-The Fabulous 5 Crew-
The Fab 5ive or ” TF5 ” was the most admired whole car crew in New York City. Fab 5 was unique in several ways. First, once the base membership was established they did not recruit.
Secondly, many of the main members were from Staten Island which is disconnected from the subway system, yet they became legends. Third point being it was a crew focused almost exclusively on whole cars. They worked predominantly on the RRs, 2s and 5s. They pushed writing to the limit. They created detailed murals inspiring their peers and amazing the public. They frequently topped the transit police’s most wanted list. The FAB 5 would join the short list of crews to do a whole train (10 cars). The Whole Train was done by DOC, LEE, MONO, SLAVE.
FAB 5ive members: DIRTY SLUG – BOB – BLUD – DEL – DOC 109 – FRED – LEE – MONO 105.2 – OG2 – PROF 165 – SLAVE – SONY
George Lee Quiñones (born 1960) is an American artist and actor of Puerto Rican ancestry. He is one of the several artists rising from the New York City Subway graffiti movement.
Quiñones’ style is rooted in popular culture, often with political messages, along with Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Quiñones was one of the innovators of New York’s street-art movement and is considered the single most influential artist to emerge from the graffiti era.
Quiñones was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, to Puerto Rican parents but raised in the Lower East Side section of New York City, New York. Lee started drawing since the age of five.
He started with Subway Graffiti in 1974. By 1976, Lee was a legend, working in the shadow, leaving huge pieces of graffiti art across the subway system. As a subway graffiti artist, Lee almost exclusively painted whole cars, all together about 125 cars. Lee was a major contributor to the first-ever whole-train, along with DOC, MONO and SLAVE.
In November 1976, ten subway cars were painted with a range of colorful murals and set a new benchmark for the scale of graffiti works. This is documented in an interview with Quiñones in the book “Getting up” by Craig Castleman, MIT Press (MA) (October 1982). Quiñones apperad with several pieces in one of the most sold art books ever, “Subway Art”, and the award winning documentary Style Wars. He became an influence for youths worldwide. Several of Quiñones whole cars made in the 70’s and 80’s has earned iconic status by graffiti writers all over the world, many of the pieces are only documented in cheap instamatic photos. “The Hell Express”, “Earth is Hell, Heaven is Life”, “Stop the Bomb” are some of Quiñones paintings that ran for months. Quiñones pieces were left untouched by other writers and some of them ran for years. Thousands of writers were painting on subway cars at that time.
Quiñones often added poetic messages in his pieces. “Graffiti is art and if art is a crime, please God, forgive me” is one of his most famous quotes. Except for subway cars, Lee also painted huge handball court murals in his neighbourhood, i e “Howard the Duck,” the first whole handball court mural, in the spring of 1978 outside of his old High School.
As part of one of the most respected writing crews, The Fabolous 5, Lee shared the philosophy of whole car bombing with the other members; DIRTY SLUG, MONO, DOC109, PROF 165, OG 2, BLUD, SONY, BOB, SLAVE and DEL. The most prolific members were DIRTY SLUG, MONO, DOC109, SLAVE and LEE (the youngest member of the crew). Along with SLAVE, LEE would keep the FAB 5 name alive long after the others retired.
Quiñones was one of the first street artists to transition away from creating murals on trains and begin creating canvas-based paintings. The 1979 exhibition of his canvases at Claudio Bruni’s Galleria Medusa in Rome introduced street art to the rest of the world.
Today, Quiñones is a well accepted artist. Recently, at an exhibition, all paintings were sold to guitar legend Eric Clapton. Quiñones raised money for the survivors of Katrina, by a bicycling tour from NYC to Florida. He also has hold lectures at universities in Europe as well as in the USA.
Quiñones’ paintings are housed in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of Art, the Museum of the City New York, the Groninger Museum (Groningen, Netherlands) and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam, Netherlands, and have been exhibited at the New Museum Of Contemporary Art (New York City), the Museum of National Monuments (Paris, France) and the Staatliche Museum (Germany). Pictures of his years as graffiti writer are featured in the books Subway Art, Spraycan Art., “The Birth of Graffiti”, “Getting up” and “Graffiti Kings: New York City Mass Transit Art of the 1970s”.
