When I first started paying attention to graffiti a few years ago, I noticed that one of the names I started seeing almost everywhere I went was CAZE. Whether it was in the subway riding the Broad Street Line, walking to work in North Philadelphia, or riding the trolley to visit friends in West Philadelphia, it didn’t matter. I would see something by CAZE every single place I went. In addition to being a well-rounded and excellent writer, he’s also a really awesome guy as well. Therefore, it is my pleasure to present my interview with a legend in Philadelphia graff: CAZE!
Chris: How long have you been writing graff?
CAZE: I started in 1984 in books. I started writing on walls seriously in 2009.
Chris: How did you get started writing graffiti?
CAZE: I had a family friend named MEKA in a group called SAM1, and he had a lot of pieces along the EL. After that, I was friends with FAD i2i around 1985, and I would go to his house at 46th and Kingsessing and do books after school.
Chris: Is there any piece you have done that you are particularly proud or fond of?
CAZE: I’m not proud of anything. I’m not satisfied with anything I paint.
Chris: Who are some graff writers whom you have a lot of respect for?
CAZE: From Philly, I have a lot of respect for JK, ADS, RAN, CAEM, SONER, TNT, JRSTAR, KRSTAR, ESPO, RAZZ (rest in peace), and MB. From New York, I got respect for COPE2, DONDI, PART, NEED, SKEME, and from Europe: CAN2 and BATES.
Chris: What is your best experience and what is your worst experience you’ve had while writing graff?
CAZE: I’ll start with my worst experience. I was out one night with ZOD, KEECH, and GEEZ in South Philly, and I told ZOD to watch out for me. Instead of watching, he was watching me paint and started tagging himself. The cops sneaked up on us and I caught my first graff case, but I beat it just like I’ve beaten all the others.
My best experience is every time I go into the Broad Street Line North tunnel by myself. I love the adrenaline and the rush of the trains going by. I only go down in the tunnel and paint while the trains are running.
Chris: Can you describe your craziest night of bombing?
CAZE: The night IXU got shot at in North Philly near Tioga was crazy. I was so worried when I saw that. I was in and out of police cars all night. The police let me go because they were convinced I wasn’t a writer.
Chris: Do you follow a set of unwritten rules while bombing?
CAZE: I follow my own set of unwritten rules. No schools, and no religious institutions. No mosques, synagogues, churches. No livable houses, but abandons and stucco walls they put up when a house has a fire are fine because they aren’t part of the house itself. Any work trucks or box trucks are open. I don’t care if they are all perfectly white. I will write on it.
Chris: How has your style evolved in the time you’ve been writing graff?
CAZE: I have hundreds of styles in books, but it’s a process of elimination in the streets. Blackbooks and what is on the street is completely different. I want to cover all areas of graff. Characters, bubble letters, box letters…and all the other stuff. I have lots of different hand styles, but I chose one that is safe for me, and effective for the general public to recognize.
Chris: Your name often comes up as one that many graff writers have a lot of respect and admiration for. How does it feel to have such a positive rep in Philly?
CAZE: It feels great to have a positive reputation. I don’t want to be characterized as a low-life or a drug addict. I’m respectful of all writers and what they do.
Chris: Any final thoughts on Philly graff and any shoutouts to give??
CAZE: I think people look down on Philly graff because we are not united. Philly graff is hands-down the most unique style in the world. We will show our strengths and prowess to other cities in the near future by participating in various graff events.
Shoutouts to MEKA, ESPO, the ICP crew, REPOZ, and my sons Tre and RAE.
It was definitely a pleasure getting to talk to CAZE about something he is extremely passionate about. If you’re unfamiliar with him, just start paying attention to some of the graffiti you see in the city and chances are you will see his name somewhere. I’d like to thank CAZE for taking the time to talk to me, extend special thanks to IXU and KEECH for helping me out with this interview.
If you liked this interview, check out my interviews with other Philly graffiti writers:
If you wish to see more of CAZE, visit our friends at 215graff.com.