While on a wild chase to link up with the big homie Aaron LaCrate during a quick visit to Maryland. I managed to gain a cool opportunity to tag along with him and his Production Manager for his brand Milkcrate NYC to check out Wall Writers. Little did I know that this would be a night to solidify why I started Stereo Champions in the first place but it was. Before the film came on I could tell this one would be special as all of the tickets were sold out at the AFI Silver Theatre. Luckily for me, I was with a stand-up guy and LaCrate made sure I got in to check out the film. Once inside I realized it was packed and the crowd was diverse just like graffiti itself. There were old and young, scrappy and clean, school teachers and outlaws, all in one room to see a movie about some of the originators of street Graffiti. Wall Writer’s features some of the top graffiti artists including Taki 183, Cornbread, Kool Klepto Kidd, Phil T Greek, Greg 69, and more.
As the film came on immediately the first thing that came to mind was, “wow man Roger Gastman (Director) really put his foot into making this film an experience.” The story covers the birth of graffiti in Philadelphia and New York during the 1967 to 1973 era. Literally, this film highlights not the graffiti that comes to mind when you think of hip-hop or street art now but simply people walking around and tagging walls, poles, subway cars, and even elephants with sharpies/shoe polish with their names and street block numbers.
This film came to life thanks to testimonies from journalists, historians and politicians who bore witness to the wall-writing revolution along with interviews are coupled with rare photographs and archival footage. One of the coolest parts of this film is definitely the depth they went into getting to know the different artist. The story about how Phil T Greek and his homies using the same tag name was awesome and also the story of the Ex-Vandals was simply amazing. I’d say for any graffiti artist or artist that’s really into tagging the streets and creating the future would definitely find benefit in hearing the stories shared throughout this film.
One of the most disappointing parts of this film would be the lack of awareness to share the impact that the music scene at the time had on the art being produced. With that being said I totally wish this would’ve been touched on a little more but this didn’t kill the film completely for me as the history shared about each artists was great in itself.
After hearing the chilling stories of some of the active graffiti artists during that time period, I found myself wanting to know more as the credits hit the screen and the clapping began. Instantly, you see the director approach the front of the room for a brief Q&A and then he yells out “can all of the graffiti artists that was featured in this film stand,” then right away every artist began to reveal themselves as you could hear the oooos and aaaahhs from the crowd. It was beautiful to see as they all migrated to the front to begin answering all of the questions being beamed at them from the crowd. Many of the people who approached the mics to ask questions gave praises to the graffiti artist for the art they birthed that evolved into the brilliant graffiti you see today covering the walls from Compton, CA to New York, NY and around the world. As soon as you thought it was over Cool Disco Dan grabs the mic and challenges all of the Philadelphia and New York City graffiti artists to a tag-off around the District of Columbia.
Overall, I’d say this film is a piece of history and it’ll continue to help document the graffiti culture many of us love or hate. If you call yourself an artist, graffiti tagger, or lover of culture you’ll definitely make time to see this film. When you find time to catch a cool film be sure to add this one to your queue.
Composition score 9
Story score 8
Music & SFX score 6