The whole “Who’s Banksy” mystery is kinda played out at this point — in 2017, we’re more interested in mysteries like “Hey, where did our healthcare go?” — but nevertheless, the question of the identity of the shadowy graffiti artist has been nagging at the world for the best part of 20 years. The best/most-intriguing theory is that he is none other than Robert “3D” Del Naja of Massive Attack, and while that idea might seem too wild for its own good, it appears that it might nevertheless be the truth. The latest piece of supporting evidence: as per Spin, jungle legend Goldie accidentally referred to Banksy as “Rob” on a podcast hosted by UK rapper Scroobius Pip.
The slip came as Goldie discussed Banksy’s commercial ubiquity: “Give me a bubble letter, put it on a t-shirt, write Banksy on it, and we’re sorted, we’re OK, we’re good,” he said. ‘We can sell it now. We can make it something else. No disrespect to Rob. I think he’s a brilliant artist. I think he’s flipped the world of art over.”
It wouldn’t be surprising in the least if Goldie knew Banksy’s true identity, especially if that identity was indeed Del Naja: both have a long background in the world of UK graffiti. The fascinating 1987 documentary Bombin’, which examined the influence of US hip hop and graffiti culture on the UK, features both artists heavily — at one point, they’re seen tagging together in Birmingham. In the late 1980s, they joined together with several other artists to set up the Trans-Atlantic Federation, which was — as its name suggests — a collective whose membership included both UK- and US-based graffiti artists. (There’s some fascinating old pictures of them here.)
In other words, the two go way back, and if Del Naja was indeed Banksy, Goldie would no doubt be in on the secret. Still, this isn’t definitive proof — as Spin’s news piece points out, “There’s also another Rob who has been subject of Banksy speculation: Robin Gunningham, a Bristol man whose name came up in a Daily Mail repot from 2008 and again in a ‘geographic profiling’ investigation from scientists at the Queen Mary University of London last year.” This correspondent wouldn’t trust the Daily Mail to report the weather, but the QMU investigation certainly makes some convincing arguments, so the mystery isn’t solved just yet. Shout out Rob, though.