Cope 2

This interview is © copyright 2006 Art Crimes and Cope 2. The photos were provided by Cope2. Artwork is © copyright 2006 the artists: Cope 2, Indie, Fafi, Jonone 156, Ovie, Jee.

Cope 2 is one of the most famous New York City graffiti writers worldwide for any number of good reasons. Here are just a few: He's been up for decades. He travels the world going to jams and festivals where he good-naturedly signs everyone's blackbook. He's in all kinds of video and print media including his own video and book. His styles are both versatile and personally distinctive whether they be wildstyle or simple quickie. He's gone to the wall for graffiti in all the ways that count, and despite the inevitable Big Apple beef, he's still at it. It's hard to see a bubble-letter throwup and not give a nod to Cope 2.

It's 2006. How long have you been writing, and which crews are you a part of? Wow, I've been writing for a pretty long time now, since around 1979-80 when graffiti writing on the New York subways was really taking off. My cousin Chico80 was my major influence, but riding the subways and watching these amazing names go by was my real influence.

I saw writers like Comet and Blade!! They were incredible!! Such an impact. They are true legends. I remember those amazing hot Dondi cars, Mark198, Fritos, Kit117, Jem and Jay, the MG boys from Mosholou Parkway where I grew up. I met Rip7. He showed me a lot of stuff, but it was Mitch77 and Med Disco, Latin artist, who I was so crazy about.

I always wanted to be like Mitch77. He was and is my idol. The style of this writer was ultimate. Trust me, he needs an award for true style master, but other writers like Ban2.OTB were awesome. That's where I got my #2 from. I loved how he killed the insides the best besides Duro CIA! Dez, Skeme. IZ! Zephyr, T-kid, Seen, Cap, Minone, Rex167, Trap, Case2, Duel, Pjay!

I can go on. These are all writers I looked up to, but it was in 1982 I started my crew KD! Kids Destroy, with Spel, Reo, Am1, Kie, Ston3. That was the crew until I became king of the #4 line in 1983, after Spin, Delta2 and Sharp! I made it into Kings Destroy!! And that's been my crew.

I also had partners like Cone TNF! Lay back then I met Cap!MPC back in 1982, and he put me down with MPC! He also gave me my throwup that I have today!! But as for crews, I rep OTB, Out to bomb, a crew that Noc167 gave Ban2 and Ban2 gave to me!! That's another story.

TNB which is T-kid's crew, a real-ass motherfucking brother and king of style. Niggas can't fuck with T-kid, he's just the ultimate when it comes to burners. He also influences me even today.

Fame city! Another hot crew who a lot of crews bit style and concepts from, and I'm proud to rep. My man Jel.FC put me down, who was the prez of the crew, then gave it to West! I also rep TFP! And my crew, Gods Of Destruction!! a crew Cap had and handed down to me, which I rep today.

