The Culture Pays Stay High 149 Back For His Priceless Inspiration
Last Wednesday night I had the pleasure of presenting checks totalling $23,618 to Stay High 149’s son Dwayne and his daughter Michelle. Dwayne, a graphic designer and part-time beat-maker turned out to be a fan of DJ Kay Slay. When I called Kay Slay and told him I’d like to present the checks on his Shade 45 radio show he immediately agreed.
STAY HIGH 149’s son , DWAYNE ROBERTS
Slay has risen to accomplish great things , but has never forgotten where he came from. I met Stay High’s family during a visit to the hospital where his condition had begun to deteriorate. It occurred to me that prior to this I knew him in the one dimensional sense of his having created the greatest tag in graffiti history. Wrong! He was a father and a grandfather with roots in many places. As his condition became terminal I had a helpless feeling that he would be forgotten and felt he deserved so much more. David Gonzalez of The NY Times agreed and wrote a flattering obituary.
Most of graffiti’s royalty attended Stay High’s wake and many spoke movingly of their memories of him. Stay High’s name inspired thousands , including myself to follow in his footsteps. He represents truth and soul. Both Stay High and his alternate tag “voice of the ghetto’ defined his very essence. During the 70’s his name was as emblematic of NYC as Times Square porno flicks, afro-picks and nickel bags with five joints worth of weed in them. Elegant decadence. Creating beauty from nothing. I had to thank him, but didn’t know how.
Dwayne and Michelle are not needy people. They never asked anyone for a thing.
DWAYNE ROBERTS and KAY SLAY
Stay High’s value could never be monetized during his lifetime. He fought his demons until they vanquished him at 61. When I got the idea to do a benefit for Stay High’s fam , my motivation was to show how much he influenced the entire spectrum of this culture in all its incarnations . In a world where street artists and graffiti artists don’t co-exist peacefully and many are out for self, Stay High 149 post-humously pulled love from a stone.
Writer’s and Street Artists from all eras gave it up effortlessly.Getting people down on this project was easy. Writers as diverse as TAKI 183 and Shepard Fairey contributed work. Geographically, NYC came to the party in a big way with Zephyr, Dr. Revolt, FUTURA 2000, CES, COPE 2 ,IVORY, CAP, LSD OM, BLADE , SEEN , PART ,TODD JAMES,FAUST,KR ONE and STEVE POWERS donating great art. The West Coast showed love as MSK/AWR cats RISK, SEVER and Witnes contributibed dope work. Even WON ABC from Germany got down. Alan Bortman at dirtypilot.com generously gave me his website to do the show which generated revenue beyond my imagination. Rich DiBernardo at Prografix printed up 149 t-shirts donated by Jeff Staple at The Reed space and slowly but surely the mission got accomplished.
PJAY ONE, RIFF 170 , Kay Slay and I spoke glowingly of Stay High 149 on the radio with his kids by our side.
PJAY and DJ
The presentation of the loot to Dwayne and Michelle will remain one of the most powerful and meaningful moments of my life. Everyone in the studio felt it too. I am truly proud of the culture in all its facets , unified in letting the world know that Stay High 149 mattered to us. I cannot begin to express my gratitude. May Stay High 149 forever Rest In Peace.
DWAYNE ROBERTS, KAY SLAY aka DEZZY DEZ, MICHELLE ROBERTS and YOURS TRULY