Most people enjoy being the dominant life form in whatever room, building or landscape they may occupy. Cactuses, sperm whales and the common housefly all stand meekishly in the shadow of humankind’s achievements, which include mastering fire, developing the multibillion dollar telecom industry, and the Garfield coffee mug franchise. Even the largest and most ornate beaver dams and termite mounds are a joke compared to man’s buildings which literally tower over other species, often dominating them in their own habitats.
In recent decades skateboarders similarly have differentiated themselves from other members of their species, displaying a capability to navigate backyard transitions and flip boards underfoot, at first in a stationary freestyle way, and later while maintaining respectable speeds. Possessed of a tribal instinct forged in the flamey fires of societal rejection, skateboarders identified themselves with lopsided haircuts, freeform denim and flat-soled suede sneakers, snarling at pretenders trying to cop the look without paying dues in parking-lot hours and spilled blood.
Does the poseur, which once jockeyed with jocks and security guards for archvillain status, conceptually survive in this brave year of the rooster, 2017? Fattened on mall money and transfixed by sly winks from extreme-intrigued ingenues, collective guards have fallen away. Advice on appropriating skate stylings have become common enough that Jake Phelp’s occasional grouchy grumping over Thrasher tee-sporting celebrities is seen as increasingly quaint.
Now comes Lil Wayne, née Dwayne Carter, Cash Money Records’ Danny Way, an industry-reared wonder boy possessed of once-in-a-generation talents, later estranged from early benefactors and in later years, outpaced by onetime proteges. In his post-platinum era wanderings, which also has included guitar solos and bowling, Lil Wayne picked up skateboarding, following earlier lines drawn by Pharrell ‘Skateboard P’ Williams and Lupe Fiasco. Eagerly written off after publicly declaring his dedication, Lil Wayne somehow stuck with it, living down ill-considered proclamations of prowess and conceiving the obligatory terrible clothes company. Along the way the ‘A Milli’ author earned love from actual skateboarders the old-fashioned way*:
Conor Champion: “He’s a little kid that just started skating in a grown millionaire’s body. Out of everything he could be doing with his free time, he’s choosing to be at the skatepark with us at three in the morning. You have to realize he could be doing literally anything in the world at that moment.”
Now, as far as wiling away hours at the park as a barometer of love for skating, many 10-year-olds measure up. Investing more than half a decade and then shaking off a droughty croak to muse for an hour over truck heights, the tradeoffs of filming in parks, getting kicked out of parks, lighting up spots with Iphones and hanging out behind restaurants to skate a bank-to-wall at 4:00 in the morning — that’s a horse of a different color, unsaddled by celebrity dilettantes and fair-weather penny cruiser pilots outfitted by 401(k)-toting stylists loathe to shovel the manure of bailed kickflips and gashed faces. With a profane pithiness suited to the penman responsible for one of rap music’s greatest verses, Lil Wayne justified himself last month on Chris Roberts’ ‘Nine Club’ podcast:
Lil Wayne: “I hate to use the word perfect but I’m the perfect guy to explain it. I’ve experienced a lot of great fuckin feelings. I’ve seen checks with a lot of zeroes on them bitches, with my name. I’ve experienced a lot of wonderful… moments with women. I’m talking about fucking her while her movie’s on in the background. With your music on the radio. I’ve opened a lot of great doors, I’ve seen a bunch of smiles on a bunch of faces…. I swear I don’t know if there’s a feeling that comes close to landing on them four wheels.”
Will Baby try and put the kibosh on Lil Wayne releasing a video part while still under a CMB contract? Does employing a housekeeper for one’s private skatepark and also a co-located bowling alley qualify Lil Wayne as ‘upriver’ on Jason Dill’s famed skate-scale or does it require a different benchmark altogether, like maybe the Russian deeps of Lake Baikal? Was all of this foretold after Ty Evans placed Mannie Fresh music into ‘Fully Flared’ for Lucas Puig, JB Gillet and JJ Rousseau, a music supervision masterstroke that may also have absolved Ty Evans of any number of indie-rock missteps over the years?
*Not like that, you pervert