Often referred to as the “father of style” and an “aerosol art innovator,” P.H.A.S.E. 2 helped set the aesthetic foundations for subway art in New York City during the early 1970s. His widely adopted softie “bubble” letters, intricate loops, intentional drips, heart and arrow extensions, cloud backgrounds and countless other aesthetic innovations helped transition writing on trains from a local, youth-oriented phenomenon into an artistic movement that would influence the world. By the mid-1970s, his art was also being featured in major galleries throughout New York and Chicago, a trajectory he would continue his whole life, constantly pushing the bounds of expression with various mediums such as wood, print, and vinyl.
In addition to his artwork, P.H.A.S.E. 2 initiated kinesthetic trends in early breaking culture by introducing battle (up)rocking and other dance styles to the burgeoning hip-hop movement. As an affiliate of pioneering DJs such as Grandmaster Flash, he also set the blueprint for early hip-hop flyers with his often emulated “funky-nous deco” designs, innovative use of catch phrases, geometric shapes and artistic collages. Advertising campaigns by brands such as Adidas, Nike, VH1, Eckō, and Netflix continue to utilize P.H.A.S.E. 2’s iconic designs until today.
On the musical side, P.H.A.S.E. 2 helped popularize numerous breakbeats during the early years of hip-hop, including “Pussyfooter” by Jackie Robinson and “Keep On Dancing” by Alvin Cash. He also participated in, and designed the poster for, the seminal “New York City Rap Tour” of 1982, becoming one of the first artists to debut the culture to audiences in Europe. Soon after, he recorded several 12” records which combined rap and R&B together, including “Beach Boy” on Tuff City Records and “The Roxy” on Celluloid Records. Never straying far from his b-boy roots, he also helped assemble the legendary New York City Breakers troupe in 1983 and continued touring around the world, inspiring thousands of adherents through both his art and insight. In the mid-1980s, he served as the creative director and co-editor of the pioneering street art publication IGTimes, becoming one of the foremost voices for artistic integrity and historical truth within the hip-hop movement.
He continued this trajectory of constantly reinventing his art and educating subsequent generations about the principles and evolution of the culture he helped spawn well into the twenty-first century. When news of his passing circulated on December 12, 2019, countless musicians, artists, and cultural enthusiasts around the world publicly expressed their condolences and paid tribute to his unmatched legacy.
On the two-year anniversary of his passing, a hybrid collection of sketches and poems that P.H.A.S.E. 2 produced by hand from a hospital bed in his final months were released in the form of a book featured herein, PRAFODIVI: The Final Writings of P.H.A.S.E. 2