TOOMER, Graffiti Writer featured in Infamy, of TKO crew

Infamy featured artist Toomer, now a gigantic, bald headed Mexican-American Chicano man of 30 years old, got his start in graffiti in 1988 as a junior high schooler in the gang-ridden neighborhood of South Los Angeles. Toomer describes the neighborhood as “a couple feet from South Central, Watts, and Compton. In the early 1990s, every time I went out my house there was some car driving by and someone shooting out it.” While gangs are territorial, graffiti is about exploring and painting in new places. Toomer remembers that “I’d go south from my house to go to a shopping area and I would get hassled by one gang. If I went north, to go buy some food, I would get hassled by another. I couldn’t really paint in my little town because there was a gang problem, so I would go to other parts of the city. In the early ‘nineties I practically lived in downtown LA and had everything crushed with graffiti.”

The amount of graffiti that Toomer put forth certainly caught the attention of the authorities in LA. “I went down to Tijuana after having my home raided by the police, I figured my probation officer wouldn’t exactly care if I went there.” While in Mexico, Toomer began to paint more elaborate and colorful murals, at the request of local property owners there. After coming back to LA, he continued to paint large legal murals, however reluctantly. “I don’t really like doing nice shit and murals, but I have no choice here in California. I have two strikes, two felonies. Korean liquor storeowners would give me their walls because they were tired of getting their store tagged every day. The only thing I have to do, sometimes, is throw some approved characters and themes in there, but not always. I later did one building that a guy from the Black Panthers owed and he was like ‘you can do absolutely whatever you want – a cop getting shot, whatever.’ And so I did.” With his reputation for painting throughout the city as the king of Los Angeles, Toomer was a natural for hip-hop artists to turn to when they needed artwork, whether logos or murals. From 1995-2000, Toomer traveled the United States with hip hop acts, working on music videos and tours with Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill, MC Eiht, Mack 10, Ice Cube, Maya, Run DMC, Salt n Pepa, and others. His clients included Priority Records, Joker Clothing, and the Larry Flynt-owned Rap Pages Magazine. Toomer’s graffiti has made him one of the most visible artists in Los Angeles for more than fifteen years, and whether those walls are legally or illegally painted, for Toomer, they are all fair game. As he states in the film, “with all the things that God’s dealing with, I really don’t think he’s gonna throw a bolt my way because I’m painting on some dirty abandoned building.”