Art Crimes: Shout out names in "The Cypher"
Joseph: BIG, Snoop Doggy Dog, Black Thought of the Roots, Shaheim, A-Plus, Saafir, JERU THE DAMAGER (A TRUE MC with his own mind!!!!!), RAGE, Redman, the Artifacts, OUTKAST (ATL what's up what's up!), Craig Mack, Method Man, NAS, Common Sense (now COMMON).
"The Cypher" is a pivotal piece in my career because I was deep into those covered at the time. I was trying to be a lot more accepting of the way most people expressed themselves on the mic. It was hard to be entranced by a tight beat and hear some things that were straight skill and others that I would never condone. I still appreciate a lot of the MCs in "The Cypher" and others I had to exit or edit from my diet because I could not surpass the fact that ignorance was out of control in a lot of the work. Since then I've swung my Jazz window wide open to hear emotions of tone, harmony, and beat without lyrics that persuade.
Jazz greats and contemporaries have the same ills of Hip hop but there's a big difference in words and sounds. I look for that tie to the Drum and the Soul of my people. Money has tried to kill my people. The New World Order warnings in Hip Hop often come from those who play all the part they can in selling their simple souls. Then there are those who come true and admit that life is not a video set or what everyone else said and said they would die to defend.
I would like to thank Mac McGee (ATL, hope I got the last name write homie) for his B-boy essence in the piece "B-boy Refuting Time and Space". This piece was mistitled in ACA's latest catalog and now I let the world know the real title because it's powerful. Ones who break can go against time and define their own space within a dance cypher. They are in another reality when they dance. Breaking and its many styles have overcome time and space for its recognition. In short definition - they refute Time and Space.
Art Crimes: What do I think about the grammar or dogma of spraycan art? I see you "color outside the lines" - you violate the "rules" in some ways. Is that a protest on your part - a distancing of some kind, or are you breaking out into a new direction?
Joseph: I am "new direction". I'm the NEW ART ORDER with the areas I cover in my world. I do this thing according to how I see it. Some folks in graffiti would say you don't do graffiti if you haven't ever done a train, a wall, spraycan only, chased by cops, been to jail, had beef and went to violence to settle it, seen people shot, shot at people, put the rest of your life on the line, write with marker only.....
What the ?
That other shit can fuck up your karma, add some ill character, or it can kill you! - How much conditioning is needed by an individual before they recognize what is them and what is not. I'm not nasty letters from kids in graf mags wasting paper, I'm the art that doesn't say any of that petty shit! I'm a MAN! Art is personal and outer. If I did a monumental gallery show with a design that is obviously from a graffiti origin and it is 3D, leaping, untouchable computer graffiti styles, a sculpture, a fucking movie, would I not have represented? Am I now commercial? Who give a UMMPH what an unTHOROUGH, wanna claim ARTIST, piece of shit thinks. They will never inspire or get their best ideas out because of LIMITS. FUCK THEM SIMPLE ASS LIMITS!!!! No one else who is looked at as a GENIUS has LIMITS. I don't care what level of thought they're on. They go all out, because when it comes to you in your mind it doesn't censor.
If you tell people that they are not real unless they go through what you go through then you don't know the meaning of life! I know I'm flipping but I just want those who know what I'm saying to keep doing what they're doing and not what some speck in the galaxy of untuned thought would have them pursue! If Outkast of Atlanta had decided that the section of Atlanta culture they came from has not been good enough for Hip Hop, because it was Southern rooted and not from mother New York, then where the hell would the evolution of the music be now! Mother Hip Hop gave birth to all types of talent and she did not care how fucked up your life had been, or where you were from, or if you wore certain gear, or if you were well off, or hairstyles, or, or, shit.... Ya'll know what it is! And you know who you are! Find Your SELF and BE RIGHT!
Art Crimes: What's the graffiti scene like in Atlanta?
Joseph: the graffiti scene in ATL? Is that where I'm from?!
I'm from me and those who are a part of me. I'm from southern, northern, western, and eastern roots. I so happened to have been born in Atlanta. I love the land and those on it that love me, as with anywhere!
The graffiti scene in ATL is small but talented. There are plenty of Black kids I know here who would love to do some public work on walls that are rubbish from old buildings and such. Still they know that the same cops that pass right by White kids painting in broad daylight downtown -- open spots that are considered legal -- would probably bust them or harass them for simple suspicion. This is why I tell people to think about who they are. Realize what is important to you. If you are down for that, then please do it with respect and don't take anyone with you that doesn't have the same deck of cards.
Realize what is REAL to YOU. Basically there's an old saying by my Old folks round here (that's right, some of us still listen!) - it goes, "DON'T FUCK AROUND WITH SHIT YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT. THAT'S WHEN YOU LOOSE YOUR ASS!!!!!"
Art Crimes: I've heard old school b-boys and writers discuss the similarities of breaking and writing and scratch, and since you see yourself in the same genre (or is hip-hop too limiting for you?), I wonder how you think brush and canvas painting fits in. Is it important for all writers to explore these mediums?
Joseph: Hip Hop is not limiting to anyone as long as one has some understanding of which levels apply to their life and which do not. I myself refuse to have anyone tell me that I can't do a graffiti- styled piece with other mediums besides a can or marker. I took it upon myself to learn the use of a can for self. I wanted to be thorough in the way things were originally done in graffiti styles. I'm still adjusting somewhat but it wasn't hard. I was already more in tune with pens, markers, brush, and other non-air mediums. It should well understood that I am not a Graffiti artist. I am an Artist. I practice the "isms" of graffiti. I have no limits other than those I place on myself!
Any one who's afraid to paint with say oil and brush should deal with it when they're ready. I feel that if you draw, you should experiment with as many variations of drawing as possible. That is all the can, the brush, the pen are - variations on an essential understanding of drawing!
Art Crimes: How much do your pieces address specific audiences?
Joseph: My pieces are free for all to experience but I do tend to get the best feedback from those who have the same genre interest, spiritual beliefs, culture, race, upbringing, dreams, and so on, as I do.
Art Crimes: Should the audience always be considered in public art?
Joseph: I don't know if "public" is meant to address outdoors (murals) or indoors (galleries and such) - but I'll answer for both. Whether it's public or indoors I feel like the artist should first address his / her original intentions. We must satisfy ourselves first. I have a poetic prophecy that looks at my work as children. Children that are conceived and well developed (with no retardations) before they are born. Once they leave my soul they must be nurtured and sheltered by me to be equipped to go out into the world and preach my principles (represent my name). Since I know that I won't always be around to defend them, I have to make sure that they can speak for themselves. Thus, "my work speaks for itself."
If my work is that strong I don't have to worry about how it will be represented or seen, because those who I taught and those who know the history of where I come from will always destroy the myths and false interpretations of the outside world. Only those who are part of me in some way will ever begin to understand my art. Still, it can inspire all.
Much respect to JOSEPH R WHEELER, III (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the incredible time and patience he put into his art and this interview.