Graffiti Gallery (12)

Zed-9 & Kelzo were both quietly competitive Manchester graffiti artists I knew as people & respected as writers. They came from different parts of the city, moved in different circles & had differing philosophies. Kelzo lived & painted in Hulme but was well-travelled, having been invited to various London graff-jams. Kelzo had a distinctive & highly original 3-D style lettering. He had the respect of others & was covered in Graphotism. Commissions had begun to come his way too (Eastenders, Fosters Ice, Green Room, Hacienda). He also got major props for being sole-organiser of the Hulme SMEAR Jams

Zed was a totally different kind of beast. Man lived & breathed American hip-hop, totally dressed the part too, but talked it like a Manc. Zed-9 was a real Face. Often seen on Tib St, always out in the evenings. He seemed to be hip-hop on almost all fronts. B-Boy, rapper & graffiti artist. He also had an immaculate sneaker collection to rival Mrs Marcos's. He sniffed at commissions, saying that wasn't Keeping it Real but just envy probably. Younger than Kelz he seemed to have more to prove (to others, to himself). With a small band of brothers he took to hitting train yards at night, thereby elevating their graffiti status into a different league

Zed-9 disappeared into the night & my friend Seb went after him with his camera. I stuck to photographing Kelzo in Hulme. Only in the world of hip-hop... would potential opponents through mutual respect stand alongside one another like this. You saw it sometimes with break-dancers too. Crews formed from formerly fierce rivalries. I wasn't going to pass up again a chance of shooting them together

So it's November wet & windy as Zed-9 & Kelzo head over Snakes Pass down into Yorkshire & Wakefield Skate Park ... I tag along. Not an easy place to find and, once we do, it's not an easy place to safely navigate! With different lines of skateboarders criss-crossing the floor, sensimillia smoke & aerosol paint fumes proving a heady mix, simply crossing the room took a certain dexterity & careful timing
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