“We are one love, one brotherhood, family, a powerhouse, a dynasty…SKA MOBB!! We came together from all walks of life. We stay together sharing one passion …the love of art and Graff. Expressing it in all our individual ways making up a team that is unstoppable!! It’s an honor to be from a crew that’s been holding it down since the 80’s and still going strong past the millennium. A family of strong righteous people who take our unity very serious ..no bullshit ya get me !! Everybody has earned their place and worked hard at what they do best; aint no fronts or band wagoners here hahaha…With that being said its been a great ride the adventures are endless and I wouldn’t have it any other way !!! Till my candle burns out I’ll be STILL KICKING ASS for life”. -Jez
SKA Crew is one of the most notorious Graffiti Art Crews that have come out of Los Angeles, just a brief review on how the Graffiti scene has bloomed to what it is today. Since the late 1970’s, the East Coast had already established themselves as the pioneers of the graffiti scene, much of its styles were influences to the West Coast graffiti movement during the early 1980’s. Numerous crews for the most part in the Los Angeles metropolitan area began to form. Graffiti crews were establishing with a purpose to show their loyalty for their new-found families, or to use this tool as an escape from social classification. To “get up” was to leave their mark all over the city to let other graffiti writers, society, cops and government officials know that they are leaving behind their own identity and take over the streets. Envision all these young crazy individuals risking their lives and taking matters into their own hands to take over L.A. I can’t even imagine if at any time it crossed the mind of any of them that one day they will become legends, well established artists or even yet celebrities; they just did it for the love of “getting up”. And as one can see, this Graff art form is gradually becoming more acceptable in the art market value and mainstream pop culture; it is becoming a stronger movement than ever. Graffiti is everywhere and it appears to be influencing other art genres and everybody wants a piece of the action, we now see artists becoming “graffiti “or “aerosol” artists overnight. Their art might be breathtaking but some of these new era Graff artists are lacking the foundation and the respectfully acknowledgement towards those that had risked their lives and set the path for many generations to come. Fortunately, some crews have never stopped evolving and getting up, it looks as though it might be challenging to keep a balance of street credibility and becoming successful for the sake of creating careers out of their skills. The SKA Crew has been successful in dominating both aspects, and after 25 years strong this legendary crew is STILL KICKING ASS!
The Birth of SKA
So how did it all start? A little bit of background history before SKA, in 1985, Pryer One was from a crew named ATL, Against the Law which was established in late 1985 at Santa Monica and Gower. He was strongly active pushing his name as well as his involvement in gangs and shortly after he committed a crime that cost him his freedom and was placed in Camp Menden Hall, Lake Hughes, CA. Upon his release he went back to his crew and from his perspective on what loyalty is and where the heart for a crew should be, according to Pryer, these new crew members that came along while he was locked up were not structured to the standards of a strong solid family. He then decided to let go of the crew and go on his own way still getting up Pryer One all thru the cities of Southern California. Then in 1988, Pryer decided to start his own graffiti crew but still having in mind the love and fond memories he had for ATL, Against the Law. He did not want all the hard work he had put in to be just thrown away, as a memoir for ATL, he named his new crew SKA, Still Kicking Ass. Note that most crews that were around at the time had fun, cool or creative names. He went against all odds of society and other crews, letting everybody know that he was still up, still strong and Still kicking ass. Along with his partner in crime Toxic, they decided to take over the streets and get up and create chaos everywhere they went. Shortly after Dras came along and he remembers that in the beginning when both Pryer and Toxic said they were forming this new family and asked him if he wanted in, Dras thought they were just messing around but he was down. He referred himself as “the third wheel of these two crazy guys that were always getting into some deep shit”. (Dras)
The Early Years 1988-1990
