Graffiti Pioneer Phase 2 Has Passed Away
Graffiti pioneer and art legend Phase 2 has passed away. The Bronx, New York native, born Lonny Wood, succumbed to a battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. A report by HipHopDX claims that Phase 2 had been hospitalized due to complications from ALS since August. Apart from writing and painting, he participated in Hip-Hop as a DJ and MC.
“I started writing before the concept of doing pieces was conceived. Whoever wants to claim that they were writing in 1950, so be it, but when it comes to the initial foundations of style, I’m their daddy. [I am responsible for] arrows, loops, bubble or softie letters, a whole shabang of sh*t that no one else was doing prior to it,” he told author and scholar Adam Mansbach. “I started out with LEE 163d! I’m the type of person, if I see something I like, I’ma do it. But his existence was what influenced me to go out there. Me and LEE grew up together, ran together, knew each other forever—he was doing it, and I felt like that was something I wanted to f*ck with, so we teamed up. We were the cats who really set that sh*t off in the BX; there weren’t even 20 guys who were doing it, and everybody was paying attention to us, picking up on what we were doing.” Phase 2 also credited himself with starting the famed “writer’s bench” at 149th & Grand Concourse.
Phase 2 is often credited with pioneering the bubble style lettering in graffiti. At Hip-Hop’s onset, he created party flyers and artwork for the likes of Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa. These commissions were planned by Phase during the 1970s. “When I went to Grandmaster Flash’s manager to suggest making flyers to advertise their jams, there really wasn’t anything like that happening, and that’s why I suggested it,” Wood said in an interview with AIGA, as reported by Okay Player. “What you did have were big Merengue posters by Salsa Kenny and Izzy Sanabria, but we weren’t really promoting jams on any real level like that. I thought that it made sense to, so I started doing flyers for Flash, and then the wave came behind it.”
so grateful to have gotten to work with and know phase 2 not only through coflow but throughout the jux era where he did all our show flyers and more. phase was the purest artist i’ve ever met and a kind, true soul. rest in peace, my friend. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/IQ5hamaAVb
— el-p (@therealelp) December 13, 2019
That role creating visual extensions of the culture continued well into the 1990s and 2000s. On social media, El-P, who founded Definitive Jux Recordings, remembered working with Phase on Company Flow flyers as well as works for the label.
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Damn… This is crazy.. R.I.P. Phase 2 (Graf Legend & Pioneer) Where do I begin here.??? I knew Lonnie since I was a kid. Unknown to most we grew up together in Forest Projects in the Bronx “same building.. same floor” building #965 I never knew he was a writer until I became an artist and was running into him in different parts of the world ?. Also known along with Buddy Esquire for creating the legendary Early Hip Hop flyers. I just knew him as my next door neighbor before that. We always got a good laugh about where art had taken both of us. Always proud of his iconic journey in the Graf world. Rest In Peace Brother ???? #Phase2 #TheLegend #TheIcon ?✊?✊???
Wood also grew up with another Hip-Hop multi-threat, Lord Finesse. The two BX representatives shared a floor in Building 965 within the Forest Projects.
DJ Premier, R.A. The Rugged Man, Debbie D, and Dante Ross are among the other prominent Hip-Hop artists to pay tribute to Phase 2.
DX also reports that Phase 2 remained active painting skateboard decks, vinyl, and working in fine arts.
Ambrosia For Heads extends condolences to the family and friends of Phase 2.