Uncapped: Graffiti and New York Hardcore – Angel Duster aka KOOL AD
BRAN: AD was a Hard Rock, meaning he would fight at the drop of a dime and did not take shit from anyone. AD story telling was legendary, the whole room would just shut up and listen, when he spoke in the lunch room of Flushing High School, the whole Latin section got quiet, the African-American section would yell out ‘YOOO AD, stop your story telling.’ The Caucasian section always minded their business, but that is how it was the division of the races in the early 1980’s, it was not that visible but you felt the tension there.
AJ Valerio: Back in 1985, on 94th Street, AD got into beef with Fe Fe from the CC Boys. They fought and AD got the best of him, but Jack (Kung Fu Jack) wouldn’t leave it alone so AD and him scrapped. Jack, who did know martial arts, threw some impressive punches and kicks with a lot connecting but still drawing chants of ‘Bruce Lee!’ from the CC Boys who were in attendance. As they chanted, AD turns to me, promptly takes out his two front teeth, spins around and says, cool as a mothafuka; ‘Fuck Bruce Lee, I’m Kool AD!’
Rebecca: He got into a fight in Brooklyn a month or two prior to his passing. Him and some Corona boys got into a fight at some party in Brooklyn. He had gotten shot in his thigh. I heard a while back (old friend) Ellington Cee telling me that my brother had actually saved his life that day. Because if it hadn’t been for my brother getting out of his car for a second, the one guy that my brother saw creeping up to the side of the car with a gun in hand, would’ve probably had shot them both.
NOTCH 56: The first time I met AD was through a mutual friend who was a local DJ. I had my black book with me and he said; ‘Let me see it’ and snatched out of my hand. He looked through a few pages and then tossed it over his shoulder, went into his bag and said; ‘That Bronx don’t rock here, you rep the #7 line now so get with the program.’ How real is that?
SLOAN TPA: I never knew what were his main crews but years later I saw him on Junction Boulevard and he put me down with KOD (Kings Of Destruction). This was before SOE and the X MEN invaded the #7 line. I don’t know if he was CC Boy or not but I knew a few of them: CUBA and SO-SO are 2 the of the names I remember. But the cat I remember the most was CHOCO; that was a CRAZY DOMINICAN and he used to set it off. They used to hang out on 95 and 37th Ave at this bar. They used to go the recreation center on Thursdays and take it over! I used to fence stuff to CUBA and SO-SO and they used to buy the stuff that I used to rack. Good times!
BRAN: Street life was tough back then: he had a big beef with GHOST RIS over some paint and AD robbed him at the layup on 103rd St. with a .38 caliber gun, those were the rules back then, you could not enter someone’s else layup without paying.
SKAM DUST: He was my true favorite writer/bomber/throw up style and he was from my neighborhood of Corona. There was nothing like taking a ride with my dad looking out the window and seeing all these AD throw ups on Northern Blvd, Roosevelt Blvd, Astoria Blvd, Corona Avenue and off the highway on the Grand Central parkway.
TATU X-Men: The year was 1979. The mighty X-Men crew was still in it’s infancy, myself being from Fort Greene, Brooklyn and new to the graffiti scene, had never heard of AD. So one day we set up a bombing excursion to crush the “Dewey” yard (the squad for that night consisted of SEE 1, ANGEL DUSTER, OB 1, SOE 1 and myself). I remember it clearly: SEE 1 introduced us and the first thing AD says, while in a B-Boy stance was; ‘Yo! how many chucks can a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood!’ Lmao… then he did a little “UP-ROCK” move and stood there waiting for an answer with his arms crossed high up on his chest, chin up with his great smile which showed his gold front tooth looking me dead in the eyes (it was the perfect B-Boy stance). It took me a few seconds to take this in but I kept direct eye contact with him with my arms crossed high and my chin up like a “G” is supposed to do, if I didn’t stare him down back, it would have shown weakness. I said to him; ‘If a wood chuck could chuck wood it would be a shit load of TREES.’ Then I did my own UP-ROCK battle move and ended the move by pulling out a sack of trees. He in turn pulled a Phillie Blunt from behind his ear. We laughed and SEE says to both of us; ‘See I told you, you both the same kind of crazy punk ass ducks’ and attempted an UP-ROCK move trying to dis us (in a joking way). AD and I both tackled him and gave each a soul pound (that’s what I call a street handshake when both people pull each other in chest to chest and ends with a brotherly hug. A sign of mutual respect and love). We lit up our trees, drank a quart of O.E., kicked it for a while and even before we bombed and I was able to see what AD had style wise. I invited him into the crew.
Danny EZEC Diablo: When I was a little kid, I rode my BMX bike from St. Mike’s Cemetery to Shea Stadium, on the Grand Central, just to get a pic of the ANGEL DUSTER burner on the parkway! It was a mission and it was mid-day but I needed to get that AD flick.