The areas that were being mobbed the most during the first years of SKA were definitely Downtown LA, SGV and East Los Angeles. The year was 1990, when the crew had strong street credibility for their hard work on the streets and desmadres (thug life). This is around the time brothers Derse and Needizm joined the mob and pushed the crew even harder in the SGV while Pryer and Phib expanded the crew on the other side of town. “The Crew just kept growing and growing; to be honest in the first year of the crew forming it was more of a criminal mob, young knuckle heads that as a sport “racked” a lot. I remember we used to take the 70 El Monte bus line because it ran all day and night, which gave us access to the city at any time. We use to go from Downtown L.A. to Venice just racking and getting up all the way, those were the good old’ times. It was a requirement to put in work by racking as hard as getting up to be down with the SKA crew. Back then there were no internet sites or the technology that we have now; to see who was getting up and where all we had to was to mob it, took the busses and walked thru the cities to see who was up the most and where.” (Dras)
One thing that is so special about the beginning and to this very present history of the crew is that a lot of its members have been down with SKA from almost the very beginning and still represent it to this day. I spent a day asking Pryer about the members and how long they have been in the crew and surprisingly they have been down for over 20 year for majority of them! You know who you are. “The year was 1988 and I was a freshman at Rosemead High School, it was towards the end of the school year and summer was right around the corner. At this point I had been writing and drawing Graffiti for a few years already and I was in a crew call TGK (The Graffiti Kings) This crew was run by Need and Derse from La Puente. The way I remember was like this; Need and Derse were good friends with Pryer. At this time, Pryer, Dras and Toxic were starting up a new crew called SKA Still Kicking Ass. I don’t know what kinds of arrangements were made between Pryer, Need and Derse but everyone from TGK stopped writing TGK and got into SKA crew and it took off from there. That summer was great, a lot of racking and mobbing and running the streets, meet a lot of cool ass people and seen a lot of shit. It’s been 25, damn time flies! I am very proud to be a part of this Graff crew that has evolved into this great family that’s loved and admired by so many”- Big Vert One-Shoulda Known Already
In 1990 the Dope Mob hip hop group was formed and it had its run till 1997. As Dras, Wicked Chaos and other members that have now passed away would go in deep and performed at underground hip hop gigs, low-rider car shows and house parties. “These were good times, but a lot of the setbacks we had during this time for the Dope Mob were plain and simple: we were fucking around too much, between getting busted, doing drugs and making babies it set us all in a different outcome of desmadres after desmadres”. (Dras)
From 1990 and even onto this present moment the history of the notorious reputation of heavy hitters the SKA members granted them the expansion of the crew to Sand Diego when Pryer moved down there for a couple of years and now Flaks has taken over and holding down the SKA Mob. Its expansion was not only nationwide but also in other parts of the world such as Japan and Taiwan and it still has not stopped just quite yet.
By the year 2000, many began to expand their skills leaning towards successful careers within the arts, entertainment and other businesses to promote their clothing lines and any other type of hustle that you can think of; this crew is doing it all. You can follow and support many of the entrepreneurs such as Roten’s Vendetta Republic Clothing Line, Adik’s RobnSteel Brand that is not only a clothing line but a lifestyle within itself; Tribal Clothing in San Diego and several other brands that are expanding. Other crew members have found their calling as pioneers in the tattooing business such as Big Gus who now shows in the popular T.V reality series “Tattoo Nightmares”, Flaks Nittis Tattoo Parlor, Kalm Oner, Kesoe, Stigma as well as talented Fowl, and the list can go on and on. The crew has not stopped there yet, as Skribe’s Kush Life drops the sickest video productions and partaking in the huge entertainment business along with rappers like Snoop Dog and other celebrities that are down with the Kush Life style. Music is also a big part of the making of this legendary family, as I mentioned earlier the Dope Mob was one of the first attempts of involving music. To this present moment some of the members have also taken a part in the music industry, Dras is still reppin’ SKA Dope Mob, JRoz, Snoop, Longevity and we cannot forget Dalas, Taboo from Black Eye Peas. It is mind-blowing to write down everything these guys and gals can do but most importantly their contribution on the Graffiti world has been earned and must be recognized.
