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Hot 110



Started : early 70's

Area : The South Bronx New York


Main Lines : 2's, 4's, 5's, 6's, E's, F's, EE's, 3rd Avenue El-line

Writing Groups : The Ebony Dukes I.n.c


 I grew up in the fort apache section of the south Bronx.  Let me explain that first.  You will not find fort apache in any of the maps you read. It was named that by the police department in the early seventies.  People would literally camp out in the police station the 41st pct  station for safety



reasons. It was one of the safe havens in our community. The 41st pct had the highest number of murders,  robberies, gang violence, corrupt police, and probably the highest population in N.YC. At that time covering one pct. Many of the residents lived 7-15 people in a 2 or three bedroom apt. There were about 70,000 people being protected by a couple of hundred cops. They had the greatest number of police sick calls.  Who can blame them since we were taught by the older members of the community to attack from the rooftops whenever a cop car drove through the block. There was many people addicted to heroin back then who would kill anybody rob from their own families and friends for the next get high. As a child I recall being afraid at first to go out of the Hewitt pl. address for fear of being killed by a drug addict.  Another safe haven was your gang. Just before my ninth birthday, I got my first concussion in a gang rumble. That was 1967. We formed a unspoken loyalty to one another for safety and  protection on Hewitt place. Me, Adam, Danny, Edward, Paul., we were known as the Hewitt place boys.  That eliminated any further threat of being attacked with out reprisals.  We had a beef with the Jackson ave. project boys.  In

those days these matters  could be settled in a one on one fair fight. Unlike today’s drive by shootings, you would be friends the next day no matter who won. As long as you fought back, you were considered honorable. We were first known as the Hewitt pl. boys that would later be known as the ghetto wolves.  It was customary and respectful in those days to turn your colors down when entering someone else’s turf. That meant putting your jean jacket inside out covering your colors out of respect. Adam was not the type. We went on a bus trip to a state park where we ran into some black pearls.  I thought we should reverse our colors but Adam wanted to fight.  We were well out numbered but that is Adam. 




We did not have to fight that day. The older people like Wesley taught us about guns, knives how to run through backyards, fire escapes, rooftops etc… We had practice rumbles and even were shot with pellet guns to toughen you up in case you were shot you would not mind too much.  Ed began hanging with the Ghetto bros. who was one of the many gangs in our neighborhood. We had savage skulls, black spades,


roman kings, reapers, and seven immortals. Savage nomads, all confined into one area. We began writing locally on the church building across the street when we started to choose names. Ed would become Staff 161, Adam would become A.J.161 his initials, later All Jive which Is probably what it means he was jiving people so they wouldn’t know his real name.  That word jive was cool to use back then. Danny would become Dynamite 161 and then Dr Soul, Paul would become Super Slick 156, I became L.W. 161 Which Ed suggested Topaz one and I agreed to.  Me and Dynamite 161 a/k/a Dr Soul went hitting as we all did anywhere any time. We would go to crotona pool and write on the third avenue. El,s. That doesn’t exist anymore. We hit inside of our girlfriends houses even in their refrigerators. Some where in there BLACK BENJI from the Ghetto Bros. was illegitimately murdered. That meant that it wasn’t respected according to street justice. The local gangs went on a rampage so fierce that the police was driving around with loud speakers urging the residents to stay indoors and that it wasn’t safe to leave your apartments. This inspired the movie  with Paul Neumann fort apache

  the Bronx as well as the movie the warriors. Staff161 decided to form the Ebony dukes. By this time, we wanted to do something a little more peaceful. All of the original Ebony Duke members were known for being good street fighters. Including Sugar-T- 161 super slicks girlfriend who could fight better than most of us and was the first female duke. We also had others like Raven 1 who's nick name was Jo-Jo around our block and Brain 1 who was like my body guard in those days, that had a brother LTD 1 who wrote. Soon after we began to see Super Kool 223 going by on the 2 and 5 trains that went through our block every twenty minutes.  So that’s what we decided to do move to the trains and watch our names too.



The Original Ebony Dukes.


 The first time I went hitting was with staff and dynamite, Note Ed was such a perfectionist that if you went hitting with him you had better be neat or he would tell you about yourself.  Therefore, I did a green piece with silver outline and poke dots I remember the first time seeing my name go by on the block that was our own personal writer’s corner. I felt now I am somebody! Funny how poverty makes you feel worthless. I went to junior high school and castle hill ave. and had to take the number six train to school.  I began to hit every day to and from school. One day I met a short Dark haired white kid he reminded me of alphalfa from the little rascals but short. He was writing R.C. 162 , I brought him around to meet the crew. This to my knowledge was the first white boy brought to Hewitt pl. I know because I brought him. A short time later I remember him being killed in a train accident. I was sad and I feel its important in this article to show some love to the kid.  Steven and Tommy we some white friend who also wrote but I don’t remember what. Sex Machine or Eric from the black spades, Lester Smiley also from the spades is the only Smiley I know wrote smiley. Cyril Adams from the spades wrote zero one. I do know smiley came to my house in the early seventies probably to



