Phase 2 is credited as the originator of the bubble letter style that is now commonplace in graffiti and street art.
Lonny Wood, best known by his moniker Phase 2, has passed away. According to a report from HiphopDX, Wood passed away earlier this week and had been in the hospital since August with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Wood presumably died in his ’60s (his Wikipedia claims he was born in 1955, while an Artnet page on the late creative has him listed as being born in 1957 and 1958).
Wood is credited as the originator of the bubble letter style of writing that is now commonplace in graffiti and street art. As HipHopDX also notes, Wood “DJ’d, rapped, made logos for Mike & Dave Records of Cash Crew fame and was a member of the B-Boy crew Electrified Movement as well. He was also responsible for assembling another infamous B-Boy crew called The New York City Breakers.”
Wood is also known for creating flyers for hip-hop’s early days, having made flyers for Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, and others.
“When I went to Grandmaster Flash’s manager to suggest making flyers to advertise their jams, there really wasn’t anything like that happening, and that’s why I suggested it,” Wood said in an interview with AIGA. “What you did have were big Merengue posters by Salsa Kenny and Izzy Sanabria, but we weren’t really promoting jams on any real level like that. I thought that it made sense to, so I started doing flyers for Flash, and then the wave came behind it.”
A number of people have offered tributes on social media since news of Wood’s passing surfaced. Veteran New York City Hip Hop promotor Van Silk took to Facebook to share how Wood made his first set of flyers when he started promoting his own shows.
DJ Premier, El-P, R.A the Rugged Man, MC Debbie D, Lord Finesse and others also offered tributes, which can be read below.
R.I.P. and Salute To One Of Our Pioneer Writers PHASE 2…
Incredible Graffiti Artist and Pioneer Of The First HIP HOP FLYERS In NY along With Buddy Esquire…
Your Legacy Will NEVER Be Forgotten!!!
I WILL ALWAYS PAY HOMAGE TO OUR PIONEERS… pic.twitter.com/9FaTIsKAqK
— DJ Premier (@REALDJPREMIER) December 13, 2019
RIP to graffiti icon PHASE 2. I became friends with him in the late 90s but I wasnt educated on the graffiti side of the culture. I had no idea what an iconic figure he was at first BUT then anytime I mentioned PHASE 2 first thing EVERYONE would say is Yo!! THAT MAN IS A LEGEND
— R.A. the Rugged Man (@RAtheRuggedMan) December 13, 2019
RIP to a fallen King, the legendary pioneer flyer creator, Phase 2. In the 70s, he and Buddy Esquire were the “go to” flyer makers. If you couldn’t get one, you got the other! Two of the best flyer makers to ever do it!!! Rest those hands, my brother! ❤️🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/8I5OPV0mh4
— MC Debbie D (@MCDebbieD) December 13, 2019
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Damn… This is crazy.. R.I.P. Phase 2 (Graf Legend & Pioneer) Where do I begin here.??? I knew Lonnie since I was a kid. Unknown to most we grew up together in Forest Projects in the Bronx “same building.. same floor” building #965 I never knew he was a writer until I became an artist and was running into him in different parts of the world 🌎. Also known along with Buddy Esquire for creating the legendary Early Hip Hop flyers. I just knew him as my next door neighbor before that. We always got a good laugh about where art had taken both of us. Always proud of his iconic journey in the Graf world. Rest In Peace Brother 🙏🏽🙏🏽 #Phase2 #TheLegend #TheIcon 👑✊🏽✊🏽👍🏽
If you ever wrote Graf or just enjoy the artform you are indebted to the man #Phase2 Rest In Paint 👑 Phase2 a true legend and historian of the culture the mans contributions are so important. Thank you for everything you gave us #TrueLegend #TrueKing #Phase2
— Dante Ross (@DanteRoss) December 13, 2019
RIP PHASE2. Beyond the letters, his whole philosophy light years ahead of everyone else. pic.twitter.com/kK6lijAmWv
— One Foot in the Gravy (@DanLactose) December 13, 2019
RIP to the pioneer PHASE2 pic.twitter.com/NWqXLXkY7r
— Hanif Abdurraqib (@NifMuhammad) December 13, 2019