Juicy J Is The Josh Kalis Of Rap Music

February 17, 2019

Jenkem, the Web 2.0 endeavour currently bidding to outlive its by-decades forebear TWS, recently saw fit to challenge social media’s persnickety algorithm-twiddlers with a Ride Channel-worthy list feature matching up pro skaters with celebrity rap singers, an exercise in debate-stirring that stirred obligatory debate in comments sections and other corners of our web-0-sphere. As a throne-sitting timekiller it functioned reliably, ranging from the defensible (Stephen Lawyer/Lil Pump) to the deeply incongruous (Dylan Rieder/Tupac), while overlooking obvious parallels such as Terry Kennedy/Terry Kennedy and, most criminally, Josh Kalis/Juicy J.

For several decades now Josh Kalis and Juicy J have lived out curiously concurrent career and life paths, a few of which this here blog technology will explore with immediate effect. Both are widely admired veterans of their respective crafts, wisely sticking to their lanes and rising above fickle and frothy trend-tides to maintain clout and even elevate their statures in what would otherwise be considered their professional autumn years. Both will forever be associated with mark-making as part of iconic crews, formed in their respective home bases: Josh Kalis burning Philadelphia onto the map with Stevie Williams, Anthony Pappalardo, Brian Wenning, Kevin Taylor and others among the Love Park squad; Juicy J in Memphis with DJ Paul, Project Pat, Lord Infamous, Crunchy Black and Hypnotize Minds. It’s possible that Juicy J recorded his famous song ‘Slob’ around the same time Josh Kalis 360 flipped the can for ‘Photosynthesis.’

The sometimes-knowing cartoonishness of Three 6 Mafia’s peak era, similar to the Love Park era-height swishies and bulk boots, remains respected for its honesty and has come to be celebrated, convincingly aped and at times even transcended by a generation that at best twinkled in their parents’ pupils when the original shit was going down. Josh Kalis and Juicy J, after staying loyal to their original outfits probably longer than they needed to, both wound up signing with their proteges. Sensing a niche for a codeine-guzzling, pill-swallowing elder statesman figure, Juicy J looked upon a young guard of doom-draped devil-worshippers not as competitors or pretenders to be squashed, but as fresh energy for collaboration, legacy-burnishment and money getting:

“Them guys are like family members, man. I was on Twitter and everybody was hitting me [like], “Yo, yo yo, you gotta check out these guys, man. $uicideBoy$, their music sound like y’all. It sound like old Three 6 Mafia.”

Josh Kalis too has embraced his uncle status among the Love Park-resuscitating Sabotage crew, risking Pennsylvania’s tax-dispute statute of limitations to contribute a part to volume 4, and helping put them and newly pro-decked John Shanahan on with DGK:

A lot of these guys, Shanahan specifically, are at the forefront of creating a new look with the old stuff. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s his own interpretation of how he makes the mid-to-late 90’s-style look for him and that puts him in a lane of his own. He’s not copying me; he’s doing what John Shanahan likes. It’s taking some of the stuff we did or looked liked to the next level—-the John Shanahan level. His skating is like a better, more-modern twist of ’90s skate. Obviously he’s got way more pop than I’ve ever had.

Josh Kalis has only a handful of tricks in DGK’s new ‘Thoro’ vid, but his and Stevie Williams’ fingerprints are all over it as Dylan Sourbeer, John Shanahan, Kevin Bilyeu, Justin Adeniran and others stomp through Muni and assorted other Philly spots in an HD ‘Sabotage Lite’ masterminded by Brian Panebianco. The steadily sprawling DGK team here is distilled into an East Coast subdivision that occasionally veers into Washington and Chicago’s similar-looking inner-city plazas but never stays too long from those wax-smeared white benches and jumbo-sized board game pieces. Dylan Sourbeer goes end-to-end on an unbelievable backside nosegrind; Kevin Bilyeu deals out a meticulously flicked over-bin nollie flip that’s a QSTOP10 shoe-in; Justin Adeniran bangs a slow-twirling nollie hardflip into a bank and John Shanahan shove-its into various k-grinds and finally the pro ranks, for what seems like his third video part in six months or so.

