Uncapped: Graffiti and New York Hardcore – Angel Duster aka KOOL AD
Rebecca: Each year we went to watch an Italian family set off fireworks, on 104th Street, off 37th Drive. On the night of July 4, 1986, my family was told some guy I now call Pssy Jr. had a fight or started one with two brothers, AD went to back him up. A fight broke out and he was injured. He passed away on the way to the Old Booth Memorial Hospital. He was pronounced dead at 1:35 am on the 5th of July. I had to make all his funeral arrangements. He’s buried not far from our old boys (from the neighborhood) SE ONE and Hindu Mike, who was in the original Nighthawks. I used to love the 4th of July…
SKAM DUST: When he was killed I took part of his name which was Dust and I became SKAM DUST out of respect.
Danny EZEC Diablo: Straight up, he was our hometown hero, the year was 1985. AD was Hispanic so I was proud of being a Latino. If it wasn’t for Angel Duster, there would be no LORD EZEC & MQUE!!!
BRAN: AD inspired me to write graffiti due to his style of lettering in writing and piecing. AD was more into the art then the bombing and that is what drew me to his style and persona. The first tribute (piece) ever was in 1992. I did it on a store on National street and the store had a sheet metal window guard that was facing Linden Park, I did an ADEE/BRAN piece. While I was doing the piece, ENCH from the Outsiders was watching me piece, he told me it felt like AD’s spirit had gotten inside me that day. ENCH said he had the vision of him while I was doing it, but he never really met AD, since he was a newer school writer at the time.
JERE DMS: AD’s style was definitely influential to me and on my own style. But never as a bite! Just seeing how letters could flow or be balanced and LEGIBLE!! Ha…
AJ Valerio: He was truly an original and a real ass G, it was a privilege to have known him.
NOTCH 56: AD had a Cheech Wizard mentality; a straight up b-boy character. I once saw him kick a dude in his nuts and then knock him out, who does that? It was so funny but he was nice with his hands. He gave me the name MASE 2, he put me on to Cheech Wizard comics, Jimi Hendrix and of course: his style. My (b-boy) character is sick now, AD would have been proud of me today. I moved back to the Bronx and mentored SERVE ONE so AD’s style continues to flow to this very day. I’m going on 38 years rocking black books. I’m still going strong.
SLOAN TPA: I participated in one production to remember Kool Angel Duster. It was at Tuff City in the Bronx. There were a bunch of us: BOM5, BRAN and a lot of heads. He was shot some years later in Corona. He might’ve lived like a Gangster but in my dealings with him, the few times, he always was a straight up no bullshit kind of dude. I hope this little story does him justice. KOOL ANGEL DUSTER KOD XMEN RIP
Kingdom of Dust
The golden triangle of Jackson Heights, Corona & Elmhurst has significantly changed since AD roamed those hallowed blocks. Gentrification, changing demographics, real estate boom. In short; all the trappings of a new era blanketing the city as a whole. As the new colonizers sip their flavored beverages in their chosen Starbucks outposts; I believe it’s important to remember the people that grew up in and shaped those neighborhoods via a vibrant youth subculture that went on to have a deep lasting influence on the global cultural stage. The art of writing graffiti is a specific language meant for kids living in the inner cities. It is through no fault of their own that these cyphers meant for a chosen few became socially acceptable tools of commercialization and mass market diffusion. Angel Duster matters because he was an artist and the works he created under extremely adverse circumstances wound up influencing and brightening people’s outlook, as well as inspiring them to dig up their own innate talents in a state of reciprocal transference. The best art can affect this ripple effect. A person’s background and circumstances matter, the artwork created is the end result of a mirror reflected on the times and experiences he or she lives through. As AD used to say: “Have some trust in Angel Dust.” Long live KOOL AD.
Thank you to the Duarte family for allowing me to write about their beloved son and brother. Huge thanks to BRAN, SLOAN TPA, TATU X-Men, Danny EZEC Diablo, AJ Valerio, JERE DMS, DEMO TPA, SKAM DUST, NOTCH 56, REN CYA & COSM NCW for their recollections & input.
Thank you to Bowery Boogie for publishing this piece.-Freddy Alva 2020