join the dukes but its hard to remember because we did so many things besides write and I got out in 1974 when others were just starting. In junior high school, a gang by the name of the golden guineas killed a black kid and hung his body from a lamp post.  Kinda like what was happening in the south.  This enraged the local black gangs in the area and they decided since the next day was a half a day at school to declare kill whitey day.  That meant any black gang member would beat down any white person we passed on the street. The plan was to meet at the Bronx zoo and go on a citywide terror.  By the time, me and some of the spades got to the zoo the police had closed it down.  I could see gang members inside stomping down and robbing people.  We were not sure if other black gangs would honor the truce so when the police closed the zoo I went home. The next day the white gangs in the area did the same thing and chased us out of park Chester. There were plenty of clean cars around in those days. Stay high had begun a serious attack on the streets and busses. Superkool223, Phase deuce, or


 2 but he did write deuce as well, Bug 170, El Marko 174, Dead leg 167, AMRL / Bama, Straight man, The Man 550 / TM 550, Hot Souse 575 / HS 575 ( his real name was Kenny he is also from Hewitt Place and was an original Ebony Duke from around the way.), Skip 1 who was Skippy our vice pres,s bro. Dice 1,  jive 3 who Dynamite brought in, Jester one, Clyde was killing the buses, Taki  183 ruled the streets. Lee163rd. Tracy 168, I even remember seeing Swiss 1 and other writers. Some were known as Broadway writers at that  time you really didn’t disrespect others turfs. Gangs were still around early and we tried to respect them accordingly. The original Ebony Dukes began as a few Ex gang members from the block but soon grew onto one of the most respected Graffiti crews in writing history.  And many of the who’s who of Graff. In  those days did come


 to write for us and gain our protection as well. Even after gangs faded we had people that hung with us that didn’t write but was loyal to us still.  This gave us the authority to deal with any issue in any part of the city.  We knew somebody who could take care of it. King Kool 156 was a Puerto Rican brother who lives on the 156 side of Hewitt place. We were writing partners.  We would boost spray paint mostly from uptown in the Bronx or martins paint store at queen’s boro plaza in queens on the seven line.  We were at writer’s corner one day on our way hitting and was arrested with spray paint though we weren’t actually writing at that moment.  We had to wash walls for eight hours  straight.  After that we hit the EE.s  and the Six line exclusively.


  We would go into stores and Staff would yell Bogart after the actor Humphrey Bogart and we would turn gangster and take as much paint as we wanted and run.  We ran from the police after being arrested the first time  you learned not to surrender so easily.  We ran from the white gangs uptown.  We ran from angry transit workers with big wrenches.  Staff gave up keys to the conductor booths on trains.  We also learned to open doors from pulling the seats up and pulling the lever.  How to get on the top of the train from the roof of surrounding buildings.  Walking to the next station if there was a cop posted. Proficient shoplifters and train hoppers. These were the tricks of the trade back then.  Most of all we loved having fun. This made us  forget about the poverty we lived in if only for a moment.  I did

   my first top to bottom on the  EE,s TOPAZEXPRESS  whole car.  That was my best piece.  My best day was when Staff declared me as the official king of the number six train that other writers overlooked in those days.  We did not have many actual beefs, Staff  had a competition with a guy who wrote Riff 170 who was a great artist but I personally was no match.



An Ebony duke mission... find DEATH!

Staff created a masterpiece with a man shooting his name out of a cannon in flames. A new writer by the name of death came out of nowhere and wrote over it. Death was what we called getting around but at the expense of others.  We never thought he would have the audacity to do that to a Duke.  Staff decided to kill him so me Staff, A.J. dynamite, king kool, went uptown looking for the new white boy.  We had our 007 and k-55 knives. We went up to 225th, Burke, Allerton, ave stations.  He did not show up so we went hitting because there were lay-ups parked.  Later on death agreed to repaint the peace.  This brought peace and membership for Vamm, crachee and those who would later become the crazy five. 



 The landlords in the south Bronx began burning buildings for insurance money.  They refused to fix things generally such as holes in walls, heat, hot water , holes in ceilings, rat and roach conditions. To be fair to the landlords, collecting rent was a life risk for them.  My landlord would bring a mean German Shepard and his young sons. After all they had what we didn’t …money.   The buildings were being condemned by the city as ours was.  Un safe for human conditions. Few of us could afford another place so we remained in squalor until we could afford to move. We moved to another slum in Harlem.  I managed to take the skills I learned from Staff 161, A.J. 161, Super Slick 156, my brother Ernie, and even Walter who was a Ghetto brother. Not in writing but the fighting. I began to box in the boxing ring.  I went to college in 1977 and won the N.Y.C. all college


