With the divorce of my parents in the early eighties, I remember a strong, personal desire to find stability and encouragement during that difficult season of my life. After finishing my freshman year in high school, I was invited to a church youth group and there, for the first time I saw some guys break-dancing. I knew at that moment my life was about to take an entirely different direction. I started a journey that would form a foundation that would guide me through life with a respect for people and an understanding of life that only the Hip Hop culture could deliver. From the racial and political lyrics of the emcee, the visual outpouring of opinions and emotions of the graffiti artists, the expressive grace and moves of the breakdancer, and the timing and styles of the DJ, these elements formed a cornerstone of my life that would only strengthen in time and lead me to a more complete self.
I am Timm Etters, AKA Jyro.
I am a professional mural artist who, in the mid eighties, was a cancer battling, teenage graffiti artist & b-boy. I spent my days break-dancing, DJing and studying the ways of Hip-Hop with my crew. We were known as "The CREW Masters" and later changed our name to "Revolution '86", representing our year of high school graduation. The nights were the times to spend expressing ideas on train bridges and underpasses with spray cans and courage. In our small, suburban town, the ways of Hip-Hop were not even heard of yet. The "Crew" exposed an entire community to a cultural explosion, one person at a time. Back when all we heard were things like, "It's just a fad..." and "Why are you guys listening to that music?!?” We knew at that time that we were on to something HUGE. In a town where Whites were more than 90% of the total population and Hispanics covered the rest, I learned that life outside our little corner of the world was much more diverse and colorful than I had ever imagined. My life was getting richer by the moment.
Through the years, I have taken those memories and experiences and have designed many T-shirts, Drawings, Murals, and now, Fine Art with Hip-Hop as the primary theme. Afrika Bambaataa, RUN DMC, Kurtis Blow, LL Cool J, Rakim, Whodini, and many more of the pioneers have been the main inspiration for my work. Hip-Hop History is the theme of my paintings that will hopefully spark interest in the youth of today and tomorrow to research and hold on to the pure ideals and richness that is Hip-Hop.
The CREW Masters is one of the best documented crews of the early 80's Midwest Hip Hop scene.
Everything from photos and videos, meeting minutes, early BPM lists and catalogued music, and journal entries. This crew was involved in every element of Hip Hop at the birth of the explosion of the culture.
Enjoy the journey...
Below are some of the journal entries and stories from those days.
Back in the 1970s, graffiti in New York's boroughs was virtually unheard of to the rest of the country. By the time Hip Hop adopted graffiti as one of its primary elements by the late '70s, the raw, gritty art form was making its way into the hearts of kids all over the country. By the early '80s, art galleries around the world were starting to feature writers from around the world. Graffiti changed everything. As a colorblind artist, graffiti is what got me to use color in my artwork after six years of drawing in pencil to strengthen my skills.
Again, graffiti changed everything...
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The term “Hip Hop” has come to mean many things in today’s culture, both negative and positive. But for those of us who have been inspired, influenced and invigorated by the subculture of Graffiti, the DJ, B-Boy (break dancer) and MC’s, it is simultaneously a philosophy AND a lifestyle.
These “Four” elements have ignited the artistic passions of young people from it’s birthplace in the Bronx to the “Four” corners of the earth. And thank God that it didn’t bypass the Midwest! Otherwise we would not have been blessed with the likes of a “Jyro” aka Timm Etters and the crew that he founded in 1983; The Crewmasters.
As a B-Boy, DJ, Graffiti writer and commercial artist recognized by many of the founders and forefathers of Hip Hop, he has overcome color blindness, cancer and spinal stenosis as well as becoming one of the most prolific and celebrated American muralists. Timm has transcended the traditional “B-Boy stance” into one of humility as a servant to the community and as a generous teacher to the next generation of budding artists.
His abilities in artistic expression have been celebrated by not only his local community but also by legends within the Chicagoland area such as the late great Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears whom he had the honor of meeting and even receiving a number of commissions from the Hall of Famer. The reverberations of his skill has even reached Hip Hop’s undisputed “Mecca” of the Bronx, New York where one of his paintings was received by Hip Hop Pioneer and founder of New York’s Zulu Nation, Afrika Bambaataa.
In the time that I have known him, He has taught me that the true meaning of “Hip Hop” is rising above adversity, tragedy, depression and disability in order to dream, discover and demolish all limitations as we exceed all expectations. Maybe that’s why he always ends his interactions with the phrase, “Hip Hop, don’t stop!”
“One Love” my brother!
Edgar “Szahans” Ramos • MC/Graffiti Artist • THEM BAD APPLES Crew (TBA) EST. 1989