Chances are, if you pay attention to graffiti and know how to read it, you know OZ. The streets of Philadelphia have been OZ’s playground for almost three decades. He is one of Philadelphia’s most well-known bombers, and in addition to being an awesome guy, is a man with a deep respect for the city and its rich graffiti history. To put OZ’s graff career into perspective, he has been bombing longer than I have been alive on this earth. It was a pleasure to be able to pick a legend’s brain, and learn more about one of Philadelphia’s best bombers.
Chris: How long have you been writing graffiti?
OZ: 27 years of madness!
Chris: How did you get started writing graffiti?
OZ: I guess I got my start by riding alone on the EL and looking at the roof tops, seeing guys like MB, EZ, PEP, CREDIT, RAZZ, RABE, KADISM, and LUX.
Chris: What is your best experience writing graff, and what is your worst experience?
OZ: My best experience in writing is when me an OZO did this rooftop along I-95, I have always wanted to do that roof top and I told myself one day I will have that roof, and I got it. I did this in 1995. It took us about 6 hours maybe longer to do this, and till this day people still call this the white trash roof top.
My worst experience is was when I got my ass kicked by two cops in 2007, plus I made the front page on the Daily News.
Chris: Can you describe what a day or night of bombing usually entails?
OZ: Can’t really say. I just go with it. I’ll beat my paint, grab some nozzles, and I’m off doing my thing.
Chris: Is there a certain code or set of unwritten rules that you follow while bombing?
OZ: Yes, when bombing the tunnels have respect and watch who you go over. There is lots of history down there.
Chris: Who are some writers that you admire or respect?
OZ: I respect all writers before me and after me.
Chris: There are a lot of people in Philadelphia who believe graffiti serves no purpose other than destroying property. How do you respond to this criticism that some people have?
OZ: Well, the people are right. It is destroying property, but I don’t give a damn. I’m a bomber and that’s what I do.
Chris: Any crazy stories to share from a day or night of bombing?
OZ: Me, JESTER, and CHE were down South Philly. We were broad daylight bombing, and I decided to write my name on this wall. This big dude comes out says, “Hey, what are you doing?” So I started running, and I ran past JESTER yelling, “Run!” JESTER stuck his foot out and tripped the dude. He slid around the sidewalk. I found out later that day it was a bike club. Then we hopped in a car to do the roof top on the Sears Tower (formerly in Northeast Philly). At 10:00AM we started doing throw up tags straight letter while cars were driving passed. People were yelling, and we didn’t care. We just did our thing. That’s when graff was at its best, was during the 90s.
Chris: You have been writing for a long time. How has Philly graffiti evolved over the years?
OZ: Graff really hasn’t evolved that much. People now-a-days just write to write, and wants respect when respect is earned and not given. Everyone wants to be king. My thing on that is if you don’t have NP, SP, SWP, WP, and NEP, and so on…you are not king. Through the 80’s and 90’s, people had a love for and everyone was a bomber. We all had respect for each other. I miss the days bombing with my partners in crime KL and NAX when we were out there killing shit.
Chris: Any final thoughts/shoutouts to give?
OZ: To all young buck writers and new jacks, get a hand and practice your name. Learn your history and respect those who came before you because us old heads paved the way as those before us did. Shout to my team and family at IYA. I’d also like to thank KEECH for hooking me up with this interview. All respect due to all my boys/fans and crews out there. One love OZ- IYA.
Huge thank you to OZ for taking the time to chat with us about something that has been a part of his life for such a long period of time. OZ is a truly a local legend, it was a pleasure getting to talk to him about his craft. I’d also like to extend my sincere gratitude to KEECH for his role in helping me out with this interview. Thanks, KEECH!
Check out our other Philly graff interviews with:
…and check out more of OZ’s work from our friends at 215graff.com,