My boy Spek! RIP! His and Jee's crew BTC! Breaking Toys Chins! I love that, 'cause we live up to it, and if you don't believe it step into the terror dome!! Trust me, niggas know already don't wanna blow spots!! KAS! TIT! BRT! VGL! 156! KGB! any crew that is a crew -- that's about it!!
Who would you say have been your greatest artistic influences over the years? Well like I said Mitch77!! This writer is so underrated. His style and burners back in the late 1970s and early 1980s were awesome. Also Case2! Tkid170! Dez.TFA. That's where I got a lot of my style from even though Delta2 gave me a lot also. I think you can't get no better than that from the old school legendary kings, but for the other writers I give it to Ces! Ivory! Dash! WEST. Dero! Bio! BG183! Ewok.5MH! from New York. Swet! Bates! and Can2 from Europe. These are all my favorites and who keeps me with fresh styles through the years.
Who are some of your favorite writers and why? T-kid170! 'cause this guy just keeps coming and coming with nasty-ass fucking burners. Sometimes I just don't understand how he does it. They need to let him teach a class on style in college or something on the reals! Ces! 'cause he's come a long way, he's mastered his style. He still influences me today! Themo. This kid has gotten nasty. Acet! For the girls she's on point. As for crews TATS Cru! Holds it down as the best crew I've ever seen. These guys are profesionals!! YMI crew ... awesome and amazing! JA.XTC ultimate bomber hall of famer, no-doubt killing machine!! Skuf!YKK. his style of bombing is incredible!! Jozone! RIP ! and Easy! For setting off the real street bombing cap! MPC! For his destruction and dope throwup! King Pjay!! For being a crazy-ass real motherfucker!! Spek! RIP, for rocking different throwup styles. I'll miss him!! Since!BTC! For not giving a fuck and bombs in broad daylight!! Bio!TATS! For his awesome styles and burners and being around for years!! And as for the females, Naisha! Claw! and Utah! These girls be killing it!! I love it. Jonone156! I love his style of throwups! And how smooth he just gets around to do his thing!! Ewok.5MH, the real one, this boy's amazing. He amazes me on how he can get down and rock a whole wall for self!! And many more!!
You get a lot of chances to travel, so which places you've been are your favorites and why? If you decided to move somewhere else, where would it be? Wow!! I've been around the globe a lot of places! France! Paris! All of Germany! London! Amsterdam! Japan! L.A.! Texas! Madrid! Barcelona! Ireland! Italy! Oh man a lot. I really love all of these places. It's really hard to say. Spain is one of my favorites -- these motherfuckers are crazy!! Puerto Rico! Paris! Oh man I love 'em all. Italy!! I got mad love and peoples out there. KD Family everywhere!! All over the States. I just love it all 'cause God has blessed me to travel so much, so I can't be choosey. I'd love to go to Oslo, Australia, Russia, China! All over the world! Whereever God takes me I'll go. It's truly a blessing to be traveling the world for something you love to do -- graffiti!! God's the greatest!! And I thank Him for it. As for moving, who knows? I just go with the flow. I can't predict the future, but hopefully somewhere much more quiet with a fat house, yard with dogs, a car! And just live simple. I'm working on it, so it's about to happen, thank God!!
How do you balance your writing with your family life? Pretty good. They don't mind 'cause they know it's what I do. it's how I live and this is me. As long as the bills are paid and there's food on the table we're all good, and there's plenty of love going around. I'm very passionate with my family. I try to make everyone happy. It's really hard, though. I hope someday I'll be rich, so I can buy a mansion and have all my loved ones living with me -- my brothers, my pops, my kids, my future wife, and if I have any more kids, that would be hot. I guess it's all in God's plans for me. Until then I'll just keep being Cope2!!
A lot of writers are doing things like tattoos and designing this or that for a living now. Are you thinking of branching out into other artistic areas? I've been thinking of getting into tattoos, that would be hot. And just specializing in burners, my style of letters, 'cause I really don't see that much on people, and when I do, it always looks kinda wack, like some non-graffiti writer tattoo artist tried to do it. My man Ces! is pretty dope and Yes2. I've seen their work and it kinda inspires me. Who knows, maybe I'll get into it. Otherwise I'm just living normal. I like to just chill, be easy, 'cause I've been through enough bullshit in life already. I've been putting my art on a lot of products lately, like sneakers, dolls, skateboards, t-shirts .... It's all gonna blow up in like early 2007. Shit's gonna get crazy. Motherfuckers are gonna get sick of me 'cause there's so many haters out there. You try to share your success with your so-called boys and they get jealous and think you're bragging or something so I'ma just keep shit on the low, and when shit pops out it's gonna blow niggas heads. I'm working on a lot of projects, like another book, a personal bio of my life, a whole lot of things, thanks to my manager!! It's over. My new site is gonna be bananas so who knows what I'll do. I take it day by day and thank God and my mother RIP!! for the blessings!!
Are you doing any canvases these days? I'm always doing canvases. I've had a couple of shows that did pretty good. I do custom ones all the time. I'm kinda getting more into them. People always be hitting me up on my email or through a friend for canvases. I wanna do some huge shows someday and hopefully get a couple of gees for my canvases. I mean like 20 gees and better, you know. I can't front ... that shit pays the bills. I thank God for blessing me with this artistic graffiti talent for real.
I heard you were designing some shoes. What's the deal with those, how can we all get some? Yeah, I've done Converse. The first graffiti writer to do the Chuck Tailors. That was like 2 years ago. Them things went worldwide. I went to Mexico and Italy and saw them joints there. I just did a huge graffiti line of sneakers -- don't wanna say with who -- but people are gonna ill when they see these kicks. It's gonna be crazy. They're gonna be everywhere!!!
How did that Time magazine gig go for you? Would you do something like that again? That Time gig was a really good experience and a really good payday. Plus it gave me so much press hype and light .... I was on the news and newspapers .... It kinda blew up to large. I was buggin' on it. I had fun doing it. I'd love to do it again. Now that I have a real manager backing me up, I'll be getting huge paydays like that again, trust me. Just gotta pay my taxes on it 'cause IRS are a pain in the ass. You don't want them motherfuckers hitting all up in your bank account 'cause that shit will fuck your world up!!! Trust me and that shit ain't good.
What is it about writing that keeps you interested after all this time? I really think I was chosen by God to become Cope2! 'Cause let me tell you I've tried to quit several times, and I just can't do it. You know life's really crazy, 'cause I travel around the world doing this, and I always seem to catch deja-vu, like I've been there before. It kind of ills me out. It's like a dream that's meant to be real. My theory on that is life's a dream. We just live it. That's why when you're young, people always say follow your dreams. It's a reason for that. I'm not crazy ... maybe a little bit LOLOL, but no, for real. It's just how I feel. Plus it's really how I make a living now.

