4 Of The Most Interesting Graffiti Art Beefs
From Caravaggio killing a dude in a drunken brawl to Andy Warhol getting shot over a play, artists of all kinds are a volatile bunch. Street art is no different. Conflict between artists has brought some great creativity to the scene. Here are four graffiti art beefs that show the king of conflicts street artists see.
Banksy Vs Robbo
Robbo was one of the earliest true graffiti artists in London and definitely its first king. One of his most well known pieces was a 1985 tag he did in Camden. Despite being bombed over the years, nobody tried to replace the piece for over two decades. In 2009, Banksy incorporated the piece into a piece of his own.
Despite having been out of the game a long time, this perceived slight drew King Robbo out. Robbo went for the throat by reworking Banksy’s piece and the graf community started paying attention.
You couldn’t write a better conflict between the old and new skool than King Robbo versus Banksy and anyone with an opinion about graffiti art took a side. Adding fuel to the fire was a story about Robbo and Banksy from back in the day where the unknown Banksy claimed to have never heard of Robbo.
Banksy fired back with a blatant shot. King Robbo shot back with something more subtle. It went on like this for a while until there came what seemed like a sudden end to everything. Banksy threw up a sketch of Robbo’s original piece and news began to spread of Robbo’s tragic death after an accident.
It’s as good of an ending as can come from something like this. Despite the rivalry, Robbo’s death saw a show of respect from Banksy and the rest of the graffiti community in London.
The downside is, it didn’t end there. Robbo’s crew took it upon themselves to ignore the concession Banksy had made and continued going after his pieces.
Cope2 Vs HOW
While it’s not on the same scale as some of the other beefs in graffiti art, it’s important to note for how much violence can spread into the scene.
New York’s Bowery Street graffiti art wall has seen some great pieces over the years but with everyone being proud of their pieces it’s not uncommon for friction to come when one gets covered.
Whether this or something else was the cause of the beef between Cope2 and HOW, it’s hard to say. Cope2 was at the wall to watch Futura 2000 finish a piece when members of Tats Cru showed up. Apparently one Tats Cru member, HOW, accused Cope2 of being a snitch given his links with police and the owners of the graffiti wall. Cope says that what really set it off was HOW pulling a broken piece of glass and threatening him with it in front of his kids.
According to How, Cope responded by pulling a gun which seemed to end it quick. Cope2 was picked up later by police and let go within a few hours which spurred on more claims of him being a police informant. Given that HOW was the only person who saw Cope with a gun, who knows what to trust.
CAP Vs Morris Park Crew (and everyone else)
The Morris Park Crew were one of New York’s most prolific graffiti crews back in the day. They were a pillar of the scene early on but were kind of seen as the bad guys. This wasn’t without reason though, members of the crew had been beefing with others like Dondi, Min and Blade over the years. In 2009, nearly thirty years after the fact, MPC gave some insight into why this was.
MOC weren’t exactly a tight knit collective. There were a few members at the core who were consistent and a bunch of friends and other artists involved to varying degrees. One of those was CAP. CAP came up with the second round of MPC members but according to the 200 newsletter they released he was never considered a talented artist within the group. He made his name within the group by tagging other artists work and starting beef. When another artist would go after one of the crew, he’d be the first to jump into it, claiming to have his boys backs but causing more beef in the process.
MPC put the blame on him for the majority of their beefs and it’s not hard to see why. His appearance in the Style Wars documentary in ‘83 makes it clear the guy didn’t care much for respecting other artists.
Fume and Bozo Vs The Old Skool
In the late nineties the London graffiti scene broke off from the rest of the country. A generation of hardcore young artists, critical of their elders took graffiti art back to its roots while also making it something completely different.
When graffiti became more accepted as an art form, the new skool wanted to make it less consumable. As far as Bozo and Fume were concerned, graffiti was a war against the establishment. It belonged on trains and in the underground. Respecting the place you tagged and working within it meant giving up what graffiti was supposed to be about.
The beef came to a head during a Unity meet up between graf crews. Fume,Bozo and around twenty members of their crew ended up getting into it with pretty much everyone else in attendance. What sparked it was one of their group stealing spray paint from a crew who’d come from outside of London. They considered it a tax on artists coming in who had yet to prove themselves. Not many people agreed and it kicked off a huge fight.
While the Unity crowd kind of won out against the new skool’s attempts to keep graffiti punk, the impact on the scene is still visible.