Style Wars

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Published on 8th February 2016 by

Style Wars is a 1983 documentary on early street art and hip hop culture in New York, the film was originally aired on PBS in 1983 but was subsequently aired at numerous film festivals and received widespread critical acclaim. The film has since seen a renaissance in popularity and achieved cult status in hip-hop circles and graffiti enthusiasts who are curious about the birth of their scene.

The film focuses primarily on young artists struggling to express themselves through their street art and gains an insight into their perspective on graffiti, on the flip side it also features those who oppose their culture such as New York mayor Ed Koch, police officers, art critics and subway maintenance workers who were recruited to clean up the growing mess.

One of the young artists to feature is a one armed man who goes by the street name of Kase 2, he lost his arm at the age of 10 after grabbing an electrified 3rd rail on the subway tracks. His real name was Jeff Brown and he passed away in 2011 at the age of 53. Other artists to feature include Skeme, Cap, Dondi, Sheen, and Sky 147, all of whom were amongst the most influential people in the scene at the time.

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