I've done every job you can think of, and it just doesn't work out, so I love just living and doing my art, and I thank God for it. Trust me, it's a blessing. Especially when you come from the early 1980s and was able to see alive those days, it was amazing, but it's just how graffiti has evolved through the years, and the world. It just amazes me ... the new paint colors, caps for the paint, the new style of writers, bombers, wars, dramas, productions, the whole entire artform. There's nothing like it on this planet. Never the excitement. It's just beyond this world. I love it and will be it to my last breath, and let me tell you, God bless my mother's soul!! 'Cause God has blessed her to create one of the most popular creations ever!!! In graffiti history -- not to be gassed up -- but it's the truth, and the world knows it!!
What do you do for fun when you're not writing? Wow!! I love to listen to good old music like Fleetwood Mac! U2! Bob Marley! Stevie Wonder, Run DMC, old freestyle, old rap, Luther Vandros, Sarah Mclachlan, 2Pac, Big Pun, Mobb Deep, Barry White, The Spinners, Michael Jackson, all kinds of music. I love it all.

Just relaxing home watching the Little Rascals, Abbott and Costello, Good Times, shows from the 1930s and 1970s and 1980s. The Munsters. I love all them shows. Godzilla, stuff I grew up on, 'cause the stuff today sucks. Oh I love Sanford and Son.

So many shows, but my most love is for boxing!! I love it. Mike Tyson is my idol. Since 1985 I've followed him. I even have him tattooed on my arm. He was the best in his prime. No one could stand in the ring with him. It's sad he's done, but he's still my idol. Also Bruce Lee flix. I have him tattooed also on me. He's also my idol I love watching UFC!!

I wish I was 10 years younger 'cause I would love to train hard and get into it 'cause I love to fight since I was a little kid, 'cause I get sick of people's mouths. There's so many people I just wanna break their arms and mouth OMG!!

But just coolin' with my girl or kids or brothers or family or some good friends, and I don't have much 'cause you can't trust anyone anymore. Your own homey will hate on you and I'm just too old for that shit, so I just keep people at a distance.

I'm almost 40 years old, so I like to just be easy and remember my mother a lot 'cause I deeply miss her so much. I think about all the good times I had with her. She was a great woman regardless how she lived her life. I always respected it and her 'cause no matter what, she is my mother, and you just have to understand I've never thought my mother's passing would hurt me so much. My life will never be the same!! But I have to move on and conquer the world for me and for her 'cause that's what she would want me to do, and that's what I'm gonna do until I'm with her again!!

But just basically living a normal life try to live happy and have fun go to my grandmother's house and eat some of the best Spanish food on this planet. Sometimes go downtown to the ville and shop or get some dinner or just get a nice coffee. Just simple stuff 'cause I like to be a simple man!! But if anyone wants to test me I wouldn't dare you!! Trust me when I warn you!! That's basically it.
What do you think about "street art"? Anyone doing anything interesting to you in NYC with that? Don't really care for street art. It's cool, but I don't like when they put that shit over other graffiti writers' stuff. If they do that shit to me it's over. I'ma bang all their shit out. Whatever. They gotta live too. I really don't like to judge people, I just hate when writers who didn't do jackshit!!! in graffiti try to claim that they're legends. That shit pisses me off. Or they just do a couple of walls freights for 2 or 3 years, and they think they paid their dues and get into this whole gallery-sneaker-toys fuckin' hype thinking they're the shit, when in my eyes they didn't do shit. Then they change their graffiti name into some bullshit artsy name trying to hype their asses up. I hate that shit. Keep it real homey. Pay your dues. Don't claim something you're not, okay? Ya know who's the people I'm talking about. I can't wait till I blow all ya fakeass artsy wannabe people out the box, 'cause I paid my dues. I'm the real legendary status and I'ma let the world know ya all fake and didn't due jack shit in the graffiti world just 'cause you got down with some dope old or new crew, please be real!!
What's your best advice for younger writers? To just be real!!! In everything you do. Don't admit nothing if you get arrested. Remain silent and speak to your lawyer!! Always stand your ground and try to keep to yourself. Always respect as long as you're being respected!! That's basically it.
Last word? I wanna thank Art Crimes for this interview and giving me love much respect thanks!!! All my real peoples who rep for me I love yous, all my whole family, brothers and all, love ya! My girl Indie!! I love you baby thanks for being real with me and holding it down for me. My kids, my hearts Chu and Vanessa!! Love yous! My manager team Mark! Matt! The whole Sockbandit crew, I love ya brothers, yous are truly a blessing 'cause I'ma disfunctional motherfucker. My brother Ivory!! Thanks for the love bro!! I owe you and my mother Norma Iris Fontanez! R.I.P. I love you Mom. I got this down here, baby. I miss you. Just watch my back and I'm ready to rock. God bless your soul!!

I'd like to dedicate this interview to a good friend of mine who passed away on November 19, 2006: ACB!!! I will miss her deeply. May god bless her soul!!! Rest in peace girl!!

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