Time was, actual skating – the “putting in work” popularized by labor movement mavens Rob & Big – won you absolutely no career points in the pro skateboarding game, and keeping a low profile was an art best cultivated in darkened Los Angeles clubs or the occasional “rave party” (as the kids called them back then). The advent of the video age, coinciding with cash money once again pouring into skating, changed that, with the likes of Brad Staba (who’s successfully kept work-putting-in at bay for most of the last decade) bemoaning the unending pursuit of footage back in “Modus.” The distressing humanity of a Super 8 tour in the “Final Flare” documentary is enough to make me feel for the Carrolls and Howards and maybe even Marianos (who more or less perfected profiling-as-career) who are old enough to remember a time when every day wasn’t spent feverishly filming, and YouTube hadn’t yet reduced the shelf life of video parts to a matter of weeks.
But here we are. Kellen James is one of these young Turks with the energy and know-how to film a six minute part of retardedly hard tricks (switch f/s bluntslide, switch f/s smith grind, cabellerial b/s tailslide bigspin etc etc), and also confident enough the skating will hold people’s interest that he sets it all to a kind of tuneless Jay-Z mash-up. With everybody from Stefan Janoski to Jimmy Cao turning in multi-song parts maybe this is what you need to do to get peoples’ attention, but it helps that James has the firepower of a Sean Malto and a powerful beard to boot. To seal the deal, why not pump out another few minutes of tricks. Hardest working dude this year for sure, if you count skating for Peter Smolik as working and not some sort of bizarre daily pleasure cruise.