It’s really strange when you literally lived through an entire period of a music scene and still missed so much. I have know Freddy Alva since 1988 or so (meeting him where else but at CBGB’s). Since he pretty much grew up in NYC, he was very close to the goings on of the ever growing graffiti culture that the city bred like weeds in a lawn. I do remember him showing me these “black books” of his, small books where graffiti writers would do a piece in them and it became a collection of unique pieces of art. While I was always interested in it, I never paid too much attention at the time. Maybe because where we all hung out, graffiti of all types was everywhere. It was “normal”. It was on every wall, street, cars, trucks, etc… and of course the subways which I was fortunate enough to see before the big clean up in the late 1980’s. Freddy was more into it than I at the time and lucky for us, he put together a tome that collects the art and people associated with the New York City Hardcore scene were we apart of and the graffiti that came with it.
The book covers the years of 1980-1995 and all the people involved. It’s told through interviews and remembrances, graffiti crews that were around and of course the images of the work. It is interesting to hear some of the people I knew back then, talk about graffiti and the influence if had on their lives. Back then, we really only talked music, so so much of this was new to me. The most important thing here is the art. If you have a huge collection of street art, graffiti and graffiti history books like I do, rest assured, Urban Styles has images that have not been published elsewhere. Strangely enough, I was at like every show during this time period and was handed flyers on the regular. This book has flyer art that I have never seen before. I was actually taken aback at points reading this book because of that fact. It just goes to show that Freddy was very thorough while researching and putting this thing together.
Graffiti has a long history and what Urban Styles covers is just a small part of it. If this book didn’t exist, sadly this crucial part of the whole picture would be lost to time. From what I understand, the book is close to sold out. I really hope the publishers decide to reprint it. Anyone who is a fan of this style of art really needs to add this to your book collection, one of the best books on the subject. Period.
Urban Styles Facebook Group
Interview with Freddy Alva on Urban Styles