I have a mission for those of you who are fans of the Philadelphia graffiti scene. Actually, when I say a mission, I actually mean a challenge. Travel around the city for about two hours, and look at every single element of graff that you see. I all but guarantee that within that stretch of time you will see at least one tag from BAM. He is a bomber that definitely gets everywhere, and since 2010, he has been going hard to get his name out there by any means necessary. In addition to being a bomber and a member of the legendary ICP crew, BAM is a really awesome and interesting guy to speak with. It’s unfortunate that I can’t publish our entire conversation, because this is a man passionate about Philly, its graffiti scene, and the people that make both of the aforementioned things so great. It’s my pleasure to present to you my interview with BAM.
Chris: How long have you been writing graff?
BAM: I started writing in 1991, but it was on and off. I resurfaced around 2010 and have been writing since.
Chris: How did you get started writing graffiti?
BAM: There were these two dudes that lived on my block at 15th and Fairmount when I was growing up named King Buck and Ce-Ism that would always be doing it. So I came up with the name Bad-Ass Mike and I just ran with it. They was always writing, and I would break-dance, so the two worlds often tied together. When I was 15 I moved uptown and I met SPAN (rest in peace), and we started doing our thing together. Then I started running around with SONER. After that, I got married and moved to Delaware. When I moved back to Philly in 2010, people was wondering where I was. I don’t like doing books, I’d rather go straight to the walls. I will walk the routes one side of the city to the other, fifteen cans minimum, and I will write until the paint is completely gone.
Chris: Who are some writers that you admire and respect?
BAM: My favorite writer is MB. That’s what I wanted to be like. I would always be in the house emulating his letters and that great smiley jawn he does. It’s what I aspired to be like. I respect RASAD a lot too. He remind me of myself, but older. He’s like a fan; we be really passionate about this shit. I’m divorced and I don’t got a job, so I’m going hard as shit. BARD, GEEZ, and my sidekick GOOSE I definitely respect, as well as my ICP and PIV crews. I respect anybody that go hard and write. I’m a big fan of the whole 80’s situation since I grew up with it. All those dudes…NORM, KSB, my man DERM…all them dudes near the Richard Allen Projects I used to see painting growing up. Back in the day, you would see people bombing. I loved that shit, and I’d always think, “Damn that shit look cool.” I knew once I got older that I would be writing.
Chris: Can you share your best/worst experience you’ve had while writing graff?
BAM: Fortunately, I’ve never had a bad experience. I only got the good. Here’s a story. Me, RASAN, OZ, YNK, and LR hooked up and we wrote for twenty-four hours from one afternoon to the next afternoon. It was my first rooftop with OZ. I used to see his shit on the EL and knew I wanted to do one of those.
A funny story from that day was we were at Kensington and Allegheny and the last bus of the night was running. YNK stopped the bus for a while, claiming he couldn’t find money or a transpass or whatever…and we all hit the back of the bus. We all got the back of the 48 bus at K&A. A couple hours later, we saw the bus pulling out again on its first route of the day. YNK stopped the bus, we hit the back of the bus again. YNK got off the bus, but the light was red so obviously the bus couldn’t move, so YNK was able to hit that jawn too. Everyone was hitting it, and it was so cool to hit it again.
Chris: Do you have any unwritten rules that you keep for yourself while out bombing?
BAM: I just try to stay away from the brown walls. That’s the color that the buff seems to have the most of. I also like to glove-up, but that’s a personal preference of mine.
Chris: What is it like being in ICP with some of Philadelphia’s best and most visible writers?
BAM: It was an honor when SOBAD and all them called me up and asked me. SATAN and SOBAD, I grew up seeing their work. They went crazy with it. I used to sit at my crib and imitate them, so it was definitely an honor for me to be called by them.
Chris: Has your personal style of writing evolved over time?
BAM: It has. When I first started writing, the “BAM” was all lower-case. I had been writing my hand the same way for a long time, but then I started adding the lower-case ”a” to the capital letters. It was like I was remixing that shit. That’s why I like to have so many aliases, because it gets boring writing the same three letters all the time. It’s cool seeing my name, but it’s even more cool seeing something different. It’s important to play with different letters and styles to keep your hand tight too.
Chris: Do you think graffiti and graffiti writers are misunderstood?
BAM: No, not at all. I don’t think that. People know what’s graff and what’s vandalism. There’s really very little to be misunderstood.
Chris: Any final thoughts on Philly graff or shoutouts to give?
BAM: A lot of people got sons and shit. Some dudes are really inquisitive and got the drive, so that’s really cool to me. My partner GOOSE wanted to retire because it was like nobody was getting up but us. What makes it fun is when we put something up, and other people add to it. So we can go back the next day and be like, ”Oh shit, they was out too?!” We work hard, and we want other people to tear it up with us.
Big up to MB, JK, DUCK, DONSKI, DERM, LM, OMNE, DENSKE, BOZA, STAGE, BANX, SAEZ, OZ, ELAR, YNK, KRAZY, the whole ICP, IXU, CAZE, RASAD, KEECH, SR, BLASS, SLEAZ, SNIPE, GOOSE, GEEZ, NATEROCK, BE, BARD, BM, NORM, SOCK, TNT, KNOX, DHS, TRK, RNF, LOL, PIV, IAS, COZY, BLOOM, NAR, VERN, KEE, LARON, FIT KRAN, REAPS, SEAZ, CRESE, REDRUM, MIKO, BABY, SAND, KLARK, KB, SASE, AEZER, RAME, MEN, LOBO, DAO, KRISIS, RACK, BARK, TAIM, and GOLDY.
Also, rest in peace SPAN, MIC.1., BAELOokc.1., and my man PROPERups.1. THE FALLEN SOLDIERS, SALUTE.
Also, big ups to all the writers who can write!
I’d like to take the time to personally thank BAM for taking the time out of his day to talk to me about his craft. It was a lot of fun for me to speak to a guy who I see virtually everywhere I go on the walls, trucks, street lights, utility poles, etc. A special thank you to 215graff.com as well for supplying most of the images for this post. Also, a special shoutout to my man KEECH for once again helping me out with getting this interview processed.
If you liked BAM’s interview, make sure you check out other Philly graff interviews with:
…and make sure you visit our friends at 215graff.com for more pictures of BAM’s work. Stay tuned to LOLadelphia for more interviews with some of Philly’s best graff writers.