Sunday, December 20, 2009


NOTE: The above article originally ran in an issue of VIBE magazine (publication date is unknown).

Chuck D photo: Jean Pierre


A 'hood legend for his precise pen-and can control, HAZE made an indelible mark on hip hop history with lucid logos.

"I was on a mission to not do the predictable graffiti thing"

In 1972, at the age of 11, Eric Haze started spraying his name all over New York City. Eleven years later, as a student at the School of Visual Arts, he gained advanced technical and conceptual skills and went on to apply his graf training to art direction. He designed classic covers like LL cool J's BAD (Bigger and Deffer), as well as logos for EPMD, Tommy Boy, Cold Chillin' and many others. Today, HAZE, 44, runs his self-titled design and clothing company and has homes in New York and Los Angeles.

When LL came to my studio to discuss Bigger and Deffer, he said to me, "Yo, Haze, I know you can hook up that graffiti shit, hook up some fat graf." And I was like, Yo, L this isn't a breakbeats album. we wanna come some more hardcore shit. I was on a mission to not do the predictable graffiti thing, whether it was to prove to myself, or heads, or other designers that there's a much more technically proficient way to deal with lettering. it wasn't just about copping a tag for everybody. L agreed, so I did what I did, which was much more hard-core B-boy style. You have to remember I did this and EPMD before I had a computer, so I did them all by hand. I had to work them out mathematically on tissue paper, draw them with a rapidograph, and clean them up on photostat paper. Anyway, I get the proof back from CBS, and this is like my favorite shit. I showed LL and he said, "Yo, that shit looks like gettin' paid, kid!" That was the ultimate B-boy compliment.

Leggo My Logo
Haze Critques the emblems that followed in his sizable footsteps.

BAD BOY: Bad Boy has a graf type of character, but it's not very universal in that sense and became quickly dated as a result. It lacks a timeless and universal quality that makes for greatness.

RUFF RYDERS: This works. It's an ill gangsta R. It can translate across mediums. Some logos look good on an album cover, but will it make a dope pendant? Does it work half an inch tall? Does it work 10 stories tall with the same feeling? Ruff Ryders is good.

DEATH ROW: It's not the friendliest logo I've ever seen. It serves its purpose, although the lettering looks like somebody hit a button on a computer, which doesn't rate to high in my world. I'll stop there with my honest opinion for fear of my life.

ROC-A-FELLA: It's definitely nothing special. It's like generic hip hop illustration-- it doesn't set itself apart from anything, and it isn't too merchandise friendly. The Rocawear visuals are better than Roc-A-Fella's, from what I see.

NOTE: The above article, by Nate Denver, originally ran in an issue of VIBE magazine (publication date is unknown).

Eric Haze photo: Christian Pyle


Music historian Stanley Crouch includes Moby-Dick in his lectures about jazz history at Juilliard, even though the novel was written over five decades before jazz developed. According to Crouch, Melville was an expert at improvisation.

"Moby-Dick is largely an improvisation in which you observe Herman Melville following his ear through the book. Moby-Dick is about as close to as spontaneously written book as you're going to encounter." He gets to the end of a chapter and says okay, what now? Oh, okay, I ll try that. And then he goes with it. The thing that's so amazing about it is that, form wise, the book is an extraordinary exhibition of absolute fearlessness."

--Stanley Crouch

"...In this piece of James P. Johnson's, who's often considered the father of stride piano, is that it has to me that same kind of a feeling that we get in Moby-Dick, which is that you have these motifs but they keep changing form."

--Stanley Crouch

Crouch discusses Jazz and Melville's literary improvisation
on NPR's Studio 360 radio program.

Pictured from top to bottom: Critic Stanley Crouch, Moby-Dick author Herman Melville, illustration of Moby-Dick, Jazz muician James P. Johnson