Does Josh Kalis’ recent reunion with Michigander photog Mike Blabac presage a long-deferred and much-needed resumption of Juicy J’s musical partnership with DJ Paul? What does it say that Josh Kalis has got a brand-new pro model shoe out and not, say, Eric Koston? Will the kids right now in diapers and sock-shoes, who will inevitably one day revive John Shanahan and Brian Panebianco’s own retro stylings, be able to 3D print new Lynxes and Boxers or will they be forced to face off with laser swords at midnight in some Love Park replica to claim the handful of remaining deadstock pairs?

Watching For The Commercials In The Super Bawl Of Fantasy

February 3, 2019

Among the tangiest fantasies of the current, sportswear conglomerate-controlled era is the notion that skateboarders — long overlooked for their perseverance, pain threshold, creativity, daring precision — at last are recognized as equals to those jockstrap-equipped stadium-stuffers boasting major leagues, high exalted commissioners, and medical care generally unreliant on Superglue. It’s a charming tale of a ragged band of misfits made good, still rough around the edges but with hearts of gold, earning a seat for themselves at the big kids’ table of professional sport.

Much like the men, women and genderless robots of ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ who work together to overcome years of interstellar warfare to work toward harmonious human-robot relations of the diplomatic and carnal kind, it is a charming dream. But in this, our Year of the Pig, it remains only that. While majority league minimums in baseball, football and hockey variously challenge lower-tier talents to support a family on $535,000, $480,000 and $650,000, respectively, in skateboarding dudes are autofilling ridesharing applications and, if they’re lucky, receiving boxes with a suitable number of non-wack shoes to sell or trade.

Nevertheless! The most enduring and profitable entertainments find new ways of telling stories that already are well-knowed, if not necessarily true. On the eve of the world’s largest sporting event, Nike this week debuted a new video commercial file, portraying Eric Koston as a 40-something Tom Sawyer figure, mischievously creeping into the backyard of close bud Kyrie Irving to skate a coincidentally empty pool with a few of his closet friends from the 400-person Nike SB team. After Kyrie Irving’s high-cost technology system hips him to these skateboarders’ rascally plan, he uses the security-challenged Apple FaceTime technology to engage Eric Koston in lighthearted banter, humorously admonishing him to ‘call first.’

The commercial on its merits is fine, if bland. Its main misstep is propelling an unconvinced audience into a fantasy land where multimillionaire NBA stars and pro skaters are jovial, back-slapping peers — a story, perhaps, that Nike likes to tell itself. But remember, it’s the NBA player’s mansion and pool, not Eric Koston’s.

A better path would be for Nike to recognize and satirize the already lopsided dynamic. Eric Koston, Lance Mountain and Alex Olson slouch in an office doorway facing a mid-level Nike marketing official, who tells them they need to come up with a concept for a Nike skateboarding commercial — “some ramp stuff that’ll play in the Midwest,” he barks before slamming shut the door. Out in the hallway, Kyrie Irving walks by with his entourage, on his phone loudly scheduling pool cleaners for the upcoming weekend when he’ll be out of town. The Nike SB riders look at one another and begin texting their teammates.

Cut to the session at Kyrie Irving’s freshly emptied pool, where Eric Koston peels off a roll of bills (tens and fives, naturally) for a couple of lounging pool cleaners, while Lance Mountain, AO and others film tricks.

Cut to the following Monday, where Eric Koston delivers the edited footage to the grouchy Nike marketing official. They put it on in his office, and Kyrie Irving again passes by with his entourage in the hallway — but this time Kyrie Irving looks in and stops, staring at the screen. Eric Koston slumps down in his chair as Kyrie Irving looks from the screen to Koston, back to the screen. Kyrie Irving gives Koston a quizzical look: “Wait, you work here?” The commercial ends.