JERE DMS: I remember two pieces in particular. The first one was on the Grand Central Parkway (near Shea stadium), and the second on the maintenance building between 33rd St and Queensboro plaza, on the #7 line. I was mesmerized by the pieces. They were in that calligraphic/script that at the time, to me, seemed more elegant than a lot of the pieces that were running on the #5 train (which probably had the most consistent, top quality piecing). They were also unique because they were static. They were always there when you looked for them. Trying to follow a certain writer’s work was more of a fluke than predictable then. You had to wait for the train to come back AND cross to the other side of the station to see it again! Also, I think the piece over at the Sunnyside yards, was black with a baby blue outline. Blew my mind! Almost no color at all and it just dominated the space! Super simple and elegant.
SLOAN TPA: Kool Angel Duster had pieces all over the hood and as soon as he finished a piece we would hear about it and go check it! Also 2BAD, G MAN, FUZZ ONE, SON, PRO, CEY CITY… you know; the legends.
BRAN: Abel’s writing style was unique, fresh and updated to the original versions that were passed down from (Legendary Corona writers) SON and PRO. They both lived on the same block as AD, so they were early influences on him. AD did a piece in the summer of 1981 with Bobby, it was a KOOL ADEE with lots of colors and a white cloud. It was done center car, like right after the middle doors. It was a brand new MTA car, grey with the Blue Stripe and ran for about four months and then disappeared. The most memorable piece he did, that I remember clearly, was the one titled DRUGS that he did at PS 16 park, the very first wall by the school dumpsters; the colors and letters looked like you could peel them off the wall. The handball court was done by CEY, SOAP, NOD and others, don’t recall all the names but PS 16 was a mini Corona Hall of Fame around the same time from 1981-1982 before it was buffed in dark brown paint.
DEMO TPA: I met Angel Duster in 1979. I was on 90th Street, and he was by Junction Boulevard. We recruited him into the TPA family and we spent time hitting the #7 and E/F lines. He had a wavy scrip tic style that was unique and rooftops along the #7 line and neighborhood walls. He had a nice Angel Duster by Junction Blvd
NOTCH 56: Chilling with a neighborhood celebrity like AD definitely had its perks: I racked up with the ladies, met so many kool writers. I remember going to pick up AD at his house and hated to knock on the door because his mom was no joke! She would come out like; ‘what you want?’ um, Angel, is Angel there? ‘Get the hell out of my face’ then turn around and yell out; ‘Angel, tell your friends, these punks to wait down the block for you’ and slam the front door in my face. He would come out laughing. AD would tell me to go to his house and tell his mom to pass me his black book; I’d be like Hell No! no way, I’ll wait until you get it. I’m good, while chilling at the game room b-boy down with BARETTA, AD, SOAP, REK 2000. FLAKE, FLAME, FUZZ ONE, SON ONE etc…
Rebecca: We grew up with JOEY TPA and the original Son One. We knew FUZZ ONE, FLAME and my brother knew the original CAINE 1 too.
SLOAN TPA: Angel Duster was a Corona legend and I feel that some of his most memorable work was done when he connected with the X-MEN (I forgot what year). All of a sudden the #7 Line blew up! Pieces, throw ups, insides, top to bottoms, window down, end to end; the X-MEN lit it up. But the greatest source of pride was that Angel Duster and Son One were a part of that because they were from Queens. The X-MEN were widely known for the DJ NO and TESS X MEN sticker bomb that was starting up. But to have SOE X-MEN come to Queens and mainly the #7 Line and blow shit up was epic. It was the first time that I seriously benched my home line, aside from CUE ONE tearing it up as well. The beef (AD had) with GHOST RIS will go down in history! It was a magical time.
SKAM DUST: The best was going to high school as a freshman and taking the #7 train, just looking for the next AD throw-up on the platform or an AD piece on the train. On the inside of the train he had great, big fat markers that dripped with different shade of color, some dark purple with black mixed. His hand style was FUCKEN ILL and the extra names that he had like: he used to write Secret Squirrel.
BRAN: AD was down with TSK (The Stone Killers) from the start of his writing career, I would say 1978-1979 is when he first made an impact in Corona and you would see his tag and straight letter pieces. AD made it to the X- MEN crew at the age of 16, he was very proud of that. I think SOE and TATU both put him down with the crew. AD made up his own crew KOD (Kingdom Of Doom) for the writers that were under his belt, in other words writers that he felt could contribute to the art form of graffiti. AD and his crew use to bomb the glass telephone booth at the train station at 103rd that was on the street level in front of the fruit stand, once you saw this you knew the layup was hit on Monday mornings. Sloan took a picture of the ADEE, this car was an end to end piece on the white #7 trains. They had done about four end to end pieces that night at the layup during the weekend. Monday morning, we were all at 103rd Street, waiting for the train to Main Street to go to Flushing High School. By the time the train got to Willets Point, someone pulled the emergency cord as we were inside a ten car train full of pieces. AD and his crew got out and started talking pictures of the piece, that picture is from that day you could see the windows are still not buffed, it was a very cold day. We sat at Willets Point for almost two hours, something about the emergency break freezing. We all got a note from the MTA (Mass Transit Authority) for being late and they actually had an MTA bus to drop us off at the school that morning.
TATU X-Men: The usual practice for putting a writer into a crew was to check his style and see how many “UP’s” they had. But my gut and heart told me this fucking guy in front was 100% X-Men no matter what his style was or how many ups he had. He is family material. He immediately accepted and the rest is history.