In the Hip Hop world, there are four elements: Emcee, B-Boy, Deejay, and Graffiti. Everyone loves the music, there's no doubt about that. From a rapper busting out tight lyrics to the beat in the background, it's one of the biggest and most popular forms of entertainment. DJ's have always had their place too, from the first scratch ever to mixing in front of a packed arena. B-Boys are still going strong and the break dancing style has morphed into something else to the point where it's an integral part of modern dance that we see in live shows and on reality TV. Graffiti on the other hand, still teeters the fine line between art and breaking the law. The Original Of course back in the day spraying your name up on a wall or even on a train (especially in New York), was the thing to do. It was highly illegal then in the 1970's and it still is today. Many graffiti artists have an undeniable talent and have been able to utilize it to make an actual living or as a side job by creating amazing murals for local businesses. There's no denying that when done right, graffiti is definitely an art, however, most people still view it as being against the law no matter what. When hitting up the train yards, they would have to watch out for the cops or security and many times had to drop everything and run, sometimes getting away, other times getting caught. No matter what the penalty was, it still did not stop them from going right back out and doing it again because they simply love what they do and they consider it art. But is it? The Art I've seen countless murals and drawings from individuals that indeed make something truly special every time they put pencil to paper or spray can to wall. Some of the graffiti is simply phenomenal and I always wonder what the average person thinks of these works of art - do they stroll by not paying attention? Do they know it's there and mutter to themselves that it's against the law? Or do they stop to admire the time and effort that was put into it? The Vandalism Vandalism is not necessarily the proper term to use when defining graffiti but since it's law-breaking, it's hard to find a better, more endearing term. There are tons of tags sprayed all over the world, from small towns to large metropolitan cities and for some it is a big nuisance. Who can blame them for thinking like that? It's not nice to walk outside your house and immediately see names sprayed on a wall, mailbox, bus, train, etc. Nobody can actually say that it's nice to look at! I understand that to those doing the tagging, having their name up somewhere in their city is a big accomplishment but what a lot of them don't realize is that there's a big difference when it comes to spraying "Fuck the police" on a mailbox versus this: Art vs. Vandalism Let's set things straight - art and vandalism are two completely different things and when it comes to graffiti, it should be split into two different terms. I've always said "Graffiti Art" when talking about a beautiful mural for example, and "Tagging" when refering to someone spraying a word on the side of a bus. Graffiti Art is just that - art. It's a work of art that was pieced together by an individual using pretty much just some spray cans and tons of talent. Tagging is on the other hand, vandalism. "Eddie Wuz Here" on the back of a bus seat is not graffiti and it's not art, it's simply vandalism. The Perception When the media does a story on graffiti, they always seem to always bunch the art and vandalism together and base their report around everything that was done with spray cans (and markers too). However, they should seriously educate themselves and realize that there is an obvious difference between the two and should focus on the vandalism aspect. This leads me to the documentary that will be released soon titled, "Between The Lines". It's based on all of the graffiti happening in the Toronto area and how the mayor wants to eradicate it. Because of the mayor wanting to do that, it's prompted all of artists and taggers to do even MORE graffiti! Some of it is actually quite good, but then some of it is just regular tags. Conclusion Just because there's some nice graffiti art on a wall somewhere doesn't mean it should stay there. Or should it? When seeing a huge work of art on the side of some building, I'm left scratching my head as to why the city usually decides to water blast or paint over it. Sure, it's up there and it's not supposed to be, but if it's really good then why take it down? I've seen some graffiti that was really well done and yet it was taken down. I've also seen tags all over a wall (looking like a third world country ghetto) and yet it's there for years. What gives? I say get some graffiti artists to do a mural OVER the bad stuff. At least they will make it look nice and add some flavor to the neighborhood! What do you think?