Did skateboarder’s hopes for a professional minimum salary level die along with Rob Dyrdek’s dreams for a skaters’ union? Does there exist a ‘rough cut’ of Nike’s commercial in which Kyrie Irving clowns Eric Koston for not having a video game character in the last 10 years’ worth of THPS titles? Is this commercial ripe for parody by the remaining aggressive inline rollerbladers, except where they’re barging Lance Mountain’s backyard pool?

Trendwatch 2K19: Lawyering Up

January 26, 2019

Soda headband all the way on, Leticia Bufoni last week showed the rickety, seatbeltless and whiplash-providing rollercoaster that is the competitive contest skater’s emotional inner life on this, tha eve of the 2020 Summer Time Olympics. With a nearly half-full arena on its feet, Leticia Bufoni goes full Bastien on a serviceable lipslide, only to see it all torn away moments later by the fatal combo of Aori Nishimura’s rote boardslide and an opaque scoring algorithm. Such is the story of all our lives, only with less national pride and energy juice funds at stake, and perhaps bodily safety.

The Seaholmed setup says it all, speaking not only for Leticia Bufoni, but the team she represents. Beyond the Plan B FamilyTM, the path toward wallowing in Olympic gold and loudly blared sovereign anthems increasingly stands a group effort, paved in judicial tomes and buttressed by rich mahogany wall paneling, professionalized places where all-black Emerica shifters probably don’t cut the workwear mustard like they might in the computer science or customer service realms. It is within such hallowed halls that the would-be action sporting medalhoister must seek wisdom and succor for those tricks that require fine print decypherage, or specialist counsel for bloody scrapes of the legal kind.

Skateboarding always has been governed by unwritten rules; increasingly, it bows to written ones, trading no-compliance for steadier career pathways, societal thumbs-ups and, crucially, coin of the realm with which any number of foreign cars and uniquely shaped vape pens can be acquired*. Egged on by roller sports governing bureaucracies and gymnastics entrepreneurs, skateboarding has tooted the Olympics Warp Whistle, and now the miniature tornado approaches, promising transport to a new and wetly glistening land. Here awaits governance: the uniforms and sticker placement strictures are yet to come, but already Olympic aspirants such as Creature fiend Cory Juneau are running afoul of drug policies, with the support and encouragement of Mount Olympus clout-chasers such as Street League, and shouted from official rooftops by megaphone-bearers including World Skate President Sabatino Aracu and UK Anti-Doping educational and support executive Amanda Hudson:

“With skateboarding set to make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, it’s vital that athletes have a good educational grounding on all things ‘clean sport’ and their anti-doping responsibilities, ahead of the Games.”

In many ways these developments reflect simply an Elton Johnish mobius strip: More rules require more lawyers and administrators, whose salaries and billable hours require more funding via corporate sponsorships, requiring more big events, requiring more rules and administration, requiring more administrators and lawyers, requiring more sponsors and exclusive partners. This looping logic is reminiscent of many naturally occurring circles, including the bassline of the Big Tymers’ famous 2000 single ‘Get Ur Roll On.’

Are the Olympics the end result of such a cycle or a catalyst for more? Does the accumulation of wealth, like a katamari rolling swiftly down a mountain made of dollar bills, make legal targets out of accumulators and profit drivers such as Nyjah Huston? Could a reasonably priced yet highly respected correspondence-course law degree place Frank Gerwer in position to emerge as skating’s Jackie Chiles?

