Buddy Esquire: King of Hip Hop Flyers
Buddy started writing graffiti in 1972 and used a variety of tags until he settled on ESQ. Most people would consider 1972 to be pretty early in graffiti history, but to his credit, when Buddy was asked if he was one of the graffiti pioneers, he said, “no that was Phase 2,” who only started a year earlier.
One day some officers from the local precinct came by his house to tell his parents about his artistic vandalism, and Buddy got grounded for half the summer and lost his comic book collection as punishment. So Buddy got out of graffiti, even though neither the police nor his parents found his marker and spray-paint stash.
Buddy must have been pretty good at b-ball (as was Phase 2), as his partner in park basketball throughout the 1970s was a 6’9″ dude named Eddie Pinckney, who went on to win a championship with Villanova in 1985 before going pro.
In 1976 rap music began spreading in the Bronx. The new style had kicked off in 1973 with a Kool Herc party, but a year later Afrika Bambaataa merged the creative elements of ghetto culture and soon began calling it Hip Hop.
In 1977, Buddy was customizing jean jackets, and had mastered a professional style that looked nothing like his graffiti or the stencil letters others were applying to shirts and jackets. The Funky Four all got their jean jackets customized by Buddy. Later that year, he made his first hip hop flyer for a local block party. In November of 1978, Tony Tone asked him to do a flyer for a Breakout jam. The results were so good that when Tony, Charlie Chase and Grandmaster Caz put together the Cold Crush, they began using Buddy for almost all their flyers. Meanwhile, Phase 2 had already established himself as the main flyer maker for Grandmaster Flash and the Furious, as well as the creator of the “hood deco” style, which certainly helped goose vibrations and expectations. Before long, The Furious and Cold Crush would become the premier groups of hip hop, and Buddy and Phase would be known as the hip hop flyer kings.
I just saw on Facebook Buddy is no longer with us, and wonder what could have possibly happened. If anyone knows, please drop me a note or a comment and I’ll update this. And if anyone knows about any upcoming tributes, please spread the info.