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Old School to Middle School

Pioneering Era (’72-’78)
The Old School (’79-’82)
The Middle School (a.k.a The drum machine era, ‘83-’85)

Here we find the happenings in Chicago at a minimum. As the titles of the eras suggest, the culture had just begun to grow. The focus of attention was on New York and a few neighboring cities. More than anything it was the breaking crews in this era that dominate the scene. They became the foundation of the Chicago scene with many B-Boy crews were already making a name for themselves; D.T.R (Down To Rock, Krazy Krew, Floormasters (the crew stretched from the North to the South side), TopTen, Out To Rock, Freeze Crew, The B-boys, The Freshboys, Windy City Breakers, Hypnotic Rockers, Los Ninos, etc… It was many of the breakers who would later go on to become some of the key Graf writers in the city.

By ‘82 the Graf scene was very active with several known crews hitting up all sides of the city; CTA, ABC, MPC, TCP, ACW, CAR CREW, MOSA, IAC, OTR, GGC, GBC (w/Crazyman), CISA, GAS, BTB, FCA, AIM, GMC, SMOG, & The HITMEN. From there, things slowly began to take shape…


New York Graf writer, Nick Salsa, moves to Chicago and starts bombing the city and becomes recognized as the first local writer. Later he starts the first known Chicago Graf crew; C.T.A.


Casper-”Groovy Ghost Show ” 12″ (first Hip Hop release from a Chicago artist although it’s not generally known that it was a Chicago based recording)


Graf Writers Slang & Trixster started getting their names up and out there.

Key innovator, Caution, known for being the first to paint Chicago scenery into his backgrounds (other artists usually drew New York backgrounds based on their influences) also hits the scene.


Plee Fresh hits Chicago from New York and helps pioneer the Chicago Graf scene. He meets up with Stane (a.k.a Akbar) and Kaos to form T.C.P (The Crowd Pleasers). As he gets more involved he sets his goals, “I wanted to see Graf everywhere. I wanted to bring Hip Hop music to Chicago. My goal was to make Chicago like New York”-PLee Fresh

On The Fourth Of July the C.T.A crew becomes the 1st to Bomb the Ravenswood Yard and hit virtually every train in sight.

Robert Cliemente School (Division/Western)-starts having regular Graffiti classes for their students. The teachers gave lessons and regularly brought in various guests from varying crews.

University of Chicago station WHPK introduces their first Hip Hop radio show. The founders, K-III & Patrick Moxy (also the founder of Payday records) initially started the show with a dance & rap format, but the popularity of rap was heavily reflected in the requests and eventually they became strictly rap.


The Muralists, painters Roberto Valedez & Ray Patlan, held regular art fairs on 18th Street and would invite Writers (ex: Zore, Fess a.k.a Freezario, Nick Salsa, Caution) down to do pieces. Making them among the first “outsiders” to help the culture by not just giving them a place to paint, but supplies as well.

Chicago’s first organized Graffiti Art competition at Harrison Park

Chicago’s first Graffiti Art Show, “Rapid Enamel” at the Renaissance Society at the U of C Bergman Gallery, Cobb Hall.


“Rappin Duke” 12″ (The “duh-ha-ha-ha” was undoubtably widely known). However, again it’s not generally recognized as a Chicago release. It fit nicely in this time of Hip Hop paying homage to T.V. shows & Hollywood as The “Duke” dropped rhymes in his best John Wayne voice and let us know about Hip Hop cowboy style.

Chicago Bears-”Superbowl Shuffle” 12″(Although some may wince at the thought of the Chicago Bears being “pioneers” of Chicago rap, it certainly can’t be overlooked).

Chicago Graffiti writers unite for the first time for an”All City Writers” meeting in Cabrini Green at the YMCA. A plan set in place by key Graf writer, Warp.

Northwestern’s WNUR 89.3 captivates the Hip Hop generation on Saturday afternoons with “The All Rap Party” with DJS Larry Lar & Sweet M.D.

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