*Real ones will recall one of Rob Dyrdek’s cardinal rules of professional skating: lease, don’t buy

Psychic Fluids, Astral Forces And Further Fruits From 2018’s Video Cornucopia

January 1, 2019

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Nate Pezzillo’Untitled 003’
A monster going up and over Muni’s cylinders — and squeezes a shove-it Suski from Love Park’s shriveling husk

Marcello Campanello’Mode’
Fakie boss in the Borroughs, with the cab kickflip backside tailslide

Austyn Gillette’Radiant Cure’
Switch shove-it rewinds with extra savoir faire

Charlie Cassidy’NY Archive’
Glass slicer boardslide and that backside noseblunt — skates like a Philly dude

Corey Glick’Souvenir’
Helping put Foundation into the conversation again with gusto, a fakie flip switch backside smith grind and a will not to clip on that last, scary jump

Shintaro Hongo’Pick Up’
The thought of rural Japanese spots is a trip — ferocious backside flip and bluntslides

Jake Johnson’Purple’
A glimpse of the master in his Penny period

Kyle Wilson’YS Video’
The float on the switch heelflip

Brian Delatorre’Purple’
GX OG, at home nollieing backside over a tremendous bar, or reclining in a backside smith grind

John Shanahan’Street Sweeper’
This year bringing back the fakie pop shove and tic-tacs, and with a pro deck in the works, revealing at last what lies beneath the Flexfits

1. Tyshawn Jones — ‘Blessed’

December 31, 2018

Bill Strobeck earlier this decade helped to save skate video by rejecting the prevailing model of yearslong filming campaigns, budget bloat and too-long productions prone to crumplling beneath impossibly hyped expectations. Instead he went straight to YouTube, dug up archival clips and let the VX roll liberally on lurkers for three-minute snapshots that got more burn than some clothing and shoe money-backed full lengths. A few years down the line and steering his own big video, Bill Strobeck’s ‘Blessed’ got caught up in a lot of the same excesses, from ponderous slow-mo to a near-90 minute runtime that its creator requests be consumed in full. He’s still among the best since Baker at fusing the traditional video part with the recent ‘raw files’ fixation, panning around a few seconds before and after to let atmospherics elevate the trick — an approach that in ‘Blessed’ functioned best for Tyshawn Jones, situating him taking his lumps in the gutters while ascending to the tip-toppiest of pro skating’s tiers, with perfect, incredible hard tricks at the gnarliest New York spots in pricey, limited-edition pants. Like a gold brick smashing an abandoned storefront window, Tyshawn Jones’s skating feels imperial and commanding, brazen and loud — he’s cracking tricks thigh-high in traffic, hopping handrails with a backpack on, skipping pushes between tables in California, looking for ways to make the fearsome NY courthouse drop harder to skate. There is the street gap fakie flip, the switch backside lipslide over top of the Columbus Park rail, the silky nollie backside flip over the black hubba in Garrett Hill pants, the shifty incorporation. But the switch backside heelflip interlude encapsulates the dude’s late-2018 moment, chopping a lock, tangling with security and stacking multiple times on the way to an immaculate catch and euphoric push-away, packing into the van for the escape, everybody screaming their heads off.

2. Dick Rizzo — ‘Mother’

December 30, 2018

Add to the list, under skipping over the top step and triple-tapping walls — self-consciously counting eye blinks, after Dick Rizzo’s hard-wrestled and finally successful backside nosegrind backside 180 into the Grant’s Tomb chute, captured in minute detail for Quasi’s compulsively rewatchable full-length debut last summer. The thumping, dusty East Coast that Dick Rizzo rips top to bottom and day to night in ‘Mother’ threatens with drill-bit flatbars, blood red cellar door clangers and irate, self-appointed Arguses of the Mason-Dixon region who foolishly try and hate on Dick Rizzo and his switch 180s. Whether or not he compulsively blinks twice before his other tricks, like the look-out-below nollie wallride, or while switch powersliding between his back-to-back handrail 180s, remains a matter between Dick Rizzo and his priest. However, some type of uncommon grace infuses this dude straight through his tiptoe ride-aways, like on the ollie out to 5-0 or the bluntslide cab out in ‘Mother’s intro. All dieties are hereby urged to direct healing properties toward Dick Rizzo’s ankle following Bam Margera’s recent blow-out, and deliver unto him an overdue professional board for 2019.

