Great interview from Uncapped with the artist RISE:
Ladies and Gents, featured in this week’s Uncapped is our very own Lower East Sider, RISE. We begin with a bio from his email to your eyes…
I first became aware of graffiti or subway train scribbling with vivid colors and big characters when I was kid (6 or 7 yrs old) growing up in NYC. My mom used to take me everywhere with her, as we ran around doing errands and whatnot. I was born and raised in 3 Boroughs: L.E.S, Brooklyn and Queens. I had the opportunity to see all these trains going from Brooklyn over the Williamsburgh Bridge on the way to my grandmother’s apt on 4th and Ave C, and my father in Gouverneur Houses. I witnessed the trains bombed I also was in full view of the UpRockers and BBoys. Every corner we passed there was always someone with a boombox and cardboard spinning on their backs, lol…
My true introduction to graffiti was life-changing; 1984 is when my father passed away. My mom moved us from Bushwick to Ridgewood. During that transition I was fully aware and was hooked. I would stop turn around as the ‘M’ train rolled by Forest Ave Station just to look at the names. Fortunately for me, the apartment I lived in was about 20 feet from the tracks. It was like having a giant screen TV looking at the graff on the train from the rear back window. As I got older, I met more kids that were marker-tagging the neighborhood or writing on desks and blackboards in school. School is where I got more than an education, lol..
It was about 1988, when I was about 12, when I really got into it I settled on a name TASK and ran with it through out Ridgewood. Over the next few years as I honed my skills I grew bored of the name TASK so I played with a few names until I really settled on RISE. In 1992-93 I met SLASH FTR and the rest is history.
BOWERY BOOGIE: Thank you for that intro. Saved me a ton of work. Speaking of history – the very purpose of Uncapped is to document artists continuing the legacy of graff and its connection to NYC. Check AMUZE’s piece (S/O) and the Graffiti Origins piece (S/O UR NY) and now, well now, someone is using it as their mantra and making money off it. So, Rise, what would you do if someone stole from you?
RISE: Punch em in the face, hard….Really hard.
BB: Duly noted. Six or Seven is a young age to start. It’s kinda like skipping the “what I want to do with my life?” that we all struggle with. Graff is it for you. Do you have a day job?
RISE: LMAO. I did kinda know what I wanted to do with my life at a young age; not having a solid family structure sorta molded me to the man I am now…no father growing up so I learned things on my own through trial and error and getting into trouble. If you’re asking if I’m employed, then no, I do not answer to anyone. I don’t punch a clock or worry if I’m late to work. I’m in control of my own destiny. I control how much money I make.
BB: So based on what you told me, the Lower East Side is a borough! I love that and agree (even though it’s not). Do you ever come back?
RISE: I’m always in LES because my family – aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents – is still there. The exterior has changed, but much of the old soul still exists. When entering Gouverneur Houses the pissy elevators never disappoint, lmao.
BB: Ha! I never thought I would agree about missing “pissy” elevators. Yeah. f*ck the new exterior. Greedy bastards tearing down everything. Ok. Moving on. Do you vibe out to music while you paint? Seems like those BBoys had an influence on you…
RISE: Of course I vibe out to music. I have Pandora and throw on 90s hip hop and just get lost in the piece, my peripheral goes blurry and I’m focused…
BB: Yeah, R.I.P to real hip hop. You in any crews or is that a dumb question?
RISE: CREWS? Man sooo many to name.. over the years crews have come and gone, revived and died out again. But if I had to name a few…first and foremost.. FTR CREW!!! Queens NYC.. 20+ years and many more to come.. KOA BBK SIC TPA NGL STF. These crews I’m currently repping with so many from the 90s and 2000s. If I forgot any, my bad, just too many to name. BSK WTO VIC NWC WDD RIP VE ASP PG3 ORO DG TEMER DORO SHINE XIST… SHOUT TO ALL WHO HAVE FALLEN.
BB: Good grief, man! I would’ve checked the grammar, but I have no idea where the acronyms start and end. Best graff experience or craziest story?
RISE: My best graff experience had to be when I got a beep from PG [Millenials, that beep is from a pager or a beeper]. I called him back and he asked if I had paint and if I wanted to go with him to the piers in Williamsburgh. I jumped on my bike and I was at his crib in 5 minutes, lol. He lived in Bushwick and I was on Atlantic Ave. in Brownsville. It was me PG PEMA NAT PEAK REVS and DIVA. PG did my first ever outline. I was so appreciative and in awe of what I was experiencing. Not too many writers get to experience that.
Another story sticks out as the funniest but could’ve went south fast. It was me and NAT KOA, mid 90s right when Woolworth liquidated their stores. I had a crazy idea to rack paint from Woolworth. At first I wanted to buy, but the opportunity presented itself that we were able to basically clear out all of their paint supply. This was the Woolworths down by Flushing Ave train station ‘J’ line, so NAT was outside waiting. I walk out of the store and have my red Columbia jacket lined with paint and two Jansport book bags full clinking and clanging. I get to the door and the security guard looks, shakes his head, smiles and lets me leave. I stash my paint behind the dumpster by Burger King and go back in with NAT. He breaks the case with the paint, glass shatters everywhere. We freeze. No one comes, so we stuff his big-ass duffle bag and take all the Rustos, and as we are about to jet out the same security guard catches us, but again he doesn’t say or do anything. We got away with about 100 cans in that one session.
BB: Woolworths! The security guards were probably over it since they most likely lost their jobs. Lol. By the way, I gotta tell you- the fact that you spell Williamsburgh the original way- props. Do you think you’ll do this til the day you die? Tell us about the rush…
RISE: Maybe not till the day I die. I will paint for as long as I enjoy it. once I no longer enjoy it I’m done. The rush for me are the compliments. Something I created someone else enjoys.
BB: Ever get into any legal (ahem) trouble?
RISE: First time I got caught I was doing a rooftop with NUKE BMF. I was 15- this was early 90s dead of winter. It was a short roof maybe 9-10 ft high. We were seen by blue and white. Nuke dove into an exhaust vent and was actually going to hang/jump into a pile of snow but I didn’t want to leave NUKE behind, so I buried myself in snow, but they weren’t stupid.We got bagged, taken in and got a DAT.
BB: I’m sorry, but did you say you buried yourself in snow and NUKE dove into a vent?
I gotta pause to picture this in my head and laugh...
Anywho, there are a bunch of Emcees named Rise. Yes, a bunch. Does anyone ever confuse you with someone else?
RISE: Graff, Djing and emceeing these are different elements; never got confused between the elements. I’ve gotten confused with another writer (writers) with RISE, but they all been shut down by yours truly.
BB: Shut ’em down? Do tell.
There have been other RISEs in the past, people grow and do other things in life thus abandoning the name, I know in their hearts they still have love for graff, but can’t physically do it anymore leaving an opportunity open for others to pick the name. When I started writing RISE, I had no clue there were others, but by that time I was already a good 5-6 yrs in; there was no way I was gonna change it. Who do you think of when u hear RISE? Me, not them.
BB: Ok. Ok. Give us one inspirational quote or mantra that you live by.
RISE: Stay real, never assimilate.
Word. Follow RISE @rise_FTR on IG. ’til then, peace yall!