the art form.
Over the decades, graffiti art has exploded with popularity and been commercialized to sell everything from Taco Bell to Coca-Cola.
The MTA says in the first half of the decade train graffiti averaged around 200 incidents each year, but that figure tripled by 2018. Authorities aren’t exactly sure what has caused this recent boom in productivity, but online chatter speculates it could’ve been sparked by the deaths of two legendary graffiti artists, including PHASE 2 who passed away last December.