No one was seriously hurt, but Common Ground chose to shut down Chalfant’s show. However, buzz surrounding the show—coupled with the momentum from Sally Banes’s landmark Village Voice article, “Physical Graffiti: Breaking is Hard to Do,” which published two weeks prior—led to three more shows popping up at the venue, and gigs for the Rock Steady Crew at numerous summer festivals.
One standoff couldn’t stall that year’s swell of media coverage around hip-hop and its related exhibitions. A new generation of New York MCs and graffiti artists were rapidly attracting attention from music producers and collectors.
Leading that generation was Freddy, né Fred Brathwaite, the pioneering artist who had his fingers in everything from graffiti and rapping to acting—notably in Charlie Ahearn’s cult classic Wild Style.
But the wheels were in motion long before the 1980s. “A lot of people think the whole idea of a DJ with two turntables started in the Bronx with Kool Herc,” Freddy said. “But it didn’t.”
In fact, mobile DJs had been using rudimentary mixing set-ups to string fragments from disco and funk records into a seamless mix as far back as the ’60s. These musicians were also among the first graffiti artists. Back then, it wasn’t uncommon to see, say, Brooklyn’s Grandmaster Flowers’s “Flowers + Dice” tag thrown up in black marker around New York.