Philadelphia graffiti, where to begin: the supposed birthplace of graffiti, originators of style and “getting up”. Today in Philadelphia when thinking of getting up, three writers come to mind, and they bring the style too not just the reputation. CAT, KARMA, and SASEP are all over the city in every part possible.
Cat and Karma come from the legendary Philadelphia graffiti crew Klub International Wall Writers or KIW for short. Donald Nasty (DN) and Kee created KIW in the early 1980’s, after DN attempted to get into the so-called club-to-be-in back then, Hip City Swingers. Donald’s best friend Breck was in that club. DN’s hand wasn’t fully developed yet and he wasn’t accepted into the crew. KEE was introduced to graffiti in 74-75 when a truck rolled up to Breck and him, and Breck asked him to read it. On the truck was Wee, Kee couldn’t read it and from that day on he was hooked. That’s when DN and him decided to start their own club.
Hip City Swingers is no longer around, but Cat and Karma and a few other writers are keeping Klub International Wall Writers on top of the map. Karma, a female in the game, has a variety of styles that have developed to perfection over the years. Philadelphia is known for wicked tags, the only place in the world with that style. Philadelphia style and tags are very traditional; many writers learn how to write from someone from the previous generation. Philadelphia is about writing fast and getting as many hits or tags in as possible, which is how the scratchy narrow tags evolved, along with a little influence of gangster hands (markings of territory done by gangs) to the modern wicked. Tab is one of the first writers credited for having a wicked tag.
Karma’s wicked is top notch and without a doubt of the cleanest and best tags on the streets these days. Cat has a nice wicket as well, but is mostly known for his legible “stamp” tag. A stamp is known, as a tag that someone does repeatedly over and over and with just a glimpse of the first letter you should be able to identify the tag. People may try and hate on Cat’s tag for just being so simple, but he has an argument that can’t be beat, “It’s everywhere and up more than you”. Karma is also known for her stamp, which she smacks all over the city.
Sasep on the other hand is an innovator of style, every week I see a new sasep hand on the street and get blown away every time. He does it all from throws up to marker tags, Sasep, in the last few years has been getting up more and more. To this day, his tags always surprise me. He writes with a crew called IAS meaning In All Spots, this crew doesn’t have the longevity like KIW but it is definitely picking up heavy hitters that will help it live long on. Goose who first started writing with the legendary crew ICP Imperial Casanova Persuaders started the crew, but we’ll leave ICP for another time.
Thanks to Joseph Cawley for the contribution. Catch him on Instagram @joe_jangles.