So I’ve been trying my best to get DELA I.N.C. on the vandal hour (my weekly internet radio show on dtf radio I executive produce). Why, because she gets funky with the paint. She’s knows the culture. And she has a dope Graff history and perspective. Plus, in the words of big boi of outkast, “she’s cooler than a polar bear’s toe nail”. And, she’s a person that I call a friend.
Getting her on the show has been an impossible mission though. I guess our schedules never really complement each other; actually, my schedule rarely compliments anyone’s schedule. But I knew I wanted to interview her so I knew I had to make shit happen. So after a few made and missed texts, some phone calls, some back and forth messages on Instagram and Facebook and a few failed snapchat face time attempts (a new feature on snapchat that nobody really uses)—it finally happened. We finally set a date/a time and a location for the interview. Unfortunately, my schedule changed at the last minute and we almost had to reschedule. Luckily, DELA made it her business to get to where I was at (Williamsburg projects).
For the people who might not have heard of DELA, let me give you a little bit of background on her. She’s been writing and involved in Graff for about 15 years now. Most likely, you seen her tags and fill ins around 2005 and 2006(the years she said she went hard in). Some of her influences were GOUCH, the Y.K.K crew, the D.O.D crew, and the 5MH crew (“I remember when they banged the j line out, I was so hype”). She’s also an animal activist, a comic book collector, a toy collector, and horror film fanatic. In her own words, “I love anything horror!” And if you know her, you already know that MOS DEF is her favorite artist of all time and ‘black on both sides’ was the album that changed her life.
[A ONE an emcee and actor from Williamsburg interrupts us. And ask DELA does she want anything from the store. She humbly declines. Also in the background of our conversation, another conversation is taking place about the Williamsburg Graff writer ECK T.H.U.G.S and all his beefs]
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE TAG DELA, WERE YOU A DE LA SOUL FAN?
Long story. I came from a very indoctrinated home. A lot of things I couldn’t do. My brother MEPH started writing Graff first with my cousin NEM (he doesn’t write anymore). They were doing Graff together, really getting into it. At that time, I started rebelling. You can say Graff was my very first love. I started liking Graff before I started liking boys. This is where and how my brother and I really bonded. So when my parents would go to church, my brother would take me out bombing as his look out. And that was the beginning. The tag is a part of my name but not how everyone says it, it’s pronounced “DAY-LA”. But throughout the years it became DELA. At that time, I wasn’t allowed to listen to worldly music. So I didn’t’ hear of DE LA SOUL, but when I got older I did. I became a huge fan of them and MOS DEF; that’s real hip hop!
SO HOW WAS YOU AND YOUR BROTHER MEPH RELATIONSHIP?
We was best friends; Bombing partners since the beginning. He was always present. If I bombed with someone, he was there.
SO WHATS YOUR DEFINITION OF A DOPE HANDSTYLE?
You got to be clean with it, no chicken scratch. I like sharp and boxy. I love flares, and I love to go big.
[Between our conversations, DELA says to me, “you appreciate a good hand style. But you can’t have a fly ass hand style and a wack ass throwie.”]
DO YOU FUCK WITH STOCK CAPS?
To be honest, rarely.
IN YOUR OPINION, DOES DRIPS OVER YOUR TAG COUNT AS A BUFF?
It depends, because you don’t know the person’s intentions. (She takes a deep breath) If it’s all over my shit, I’m going over it.
[A ONE RETURNS FROM THE STORE WITH A LOT OF SNACKS: LAYS CHIPS, DORITOS, DORITOS RANCH AND A BUNDLE OF COORS LIGHTS BEERS FALL OUT HIS POCKETS (SMILEY FACE). JUST KIDDING, BUT HE DID REUP THO. A CONVERSATION NOW BEGINS ABOUT MAGIC, DAVID BLANE, AND OSGEMEOS ART SHOW]
WHAT CAN YOU READ FROM A PERSON’S TAG?
I can tell if the person doesn’t give a fuck about how it looks or if a person is trying too hard.
CAN YOU TELL IF THE PERSON IS MALE OR FEMALE?
95% of the time you can tell if it’s a male or female. I can also tell the cockiness of a person’s tag. But overall, New York has some dope females with some dope hand styles so sometimes you can be fooled.
WHATS YOUR FAVORITE MEDIUM TO WRITE YOUR TAG IN?
Mops! Mops and flares. I love fat caps. It started with me and my bro MEPH writing with each other. We would always challenge each other and I would try to one up on him all the time and vice versa. I would always get pissed because he’d make me look out for him first while he wrote up. So for that, I started going bigger after he wrote. He caught on though (she laughs). So it was always a competition in that sense.
WHAT CREWS DO YOU PUSH?
I’m down with a few crews. But I.N.C is family. So it’s always I.N.C; V.G.L. Those are my two crews. But I have mad love for a lot of others.
GRAFF WISE, WHATS A TOY TO YOU?
A toy is someone that’s wack. Someone who doesn’t know the rules. A person who thinks it’s cool to go over other niggas shit. Um, I guess a person who’s a jock. Jocking is definitely toy shit!
DO YOU HAVE A GOOD GRAFF STORY?
Um, I had a real close call Graff story. One day, I was in Williamsburg with MEPH and another person. We were right by the Williamsburg Bridge; there was a boarded up lot, with a perfect train view. So we come up to the spot—MEPH and the other person climbed over a fence. Since I wasn’t climbing over that shit, ima’ be the look out. So I’m standing outside the gate on the phone acting like I’m arguing with someone. Hold up, (she puts her hand on her forehead and says, “I have a better story”)
MEPH and I were ready to go into another lot, off the J line. So of course, he got to go in first. So when it’s my time to go in, I put my head in but I hear a car coming down the street; it was the cops. So I start walking, but they had seen me looking in the lot. So I dip, walking down the block and I jump in MEPH’S car. At that point, I can hear the car stop. What’s crazy is I had mad paint on me. So once I get into the car, I put the cans away and I started texting MEPH; not thinking that his phone might not be on. So luckily he had heard and he jumped into a big ass ditch in the lot. The cops were there for like five minutes with their flash lights looking for someone or something. And I was saying, “Ah fuck they got this nigga”. Minutes passed and they left. A minute later I see MEPH walking down the block smiling and I was like, “yoooooooo, he did it”.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE A FEMALE IN A MALE DOMINATED CULTURE?
It’s different because you got to be on point with your shit to earn respect in the Graff game. Women tend to get less credit for their work.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM GRAFF?
Know thy self.
SINCE THIS IS A TAG AND HASH COLUMN, WHATS THIS BUD YOU GOT US SMOKING?
THAT’S THE NAME? (I’m laughing out loud, literally. I told her, I am putting this in the article).
I’m high. (She says while laughing) Oh, granddaddy purp. I thought you asked me where I’m from.
IS THAT YOU FAVORITE STRAIN?
Nah, Any exotics my connect got is.
DO YOU LIKE BOMBING UNDER THE INFLUENCE?
Yeah. I only smoke weed though. But I am on point; I’m alert.
ANY LAST WORDS TO THE PEOPLE?
Spread love and spread truth and spread knowledge.
[A FEW DAYS LATER DELA TEXTS ME]
DELA: can I add a final add on?
ME: pardon me. Didn’t see the message.
DELA: am I late. I just saw this lol. Just wanted to say that as graffiti writers we have a platform that many don’t, and even though graffiti is a very ego driven game it’s important to remember what really matters and the things that are taking place here in this country and around the world. Bring awareness, educate, and fuck the system!