-Fab 5 Freddy-
Fred Brathwaite (born 1959), more popularly known as Fab 5 Freddy, is an American Hip-hop historian, Hip-hop pioneer and former graffiti artist. As a young teenager in the 1970s, Fab 5 Freddy was a member of the Brooklyn based graffiti group “The Fabulous 5.” He got his name for consistent graffiti “bombing” of the number 5 train on the IRT. Outside of the Fabulous 5 group, in 1980, he painted a subway train with cartoon style depictions of giant Campbell’s Soup cans, after Andy Warhol. In the late 1970s and early 1980s he was an unofficial bridge between the uptown graffiti and early rap scene and the downtown art and punk music scenes. By the late ’80s, Freddy began producing rap videos for artists including Queen Latifah, KRS-One, and Shabba Ranks, and accepted the gifted young MTV producer Ted Demme’s invitation to host Yo! MTV Raps, an assignment that established his image as one of the godfathers of the hip-hop scene (as did his publication of a dictionary of hip-hop slang). Freddy subsequently moved into features as a producer (New Jack City, 1991), occasional actor, and documentary contributor. Projects in which he participated include Juice (1992), Who’s the Man? (1993), Just For Kicks (2005), and The Universe of Keith Haring (2007).
Born Fred Brathwaite to Jazz loving parents in the Bed Stuy section of Brooklyn N.Y., Fab’s introduction to pop culture came courtesy of a name check on the pop group Blondie’s 1980’s hit, “Rapture”.
“Fab 5 Freddy told me everybody’s fly”.
That line was Fab’s calling card and introduction to the world of pop culture. He initially exploded on the scene in the late 70’s as one of the first Graffiti artist to exhibit his paintings internationally. Along with close friends and contemporaries, Futura 2000, Keith Haring, Jean Michele Basquiat, Lee Quinones and others, Fab was key in getting the art world to realize New York graffiti was spawning an art movement that would eventually pulsate globally until today, and give birth to street art.
Like many creative figures from the New York downtown scene in the 80’s Fab would explore other modes of creative expression. At the seminal Times Square Art show that his work was featured in he would link up with budding filmmaker Charlie Ahearn and come up with the idea that eventually became the cult classic and first film on Hip-hop culture, “Wild Style”, which he also produced, stars in and composed all the original music for.
After numerous solo exhibits and group shows in the late eighties Fab wanted to reach a broader audience so he decided to expand on his experiences making the film Wild Style and direct music videos. His first assignment was the song “My Philosophy” for Hip-Hop legend KRS-ONE. Fab would go on to direct numerous videos and commercials for artist like, Queen Latifah, Nas, Snoop Doggy Dog and companies like Pepsi.
But shortly after settling in behind the camera in the late 80’S, MTV, feeling the cultural pressure asked him to host a program called, YO! MTV Raps, which immediately becomes the highest rated show on the channel and blasts Hip Hop culture into the living rooms of mainstream America and millions on several continents and countries around the world.
Nearly ten years later Fab departed MTV to embark on business ventures including a brief stint as the head of independent label Pallas records where he signed, executive produced and created all the visuals for the million selling Chicago rap group, Crucial Conflict.
While continuing to satisfy his creative passion with art, film, music and television projects, Fab, considered one of hip hops architects and pioneers has lectured at schools and universities around the world, published numerous articles for various publications including Vibe, XXL, The New York Times Magazine and written a book on hip hop slang entitled Fresh Fly Flavor, Words and Phrases of the Hip Hop generation and he served as an executive producer for the Vh1 Hip Hop Honors TV specials.
Today Fab is focusing on making visual art, exhibiting his work, and was recently featured in the Los Angeles Museum Of Contemporary Art, “Art In The Streets”, the block buster exhibit that was a historical survey on graffiti and street art.
Slave aka Ken was a master at style and did many of his pieces with the letter A upside down. He reached his peak in 1977, and 1978 and was just as strong since the TDS writers were at their peak. His Neighborhood is Brooklyn.