I recently went down to the Dissizit! Compton Compound to paint a spot given to me by Slick, Owner and creative force behind the brand. If you don’t know who Slick is, and you draw or paint characters in graffiti, then you probably owe Slick a “thank you” for using some of the techniques he’s invented.
Slick came to Los Angeles in the mid 1980’s from Hawaii and became affiliated with the K2S Crew. He quickly shot to the top of the graffiti game with shading on his characters, and action poses on his art that felt like there was actual movement going on. Slick partnered up with Risk of WCA to form Aerosolics. The 2 of them upped the standard of graffiti productions again with products like the wall used in the “Whose the Mac/” video for Ice Cube in 1990.
I think one of the things in graffiti, like other “sports”, that spurs on greatness is a great rivalry. This brings me to the story of the Legendary Hex and Slick Battles. I remember them well. I had missed the first battle, coming later to get pictures after the action. I have herd of it over and over from the friends that were there. Everyone says the same thing, “the 2 artists went back and forth. One artist would add something, the other would then add the same element or character, but in a “make fun of” or “better than you” sort of way. The result was epic! The huge walls of the Belmount Tunnels were covered top to bottom, with amazing work. It was hard to call who the winner was because no one had seen a battle this big or talented before in graffiti, ever. And I don’t mean in LA graffiti, I mean in graffiti everywhere. They laid the ground work for what became the modern graffiti production, it was a game changer.
The beef wouldn’t lay though, and there was the Hex and Slick battle #2. This one I have to say it had a different feel. Still amazing work, and this is where Hex introduced his portrait style painting of characters using spray paint (another game changer) But the 2 artists, for the most part, did there own walls, side by side, and there wasn’t the same energy of them working off of each other, and I thought it showed in the finished product. Still huge amazing walls, but maybe missing a little bit of the first battle’s energy. The battle had a media storm, not of just graffiti writers, but also of local news stations and newspapers. It was a circus sideshow by the end and not as pure as the first battle at all. It was a strange moment for Los Angeles graffiti, with the same media that condemned us all the time, showing up to get the scoop. The aftermath of the battle was this, these 2 amazing artists upped the ante on the graffiti production game with size and coverage, but both walked away with a bad taste in their mouth about the outcome and media coverage.
Now for most artists this would have been the peak. Going somewhere no one in graffiti had gone before. But it was just a chapter in Slick’s story. Slick has gone on to create more and more work, slowly but surely building his name bigger and bigger as the years have rolled on. Growing from a Los Angeles heavy hitter, to being a nationwide power, to a now world famous innovator and all time great in both the graffiti, clothing and the art world.
Okay, I have to say this, I am not a hater at all. I will give props to anyone who deserves them for talent, whether I like them personally or not. But I do get pissed off when someone makes or does something so Fresh or Original it actually stirs anger in me for not having thought of it first. I had that feeling a lot at Slick’s place. There were loads of eye candy everywhere, from toys to canvases, from new clothing designs to skateboards, to oldschool collectables, the list goes on and on. Two of my favorites? The LV spraycan characters (that are waist high by the way) and the Spam roll cushion chair with character face. Genius!
The outside and inside walls were covered in beautiful work. Everywhere I looked, and the quality of the showroom and design spaces where top notch. I’ve been to many artists work spaces and showrooms of clothing companies. This is one of the nicest out there. I thank Slick for the invite and talking with me. He has reached a truly humble place in his life, and it shows. Having gotten to the 10 year mark of Dissizit! And showing no signs of slowing down, my baseball hat is off to this amazing artist. Keep your eyes on him for more!