The First SKA Art Show
On July 14, 2012 Roten and Neer put together what would be a memorable event for the crew; the SKA MOB “SKAndalous” art show at the GCS Gallery in Santa Ana, California. SKAsters line up was Aloy, Big Gus (Worse), Doner, Dowt, Dox, Duer, Eyons, Fate, Foam, Jez, Jroz, Kalm, Kesoe, Kause, Love, Loyer, Need, Neer, Omex, Phib, Pistol, 45, Pryer, Roosk, Roten, Rtick, Spyro, Thanx and Vert. It was very well structured and thematically to the crew’s name, each member that participated had the opportunity to expressive their skills and love for the crew in whatever form of medium they favored, whether it was sculpture, canvas, 3D art pieces such as the Duer piece on wood which was my favorite piece of the night, truck toys and even music performances at the event. Thanx One shared with the public his unique style of live body art as well. The venue was in great company of familiar faces, extremely proud to see them all come together as a family because that is what they really are. So after all these years what finally made them decide to throw this show? “I decided to put together a gallery show because I felt it was time to let people know we got a very diverse group of people. We got Graffiti Artists, Tattoo Artists, DJ’s, MC’s, etc. We are not just graffiti anymore, but everyone still has a graffiti background. It also brought the crew together under one roof and that’s really hard to do, since we all don’t have the same work/life schedule. So overall it was a good thing. I hope we can get together as a crew and start doing more things like this and share with the community. SKA to me, is more than just a group of friends, it’s a family. Built to last” (Roten)
So I know what you are all thinking by now, what does it really take to be a part of this Spray Kan Army? “Well first of all, you have to get scouted by one of the main writers from the crew, an established and respectable SKA member, but before that even happens, we first make sure that this individual is humble and has got potential, they don’t have to be already an established writer or have mad skills, as long as they got a good head on their shoulder and got the willingness to learn new things without any ego trips and has the drive and passion for the game; that’s a right candidate. We see somebody with potential, we hang out with them, follow them around for a while to see if they are trustworthy, not shady or steal from their own family or people. We got to be able to be in our own homes or gatherings and be able to turn our backs without our wallets being stolen or our family or friends disrespected; they have to know how to act right because that is our name behind them and our name means a lot to us. We never let anybody know that we are planning to put them down with the crew. And it’s not about how much time or years of checking them out to see if they are right for the crew or not, it’s not just about if the person has good pieces and gets up, we are going to be stuck with this person so he or she got to be righteous. This person can have some mad skills but can be shady; that is worthless to us. In the past we have made mistakes of letting people like that in the crew and they didn’t have heart for what we stand for; or they just want to have the name”. (Pryer & Aloy)
As I said in the beginning, SKA crew has been extraordinarily influential as far as doing wall productions that vary from music videos, decking the walls of rock stars, along side of the freeways or riverbeds throughout the nation and it is always exciting to check what new projects they get into every time. When I asked if there are any projects that we should look forward to, Pryer said that he had never sat down and put in paper the history of what was created 25 years ago but along with the help of the crew, Dras and himself want to create a documentary of the entire history of the crew and include all the members opinions, facts and stories, so look forward to it coming alive. I asked him if he had anything else to add about the crew or himself as leader of SKA and he said, “Not really, SKA speaks for itself and I am proud of my family” I personally admire how he has let the SKA members grow and become successful entrepreneurs, musicians and anything they want to be. For those of us that know Pryer, we can all agree that he is a great leader with a good heart and if he sees anybody hungry or cold, he will give up his food and he will take off his jacket and give it to whoever needs it. But don’t fuck with him or his family. He stands loyal for what is righteous for the crew and gives support in whatever goals or projects the crew members get into, whether it has to do with the name of the SKA or individually. You will always see him and the crew as a family supporting one another. 25 years have gone by and they are all still as united as ever and we are all looking forward many more years filled with more amazing art and projects from the SKA CREW. And to conclude this exclusive sit down, what does SKA stand for? It stands for FAMILY, HONOR, LOYALTY & PRIDE.
SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO ENVY, JEZ, JROZ & LOVE! WRITE OR DIE LADIES FROM THE SKA MOB.
Monica Smiles Tobon
A big thanks to Pryer One for sharing the historical information on the foundation of Still Kicking Ass Crew!