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On this date in 1959, graffiti legend IZ THE WIZ was born Michael Martin in Queens, New York, making Rockaway Beach is home for most of his life.

The NYC born bomber began writing in graf’s infantile stages in the early 70s but became more prolific in his own right when he took on his “IZ” moniker in 1975. By the early 80s, Martin had become one of the city’s most visible graf artists, with panels and top to bottoms on arguably every line. He is one of the founders of the Phun Factory in Long Island City, Queens, which later became known as the now-defunct 5 Pointz Art Gallery. IZ was also one of the writers featured in the graffiti cult classic flick Style Wars, which also stars famed graf king and radio personality DJ Kay Slay.

Even though he passed away in Spring Hill, Florida in 2009 at age 50, The Wiz’s work continues to influence the graffiti community, where his work is still paid homage by artists and curators of art of all genres. On behalf of The Source.com and the entire Hip Hop community, we’d like to wish IZ a happy born day on what would’ve been his 61st birthday.

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