Known as the “King of the Flyer,” Buddy Esquire was the premier show flyer artist in the Bronx during the earliest days of hip hop. Combining influences ranging from Bronx Art Deco architecture to superhero comics and Japanese anime, and teaching himself the fundamentals of lettering and graphic design, Esquire created a new artistic style, which has been often borrowed but rarely credited today. “I would take the letters and I would cut them out”, he told an interviewer, “and I would take a ruler and measure them and I would then glue them on the piece of paper where I would want them. Once everything was glued down on the paper I would then draw the background around the letters.” Esquire’s flyers advertised the earliest performances of legends like Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, Kurtis Blow, the Cold Crush Brothers, Spoonie Gee and the Treacherous Three. Edited by Johan Kugelberg, Buddy Esquire: King of the Hip Hop Flyer reveals one of the key sources for hip hop’s visual language, presenting a catalogue raisonné of Esquire’s flyers, visual art and hand-painted clothing. Also featured are never-before-seen photographs of Esquire, his crew and the street art and hip hop culture of the late 1970s and early 80s.
Buddy’s flyer archive lives in the Cornell University Hip Hop Collection. Support Buddy’s forthcoming book, “Buddy Esquire: King of the Hip Hop Flyer” on Sinecure Books, edited by Johan Kugelberg. Pre-order the book here.