Mystery over 'wanted' ex-drug dealer who's become tattooist to hip hop's biggest stars

While his guise might be veiled, his intentions are wholly obvious

Sarah Young
Thursday 22 December 2016 13:25 GMT
"I been raging against the machine from the start"
"I been raging against the machine from the start"

An ex-drug dealer from London has become a tattooist to some of grime and hip-hop's biggest stars – but no-one knows who he is.

Known only as Traphouse Tattooer, the artist has gained more than 10,000 Instagram followers as a result of inking musicians including Skepta and A$AP Rocky.

But there's a reason for his reluctance to throw himself into the spotlight.

Speaking to Complex recently, he admitted: “I have done a lot of bad things as myself and I have warrants for my arrest here, I have warrants for my arrest in New York.”

Instead, he used social media to get his work out there.

“Because this wasn’t supported by shops and this wasn’t recognised as a style or a popular thing that people wanted, I had to book a hotel and I was living out of a hotel for a couple of months in a Travelodge and just battering the Instagram myself.”

Influenced by line drawings and London youth culture, Traphouse’s Instagram showcases some of his best designs but, it also provides an insight into his nameless world.

He uses the captions to describe his work, but also his life, with one appearing to be an ode to his home city.

“We have history, we started dating many years ago, when I was just a young bull, before anything else, the first tattoo I got was London. I tattooed the city's name on my skin.

”It was deep before then but that was when it became official at the supple age of 14 ... Shottin (slang for drug dealing) was key to survival, provided everything I have.

“I've done so much off dirty money n never saw value in an honest pound. I don't think anythin negative about it.

”I'm not your average passer by, I can't conform to conventional ideologies. I can't be the suit an tie bozo. I know better than that an I've never wanted to work for “the man” I been raging against the machine from the start.“

The self-confessed drug dealer, despite his anonymity, is entirely relatable to so many and, without doubt, has his social media presence to thanks for the buzz surrounding his work.

While his guise might be veiled, his intentions are wholly obvious.

“I feel like you show know the person behind the art,” he explains, “It’s not just a product and a service, it is very personal. I make a personal connection with everyone I tattoo. I’m going to be putting something on you for life so I will make that friendship, that connection.”

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