Lead image via Nike's "Trust Fall"
Cannabis and skateboarding are like peanut-butter and jelly; they’re both great on their own, but even better together. In our column The Ganja Grind, we’ll take you into the fold of what to look out for in the world of skateboarding. From interviews with our favorite pros and compilations of social media hijinks, to video reviews and sneaker releases, this series will get your week rolling.
Outside of pornography, few aspects of culture have been as irrevocably changed by the democratization of video content than skateboarding. An amalgamation of commercial branding, sophomoric debauchery, and artistic cinematography, skate videos have always shifted with the times. We’ve seen them evolve from VHS camcorder footage, to blockbuster DVD releases, to iTunes exclusives, and finally as free-for-all YouTube and social media uploads.
With no shortage of skilled skaters around the globe, and camera phones putting HD in the pockets of the masses, the digital video revolution has pushed skateboarding to previously uncharted progress, and resulted in more content than any one skater could possibly keep up with.
But in addition to throwaway bangers on legendary handrails, local videos gaining global recognition, and big brand releases hitting the internet for free, skateboarding’s prolific video output has also come with its fair share of fast forward-worthy parts, YouTube pros, and skatepark montages soundtracked by Soundcloud rap. With all that content, it can be hard to know what’s actually worth watching and what can go straight to the skip bin.
Thankfully, we’re here to help you wade through the skate swamp and guide you through the most noteworthy videos from the first half of the year. So kick back, roll up your favorite strain, crank up the air conditioning, and escape the summer sun with our favorite releases thus far.
Best Regional Video by a Major Board Company: DGK’s “Thoro”
In the bygone era of VHS and DVD skate video releases, board and shoe brands released full-length videos like Hollywood’s summer blockbusters. Every major production took at least a year to make, often involving whole team trips to skate destinations around the globe, cinematic experimentation, and the occasional celebrity cameo. These days, though, those bells and whistles are largely reserved for the deep-pocketed sportswear brands, as core skate companies return to a more localized focus and release tour-specific web clips that give underrepresented rippers a space to shine.
So far this year, the Crailtap crew has ruled the regional landscape, with seperate squadrons of the Girl and Lakai teams (both owned by Crailtap) exploring the Pacific Northwest, Puerto Rico, and Melbourne. But when it comes to bigger brands bro-ing down on a local level, DGK’s celebration of all things East Coast, “Thoro,” takes the cake.
Filmed mostly in the streets and concrete plazas of Philadelphia and New York City, “Thoro” features stand-out parts from NYC transplant John Shanahan and Brotherly Love locals, Jahmir Brown and Kevin Bilyeu. In between stellar ledge work, switch mastery, and size 42 waistbands (baggy is back, baby), “Thoro” filmer Brian Pannebianco lets us behind the curtain of Philly’s downtown scene. He makes the half-hour video feel more like a sixth installment of his heralded “Sabotage” video series, rather than a major brand production. If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing the bitter cold or sticky heat of the East Coast, “Thoro” will take you on the trip up I-95 you’ve been missing.
Best Locals-Only Video: Skate Jawn’s “Fiddy”
A wider perspective on skateboarding’s tight nit local mentality, Skate Jawn’s “Fiddy” focuses more on filmers than individual skaters, with videographers from cities across the country each given their own section to showcase a specific city and crew — from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, and everywhere in between.
Released alongside the 50th issue of Skate Jawn’s bi-monthly zine, “Fiddy” is the logical end point of skateboarding’s professional paradigm shift, giving viewers amazing skating from every corner of the US with the same local feel of a shop video. Standout parts include Austin Lelu’s exploration of hills and hips in LA, as well as tech-gnar flexes from Richmond, Virginia’s heavily tattooed Bust Crew.
Best Sportswear Superstar Video: Nike’s “Trust Fall”
On the other end of the global vs. local skate spectrum, you’ll find America’s major sportswear brands: Nike, Adidas, New Balance, and Converse. With unlimited budgets, team rosters the size of phone books, and access to the same cameras they use on Hollywood sets, these videos are essentially the Marvel movies of the skate world. When it comes to heavy hitters, most skaters these days are saving their favorite tricks for their shoe sponsor, and most of the year’s biggest videos come from brands so big the also have baseball departments. And so far this year, Nike’s work has stood out the most, with the summer banger “Trust Fall” stuck on replay for the past two weeks.
While “Trust Fall” may have hit the world wide web after the year’s official halfway mark, we couldn’t keep it off our list. Featuring mind-melting parts from SoCal rippers Blake Carpenter and Donovan Piscopo and New York City powerhouse Cyrus Bennet, “Trust Fall” is the perfect blend of brute force and finesse. Alongside household names like Sean Malto, and underground favorites Andrew Wilson and Nik Stain, Nike’s latest offering (with just a 23-minute run time!) is another scoop of proof that the skate industry’s biggest brands are here to stay, whether you like it or not.
Best Solo Part: Max Geronzi’s “Back to the ‘80s”
It seems like every week, Thrasher uploads a new solo video part from yet another pro skater, inundating viewers with countless flip-in, flip-out ledge tricks, unreal handrail maneuvers, and death defying gaps. But with so much saturation, it’s hard for any one solo part to actually make waves.
Luckily, Max Geronzi doesn’t suffer from that Waldo dilemma, and has no problem standing out from the crowd. A global traveler, Geronzi has spent the last few years nomadically traversing the European continent and destroying every skate spot in his path. For his latest full part, though, Gronz ditched the classic popsicle skateboard and took his skating back to the ‘80s, with the entire part filmed on a wide, flat, shaped board from street skating’s salad days.
Don’t let the hardware fool you, though, Geronzi is still plenty capable of grinding rails, flipping out of 5-0’s, and crushing banks, no matter what his board looks like. Geronzi’s trick selection, speed, and creativity is a treat to watch, and sometimes that’s more engaging than another set of style-free hammers, no matter what famous rail they were done on.
Strictly for Socials: Tyshawn Jones and Trashcans
There’s not much that hasn’t already been said about Tyshawn Jones’ skating. The Bronx Bomber, and reigning Thrasher Skater of the Year, has kept his foot on the industry’s neck since taking home the coveted trophy. He debuted his very own signature Adidas shoe, clocked footage in “Illegal Civilization 3,” and has kept Instagram on its toes with unparalleled flatground mastery.
You may remember TJ’s sanitation skills from last year’s “Killer” video part, and in a recently-posted Instagram clip announcing a new pair of shorts from his brand Hardies Hardware, Tyshawn executed another garbage strike. This time, though, he backside flipped over an upright trash can on the empty playground at Manhattan’s TF West. Set to DMX, towed in by a dirt bike, and featuring both a bird’s eye view and follow film angle, the 15-second clip is everything that makes summer in New York City great. Full scale videos with years of lead time may be the tried-and-true way to boost your brand, but when Tyshawn’s around, all it takes to turn the skate world upside down is a blacktop and a can.
For more advice on what to check out in the skate world, keep your eyes peeled for new editions of Ganja Grind, and check back in with us when winter comes for our favorite skate videos from the second half of the year.
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