3. Diego Najera — ‘Adelante’

December 29, 2018

It has been a good year for 90-degree catches, from Tyshawn Jones’ vicious backside drifts to Josh Wilson’s expertly turned varial flip in ‘Mother,’ placing him among the trick’s few acceptable practitioners. Striped-pants rippler Diego Najera makes the list with one of the finer switch inward heelflips since John Igei flew a black flag over the Pier 7 block, piloted with the gentle giant grace that this dude has settled into over the past coupla years. From his opening performance of the dope dance in its classic form, you know the vid is gonna be good: Diego Najera’s upper-body trajectory on the switch kickflip up New York’s three up-three down is so perfect as to fool the watcher into thinking there maybe weren’t any stairs there at all; a nollie frontside 180 nosegrind 180 out is managed with no tic-tac, a feat; he spreads a Kalis wingspan on the beautifully filmed 360 flip and later on cab flips into a crowdful of Macba bustle, no pit stains. This dude has the typical Primitive flip-trick command but also a taste for some lesser-dones, like the nollie flip backside nosegrind on the little rail or the backside noseblunt to fakie on the bench, and heavily skating Primitive’s attractive Don Pendleton series hurts none at all.

4. Niels Bennett — ‘Doll’

December 28, 2018

Girl’s quarter century-heavy legacy doesn’t rest squarely on Niels Bennett’s scrawny, concrete-reclining-on shoulders, but after years in the murky wilderness of what’s cool with the kids, the Torrance boys could do far worse than the fakie-popping ‘No Hotels’ alum who sparked the ‘Doll’ October surprise before the opening skit. Niels Bennett’s form looks as good on Polar-pleasers like the barrier Gonz-comply and switch wallride as it does on the moves more overtly out of the Girl am playbook, like the long-haul, million-mph frontside blunt and the hubba SSBSTS. Two Niels Bennetts could probably fit in Brandon Biebel’s red XXXL, but his pipes-heavy line at 3rd and Army and run through the sand gaps could convincingly place this part in ‘Yeah Right.’

5. Chris Jones — ‘365 Days On Planet Earth Pt. 1’

December 27, 2018


Atmospherics fog and drip through the efforts of Jacob Harris, probably the UK’s leading videomaker now working — his long lens is less claustrophobic than Bill Strobeck’s, letting the spots, places, squishy ocean creatures and, importantly, his Isle-aligned subjects room to shape the part or clip or whatever it may be. It was Chris Jones earlier this year living and surviving abroad and at home, conveying gray skies, memory, apprehension, comfy sweaters, switch backside ledge tricks and sometimes gathering one’s self inward to fit through tight spaces. All the brick and muted tones and plinking piano easily carve a place for this alongside the best of Britain’s output over the past 20 years.

6. John Gardner – ‘Street Sweeper’

December 26, 2018


A sitar-spiced, yoga-flavoured ollie-grabber may well be an incongruous look for DC Shoe Co USA amid its current Y2K nostalgia flex, but bear ye in mind: DC’s arguable glory days fused AVE’s sweaty hesh-ledging with Stevie Williams’ graphical denims and Colin McKay in late-career parrothead mode. Meanwhile Ipath may be another year or two from its next private equity-backed relaunch, and John Gardner seems to sport the requisite level of yellow. Accompanying the steadily sprawling DC team to various heavily trafficked East Coast spots didn’t seem to diminish John Gardner’s cockeyed and off-center approach, as he found lesser-trod lines through Pulaski and a couple of New York’s regular summer tourist destinations. And his thirst for risk remains in place, as per the round-the-corner coping ride and a rare flip trick into a glass bank, or skating an air conditioner.