NOW IN THEATERS! Skateboarding has always had a connection to the Hip Hop community. Though, for most of its history, skateboarding has been defined by long-haired boys from the Valley in California. In fact, you can’t even think of skating without images of Tony Hawk on a half-pipe ramp. But for young Black kids from the hood who couldn’t play basketball and weren’t in a gang, skateboarding was a refuge. It was one for me, as well as other poor kids who needed an alternative outlet beyond the rising hip hop underground music scene. Kids like me helped merge the two cultures into one.
All The Streets Are Silent: The Convergence of Hip Hop and Skateboarding, written and directed by Jeremy Elkins, gives us a look at the gritty skateboard scene that took off in the streets of Manhattan in the late 1980s/early 90s and how a bunch of street kids changed New York forever. Alongside the emerging skateboard scene, hip hop was cementing itself as the “new punk,” and naturally, kids who were already part of the counterculture were drawn to the rawness and realness of the music.
“…a look at the gritty skateboard scene that took off…[as] hip hop was cementing itself as the ‘new punk’…”
At that moment, hip hop was going through an awakening. Though the rest of the world knew some of the bigger names like Run D.M.C., The Beastie Boys, and (maybe) Salt-N-Pepa, for the most part, especially in “White America,” Rap was still treated as an underground thing for minority kids. This held true even in New York, which is considered the birthplace of hip hop. In fact, nightclubs in N.Y.C. wouldn’t even play rap music because it was considered “angry music” for hoodlums and undesirables. But thanks to pioneer deejay Yuki Watanabe’s opening of Club Mars, the first unofficial Hip Hop club anywhere, the music and culture grew and flourished in the club scene.
But what made Club Mars really special were the big names that either got their start there or made their way there at some point. Names like Ice Cube, Black Sheep, Big Daddy Kane, Funk Master Flex, and even Hollywood heavyweights like Vin Diesel and Ben Stiller were regulars. It brought together not only rap fans, but it was a haven for everybody on the outskirts of the mainstream.
"…skateboarding has always had a connection to the Hip Hop community."