Street Memo - Discovering The Truth
Skateboarding was “punk” , it was edgy, your parents didn’t like it, nobody “normal” liked it. You got pushed down stairs in a trash can for being a “skater.” Being a skateboarder meant being far from popular. You couldn’t wait for school to get out to skateboard, an escape from the constant attacks for just identifying as a skateboarder.
Our soundtrack came from VHS tapes you would watch after school and would bounce back and forth from 3 chord punk and Hieroglyphics esque hip hop. From 411 video magazine to bootleg versions of Fulfill The Dream & The Chocolate Tour these were a gateway to a world of music and culture.
Then something changed, it almost felt overnight. The “normal” and “popular” all of a sudden took a liking to “Our Soundtrack.” Gone were the days of being disliked or “edgy.” Beginning a new era of popular girls smiling at you with Blink 182 blaring from their headphones of a non-skip CD player...
Then... There was this photo:
After you saw this photo you realized that we really had a Puff Daddy or Biggie Smalls in our culture. The edginess that came with skateboarding was back, but it wasn’t like it used to be. His unapologetic “gangsta” along with a comprehensive understanding of “core” skateboard values led to a guy named Stevie Williams to truly change the “game.”
There was something about how Stevie took the “hip hop” skate style and made it believable. When you saw Stevie do a nollie frontside heelflip, you knew that he was the truth. The truth became evident in a Transworld video called “The Reason.”
The video began with a look into Philly skater lifestyle and a creative intro from Scratch of The Roots performing a custom beatbox for the vibe at the infamous Love Park. An almost candid look into Stevie’s life, while still maintaining a structure of a well-respected video part. You could tell his consistency was unmatched, he was the king of the concrete jungle, Love Park.
Then... Came the shoe:
Immediately you could tell these were radical, and not the mid 80’s Southern Cali surfer type of radical, these we’re just like Stevie, consistent, exciting and unapologetically “gangsta.” You couldn’t wait to get these shoes and get to the nearest urban marble surface and switch heelflip. Or even better get an over knee high switch pop shuv-it right into a gully switch mongo push. The shoe was a chance to feel apart of this rough rider skateboarder movement and pop a heelflip manny.
Then... After much anticipation, came this video:
This was the climactic moment, when you heard the “YO!” from Beanie Siegel you knew that this was what we had been waiting for, our Puffy, our Biggie, and his big hit. You knew that the iconic status of Stevie Williams was truly here. You almost felt a sense of second-hand accomplishment or achievement as if, “we made it!”
He did the unthinkable, at a time where an “innovative” flatground trick was unheard of, he did it, and in the most thugged out way possible. In an age of huge handrails and massive gaps you were blown away by a flatground trick in the middle of a ledge line at a plaza. The most triumphant move, making something out of nothing.
The icon known as Stevie Williams had now become one cohesive package, the unapologetic “gangsta” , the “core” skate culture respect and the shoes to match. Despite all adversity, the vision had become reality, the gully, switch mongo, innovative vision with a dash of admirable confident self nut-grab swagger. You and the generation after yours wanted to emulate the larger than life icon that was “Stevie Williams.”
Then, in what felt like overnight, skateboarding was caught with a plague of what seemed like a storm of angst, against our new audacious thuggery. Through stories of “board-feel” , mid 2000’s video parts set to 35 + year old music, and the vulcanization of every shoe under the sun, it seemed as if the dream had died.
That was until now...
This is a Street Memo with the opinions of Stephen Serrano.
Words by @stephenserrano