SHIRT KING PHADE | "REVOLT 60S. RIOT 90S. REPENT 2020."
EDWIN SACASA AKA SHIRT KING PHADE
REVOLT 60S. RIOT 90S. REPENT 2020. [TRIPTYCH] 
Acrylic paint, airbrush, and marker on canvas. Rightmost canvas signed lower right.
Each measuring 30 x 48 in.
This powerfully symbolic triptych combines Phade's trademark graffiti style, interspersing cartoon characters with scenes representing the 1960s, 1990s, and 2020. Juxtaposing Angela Davis and a shadow-figure carrying an upside down American flag with 1960s cartoon characters Boris & Natasha, Riot scenes of the 1990s with a police van in flames alongside 1990s characters such as Stewie Griffin, Sponge Bob Squarepants, and Marvin the Martian, and in a 2020 scene, a shadow-figure carrying a sign reading "Repent!" next to Lisa from the Simpsons wearing a face-mask, in a clear reference to the Covid pandemic.
In the early days of Hip Hop, a graffiti artist from New York known as Shirt King Phade created a following with his custom airbrushed t-shirts. In the Eighties, Edwin “Phade” Sacasa transferred his passion for graffiti from the surface of trains to the surface of t- shirts.
Fabric became his new canvas and soon enough, Shirt King Phade, along with his partners “the Shirt Kings”, transferred street culture and street art onto clothing becoming the first to commercialize their graffiti. Some say this was the birth of the streetwear concept.
Customization was the hallmark of the Shirt Kings. For every piece and customer, the graffiti was custom-made. Always painted with airbrush, the Shirt King style is immediately recognizable. Remixing pop culture elements and icons, we see Mickey Mouse sporting a gold chain while smoking, the Pink Panther reclining on a champagne bottle, and more. Through their vision, cartoons became badass, and a part of the foundation of graffiti streetwear.
After opening a store in Queens at the Coliseum Mall, the shop became iconic in the Hip Hop scene, in the same way Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s SEX shop was to the punk scene. Some of the hip-hop’s biggest stars began passing through their doors. From the likes of Jay Z, Jam Master Jay and RZA, Phade and the Shirt Kings’ apparel found their way into several of these artists’ visual media helping to create some of hip-hop’s most iconic images.
Today, Shirt King Phade continues to work with the biggest names in Hip Hop, Hollywood, and beyond. His artwork has undoubtedly transcended boundaries, and influenced style movements. Phade has collaborated with the biggest names in streetwear including Supreme, Stüssy, Nike, Champion, and others.
See, Alan "Ket" Maridueña and Edwin "Phade" Sacasa. Shirt Kings: Pioneers of Hip Hop Fashion, 2013.
Shawna Kenney "Phade, Portrait of a Shirt King": https://www.rockthebells.com/blogs/articles/phade-portrait-of-a-shirt-king