From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Style Wars is an early documentary on hip hop culture, made by Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant, made in New York City in the early 1980s. The film has an emphasis on graffiti, although breakdancing and rapping are covered to a lesser extent. The film was originally aired on PBS television in 1983, and was subsequently shown in several film festivals to much acclaim, including the Vancouver Film Festival.
Style Wars shows both the young artists struggling to express themselves through their art, and their points of view on the subject of graffiti, as well as the views of then New York City Mayor Ed Koch, one-armed graffiti writer Case/Kase 2, graffiti writer Skeme and his mother, graffiti "villain" Cap, now deceased graffiti writer Dondi, Seen and Shy 147, graffiti documentarian (and director of the film) Henry Chalfant, world renowned breakdancer Crazy Legs of Rock Steady Crew, police officers, art critics, subway maintenance workers, as well as several "people on the street".
Style Wars gives a remarkable view into the graffiti subculture (as well as urban New York City life in the 1980s), documents the embryonic stages of New York City Hip Hop, and shows that its members were a racially and ethnically diverse group of creative young artists.
Featured Graffiti Artists
Demon, Se3, Spank, Dez, Skeme, Ces 157, Min, Iz the Wiz, Quik, Sach, Dondi, Seen, Dust, Zephyr, Revolt, Wasp 1, Noc, Kase, D-5, Trap, Butch, Zone, Kid 167, Cap, Shy 147, Lil' Seen, Mare, Daze, Crash, Paze, Cey, Futura, Fred, Duro, Frosty Freeze.
- "8th Wonder" by The Sugarhill Gang
- "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash
- "Beat Bop" by Rammellzee
- "Pump Me Up" by Trouble Funk
- "Rockin' It" by Fearless Four