Interviews LA Graffiti Legend Chaka by the M.I.S.S. CREW

A few weeks back, we posted about LA graffiti artist CHAKA and his first solo show at Mid-City Arts.

Although M.I.S.S. was unable to attend the April 25th event, we got word that the opening night of the show was a success! Everything was created new for this show, but in the style that CHAKA was renowned for. We’re told more than 700 people came through making it a memorable night for the artist and those in attendance. LA’s graffiti community came through in support. Artists in attendance included: RISK, SLICK, REVOK, RETNA, RIME, SEVER and Estevan Oriol.

Daniel Ramos AKA CHAKA was definitely in attendance.

Our very own OHW got up with CHAKA days before his solo show. The graffiti legend revealed stories about growing up in a violent neighborhood in Los Angeles and how he went from catching his first tag with his brother to becoming the infamous CHAKA, literally covering California from Orange County, througout Los Angeles, and all the way up to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. We lace this M.I.S.S. Crew exclusive with images from the opening, after the jump…

The cityscape-inspired exhibit recalled the peak of Chaka’s tagging activities.

M.I.S.S.: CHAKA on himself and on his art…

I’ve always wanted to be someone. I’ve always been driven. Ever since the first time I picked up a can, I knew that it was me. That’s what I was born for. Getting my name out there. It was something I woke up to. I would breath it. But I didn’t focus on any other writers. I was my own favorite writer. I knew I wanted to be the best. Jump around a bunch of cities… jump around ten hours a night…wait till the sun would come up. I would walk up the main streets…all the way up. An 8 to 10 hour walk…Intersection to Intersection hitting up minimum of 50 “CHAKA’s”…

Everyone was using these connecting handstyles. No one was using fat caps. Black/White/Silver. Freeway overpasses—I managed to get up there like a tree climber and every time an 18 wheeler would drive by I would  have to stop…it would make everything shake.

Walls, fire hydrants, newspaper bins, street signs were all on display, embellished with Chaka’s tag.

M.I.S.S.: CHAKA on growing-up in his Los Angeles neighborhood

Once we found a body hanging from a tree with guts exposed down to the grass…Another time, my mom found two bodies in the front lawn. The ambulance said they would pick the bodies up in the morning and my mom had to cover up the bodies because there were no pick-ups at night. As a child I would would play games following trails of blood drips only to find hand prints and puddles of blood.

This other time, my brother’s friend got shot in the abdomen and when I called 911, the operator said that they didn’t serve the area I was calling from and that we would have to take him to the hospital ourselves.

My brother was also a writer. He wrote “SHAFT” and he was the one that took me out writing for my first time. He’s now a tattoo artist in Boston.

M.I.S.S.: CHAKA on goingAll-City” and beyond…

I proudly rep LOD Crew. I would hit major cities. Take two months per city. I went to San Francisco via Greyhound and met up with DREAM (RIP) [ Bay Area Graff Legend who died young] and hit up the Bay spots….Market street, North Beach Pier and the Golden Gate Bridge. I also hit up the Oakland tracks and freeways up and down California.

I live in Bakersfield [California] now but still visit LA and spend time with the LOD Crew.

The interior of the gallery, as well as the back yard was completely covered with Chaka’s various tags.

M.I.S.S.: What would you do differently?

There were the opportunities, t-shirts, posters…the owner of a Chinese food chain said he would pay for four years of Cal State Northridge for me. Paramount pictures wanted to work on a script with me…I was excited about all the opportunities.

I look back but I’m happy. If I had done all of that, if I had made money, I would have had to pay all of the fines and I would have been working for them—for the system.

Any bad thing you do has its consequences. If anyone wants to do some heavy damage, there are some heavy penalties to pay. Once you get caught there are felony charges, they did not have felony charges during my time.

M.I.S.S.: What’s next for CHAKA?

Depends on what happens after this. I have no real plans.

Thanks to Elemental for the images and to CHAKA for his insight into the LA graffiti world. You can view more from CHAKA’s opening night in Elemental’s CHAKA Flickr set.

3 thoughts on “Interviews LA Graffiti Legend Chaka by the M.I.S.S. CREW

  1. Yo ur art’s amazin. Hit me up or email me if ur ever in Denver. Well go bombin and do some peaces or somethin. peace yo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s