Friday, April 19, 2024

Rough Opinion (KOS 163 & R.I..Q.) interview, 1992

Rough Opinion (KOS 163 & R.I..Q.) interview, 1992, by Scope Magazine.

Nowadays they’re the upfront duo in rap band Rough Opinion, but first they were street artists, from the old school. Kos 163 and R.I.Q (Rhymes in Quest) were into bombing in the mid-80s, when the first hip hop wave hit NZ: the breakdancing, the early rapping, the stylised murals or bombs that started appearing around the streets.

Back then, street art was inextricably linked with hip hop subculture. Kids were out there, getting their names up— like today—but with one important difference: respect. For property. And for themselves.

Now Kos and R.I.Q reckon that a lot of kids “got no respect... they're like sheep following something what's happening”.

No marker pens for them; they would always use spraycans. “We're true graffiti artists; they don’t have the context, the history”.

A lot of tagging, they say, is “vandalism., nothing to be proud of”. No different from the likes of "I wuz hair", declarations of love “4 Eva” and banal political no nukes sloganeering: “limited, unimaginative trash,” they say.

“They don’t add creativity,” says Kos, “You got to create your own style, you can’t just go and fuck over other people’s property... people, they’re hurting out there...”

Though they admit doing some damage to other people’s property in their youth.. “now, thinking about it, it’s really stupid.”

Kos still keeps his hand in—he’ll be doing a wall at the new Espressoholic when it opens—but even back in the 80s he was doing major stuff.

Bombing a train on the Upper Hutt line, or freights that would be seen in Hamilton and Auckland: that was real style - sending messages to the rest of the country. And messages are what it’s about, Kos reckons, and what the taggers now-a-days should be doing “if they're hardcore like they think they are”.

Kos likens it to hip hop music, with kids whose musical education started with Hammer or NWA thinking they have the whole picture.

Taggers today, he says, need to find out where things came from, so that they can learn—and earn— respect. And they should think about what they're doing.

“If they want to do real graffiti, they should find some abandoned buildings or walls, and go throw on that.... people shouldn’t have to fork out for damages.”

At the same time, he can see why it happens. Kids lose out in the system, at school and with families. “Older people always have the say; kids are pawns in the game. They’re growing up a lot faster too— having sex out there at 11 an’ shit. Morals are breaking down, with the family, there’s less discipline...”

Then there’s the lack of positive role models—particularly male— within the family. “Two parents are a thing of the past. Kids turn to a father figure, a guy to hang out with, and get influenced...”

With little being offered to youth for a future—‘“society don’t give them nothing”—and little available in the way of positive direction and entertainment, it’s no surprise that some choose to hang out, and write their names on walls.

They're bored. And in Welli, there’s no youth centre like Boystown in Auckland, where you can exercise, shoot some baskets, hang out.

The council here, they reckon, are forgetting about young people. Sure, the civic centre’s fine, great library, but considering children are supposed to be the furure, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of investment in that future.

Attitudes have changed. Once it used to be “what I don’t have I'll make, now it’s what I don’t have’ll
take.” Or write on.

Rough Opinion will play with Auckland’s Hallelujah Picassos at Bats Theatre on March 5.

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