The Hiphop Tip

Since the early '90s, it's hard to argue that any Northwest-based hiphop collective has grown artistically more than DVS crew. Besides paving the way for new acts like Massive Monkees, they are largely responsible for the evolution of Seattle's hiphop scene beyond music into visual art and dancing.

The DVS crew are savvy on multiple levels, including their knowledge of both street and corporate culture, having presented live demonstrations, lectures, and visual events for Lords of the Floor, MTV's Rock the Vote, Folklife, and the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center.

The now nine members of the outfit are spread around the world from their once Seattle base, currently living from here to Switzerland, the Bronx, and New Mexico. When it comes to their graffiti, though, their philosophy is uniform. Their bold letter structure and classic style highlight the simple elements, and they're working to show people there's an art behind a medium authorities have for too long looked down upon as juvenile vandalism. DVS have had their work featured in magazines like the Source, Scribble, and Mass Appeal, among others, and now they're taking over Tully's brewery on Saturday, March 6, at 9:00 p.m. with an event called "Style: The Letter Revolution."

According to DVS' Soul One--a highly respected DJ who's been active in all aspects of b-boy culture, from breaking to graf writing--DVS was member Fever 1's brainchild, a community type who's given the Massive Monkees pointers at the Jefferson Community Center and has since gotten down with Crazy Legs in New York and the Rock Steady Crew, but started this collective in 1992.

Before that, Soul says all the talk in media was about how graf culture was a fad, but Soul's interest was piqued through magazines and exposure to local art. "When IG Times came out, that was the only real graffiti magazine out there that I remember," reflects Soul. "The first graffiti piece that I ever saw in Seattle was by DC3 on an old JCPenney building. I was only 10 or 11, going downtown with my parents, and it just blew my mind."

What makes DVS strong is not their art skills, even though their talent is undeniable, but their respect for the foundation that the pioneers laid down. DVS' style has evolved in certain ways over time, and crew member Hews notes that their show this week is no different. "The goal of the event is to take us out of our comfort zone and challenge the previous misconceptions about graffiti art's applications and boundaries." DVS as a whole have always given the art form their unique mark, and this show tweaks the common spray-paint concept a bit, blending in elements like acrylic and latex paint as well.

Says DVS' Sneke of the show, "It's a chance to show to people, whether they are into graf or not, and broaden their opinions on what graffiti is and what it can be."

hiphop@thestranger.com

Support The Stranger