World-renowned graffiti artist, Julius Cavero aka T-KID 170, began his “career” in the mid ‘70s tagging under the name “King 13” for gangs The Bronx Enchanters and The Renegades of Harlem, where he learned how to paint trains. After a gang-related shoot-out, Cavero suffered three shots to the leg, nearly killing him.
In three weeks of hospitalization following the shootout, Cavero sketched endlessly, recreating himself as T-KID 170. At that time, Julius Cavero gave up gang life for street art. That’s not to say he went “straight,” mind you—he was still committing criminal acts of trespassing and vandalism, but those acts made a name for him as one of the most important NYC graffiti artists of the ‘70’s and ‘80s.
T-KID 170 became famous for his unique lettering, illustration style, and extremely prolific train-bombing. In addition to his notable artistic ability, T-KID gained a reputation in the early to mid 1980s as being one of the most feared writers. T-KID’s crew, The Vamp Squad, allegedly robbed and beat many writers attempted to tag trains on their “ghost yard” turf. These guys didn’t fuck around.
T-KID with fellow writer Cem2. The two are wearing Lee jean jackets that were popular in 1984.
As graffiti has come to be recognized as “legitimate” art, Cavero has been recognized in several gallery shows over the years. In 2006 the autobiography The Nasty Terrible T-KID 170 was published, chronicling his ghetto childhood, gang years, and daring feats of train-bombing.
This week, a documentary going by the same title, The Nasty Terrible T-KID 170 gets a national release. The documentary contains fascinating interviews with Cavero, who comes off as a lovably brash Bronxite, and includes some thrilling actual footage of T-KID train bombing. The camera operator even has to jump under a train with Cavero at one point to avoid being caught.
Check out some examples of T-KID 170’s work and a trailer for the new documentary, which is available for pre-order from Amazon HERE.