 invitational middleweight title. I put Brockport state university on the cover of a national magazine.  During that time, I would work as a bodyguard for such people as Lou Pinella who at the time played for the New York Yankees.  I joined the U.S .Army in 1980 and boxed for the military and won several titles like the Border association, local golden gloves in el Paso Texas, regional championships. And did well enough  in the national boxing championships with fighter in the day such as Mark Breland and Tyrell Biggs, who was my roommate. Carl the truth Williams was also on the same team.  I was amazed to be ranked in the top ten in the world as light heavyweights go after beating the number one ranked fighter in Warsaw Poland in 1981. I traveled to Switzerland. London, Germany and rode on the Autovon. Mexico where I won a silver medal in the international games. I had one of the misfortunes of breaking my hands constantly.  The Canadian Olympic team coach once told me I hit too hard for a human. In the Bronx years earlier Because of the peace that finally came largely because of what I believe the ghetto bros did .  The burger king on prospect Ave and Westchester ave. also doubled as a disco on the weekends.  That is where Love bug star ski got his first break and he is the one who is generally credited with using the phrase hip-hop.  Therefore, I can honestly say I was there that night the phrase was created.

We actually called what the world called rapping chanting.  Chanting comes from Africa, slaves would chant. While they were being oppressed they sang.  Sort of what we did, we wrote, we chanted, we had fun and felt appreciated for our talents and abilities. Staff created the EBONY DUKES INC. to forget the violence of our yesterdays and do something more peaceful. I do admit we were violent young men. Our purpose for writing itself had little to do with violence. We felt like we mattered. inspired by James Brown, The Last Poets, Ali, even Bruce Lee as Kato on the green hornet. Where the Chinese had their own oppression going on which I wont get into. Writing united blacks, whites, Rican, Girls, young and old into a group called The Ebony Dukes inc.  Years later, My older brother who is like Staffs older brother as Staff was like my brother that was there for me growing up much like a street mentor. He started playing in my brother’s band. My brother kept him aware of my boxing



and like other people like Riff 170 befriended my brother who was the local Karate teacher. The first murder in the 70,s related to hip-hop occurred at that burger king disco, which ended that as disco. One of the other places that became history is a place called Casita Maria, which Grandmaster Theodore, flash, would get their starts in the industry.  I played basketball with melee Mel there who would later become the local king of the hustle, which was the dance ion those days. I was almost killed there when I got into a fight where I beat the guy but he tried to stab me several times and cut up my cortifiel which the popular coat back then. Later I would be the security director at Sunrise theaters in Valley Stream n.y.  I ran into a lot of the artists of that generation such as L.L. cool J. Salt and Pepper, Run-Dmc, Public Enemy and others.  In my opinion Stay High 149 put hip hop into one phrase. THE VOICE OF THE GHETTO. That what we were   speaking  to America and the world.  Remember we are drowning in a cesspool of poverty and lack. We took what we had which was God given talent and create our own fame with out conventional opportunities we made our own opportunities and we felt if we were famous in NYC we were famous everywhere. On December 25th 1990 The management at Sunrise theaters made the decision to let a movie be shown after I warned them of the dangers

 after 50 to a hundred people rushed into the theater after the previous show broke out.  They decided to show the movie at the same time in an adjacent theater and a shoot out broke out with 2 persona killed and five shot.  The security was fired and metal detectors were installed.




As far as writing goes, I am not sure why the writers today who have continued the craft do what they do. I know why we did what we did.  We wanted to matter and we did. To each other and everyone, who ever heard of Topaz 1 knows I existed. In addition, perhaps they enjoyed my art and made them smile. Without putting the new writers down , I shouldn’t have to be Dick Tracy to figure out what your trying to say. To those that are venturing into hip hop DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE. Don’t play gangster you wouldn’t want to live that life for real, it came for a place you cant go in a time you will never see from young men and women who suffered and sang and made a sound to say we count.  I never heard of fuzz one but peace to him anyway for the shout out in his book much love. Many of the original crew never made it off of Hewitt place alive. Bless Bom 5 for his work with Subway out laws.  The Ebony Dukes will now be known as a cultural arts guild not as a gang with the same leader Staff 161 my brother and friend. I will be the official spokesman you can reach us at THE EBONYDUKES@HOTMAIL.COM or check out our website  The Ebony  PEACE………..We so impacted hip hop till the movie Beat street was filmed in fort apache on location and one of the scenes filmed right on Hewitt place.

More information on the The Ebony Dukes check out our page ....

We would like to thank TOPAZ for sharing his history with us all, Looks for Bio's of other EBONY DUKES members, STAFF 161 and DYNAMITE 161 in the near future. Photo credits go to LAVA, TOPAZ 1, STAFF 161, BLADE, REFA 1 and the team at  Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Copyright © Subway 2003. Should any one have photos of Topaz work, Please contact us at MESSAGE@SUBWAYOUTLAWS.COM