ORIGIN STORIES ➡️ Tats Cru: The Mural Kings
Tats Cru made history this week with the Black Lives Matter mural in lower Manhattan. Borough President Gale A. Brewer and WXY Studio gave them a week to organize & produce a 21’8″ x 570′ (12,500 SF) mural spanning three heavily trafficked, hyper politicized city blocks. Without even seeing the design, they mobilized an all-star lineup of artists to collaborate. A torrential downpour washed away the first drops of paint, & still they completed it in less than three days. Who are Bio, Nicer, and BG183, “The Mural Kings“?
Tats Cru’s hip hop pedigree runs deep. Their founders grew up in Bronx River Houses, home of Afrika Bambaataa and the Universal Zulu Nation, and honed their craft at block parties and on subways since 1980. Friends from high school, they evolved their art into a business as young adults. They took commissions from local merchants, painted memorial walls, and helped friends like Big Pun, Fat Joe, J Lo, Nas, and many others sell albums with street art. In the mid 90s, CocaCola hired them. Sony and other global brands followed.
A lot of people call themselves kings and queens. For some, it’s aspirational or power tripping. For Tats Cru, the artistic royalty that may have begun as braggadocio shined brightly this week.
Some observations for all the students who should be watching:
1. No one outworked them, and no task was beneath them. They were the first to arrive and last to leave, leading by example despite the heat and backbreaking assignment painting the floor.
2. Peers respect and follow them. They could not have achieved such a monumental task alone. Colleagues showed up for them because they’ve shown up for 40 years.
3. Their humility was infectious. Asking acclaimed artists to paint someone else’s design is ordinarily … insulting. But if Tats Cru could agree, then who else could rightly object?
4. They made room for others, and generously shared credit. Their protégés contributed meaningfully to every aspect of the project.
From all of us, thank you.