I can not and will not ever forget my childhood in the mid eighties. I was your typical 75 pound skate-rat that you would most likely find in the back of class drawing anarchy signs on the school desk. Back in that time all I cared about was music and skateboarding. As long as I had batteries in my Walkman and a board under my feet, I was good. I was about 11 or 12 when I really got my first dose of hardcore music. I befriended a young kid by the name of JT and I ended up skating with him through the mid eighties an early nineties. JT was one of the first kids I ever saw with a record player and records. At the time NYHC was at its peak and that’s when I really got my first taste of record shopping. I would go with JT to Bleeker Bobs in NYC and pick up 7 inch vinyl pressings of all the newest hardcore out at the time. I instantly fell in love with the music an it became the sound track for my rebelious lifestyle. JT also played bass in a local neighborhood straight edge band named Sucker Punch. Sucker Punch was one of the first major influences that made me want to write and perform music. I watched Sucker Punch compose songs in JT’s garage only to later go on performing them at live shows in the northern NJ vicinity. One of the members and old friend of mine “Alop” went on years later to become a member of the well known experimental hip hop group Dälek . Hit the link and check them out if your into cutting edge live experimental rap.
During the late 80s I went to a lot of hardcore shows in New Jersey and NYC. My juvenile tactics had me sneaking into shows every where from the Pipeline in Newark to CBGB’s in Manhattan. The energy at these shows was unreal. The NYC/NJ mosh style was brutal. Even as a skinny kid barely in my teens I still jumped in pits only to come home with bruises proving my love for the hardcore culture. DMS was running the NYHC scene back then. Bands like Madball, Agnostic Front, Biohazard, Murphys Law, Sick of it All etc, all had ties with the infamous DMS (Doc Martin Skinheads). I remember DMS cats making other skins literally take their shirts off in order to check tattoos for any white power affiliation. If you were caught slipping on that racist tip you got dealt with right there on the spot. Seeing multiple pairs of steel toe boots stomping a head into the ground was not a pretty site. This was a time when the lower east side of NYC was a pretty rough neighborhood to be in. DMS always had and still has a well known reputation on the streets of New York. Im sure if you ask anyone who witnessed that era of hardcore music they will agree that the music scene on the lower east side of Manhattan could not be explained by words, video or photos. You had to be there live in the flesh to really understand the energy and unity among the crowd and bands performing.
In that time growing up, I was going through a lot of emotional struggle and drama stemming from the situation my family was placed in. Hardcore music was definitely one form of therapy to realease my tension. Hearing the music blaring while swinging my arms and stomping my feet could make any sort of daily stress vanish in seconds. This is what a lot of the youth were using to escape the bitter reality life offered. If we weren’t on a fearless mission to skate and shred the concrete, than we were on a optimistic hunt for music that helped us alleviate the rage that overwelms most juveniles caught in a struggle. During the mid ninetys I slowly faded off the hardcore scene and started to get involved with the hip hop culture that would later become a “golden era” in years to come. Being a well rounded music connoisseur I can not avoid the fact that hardcore music always has and still holds a peice of my heart. I am grateful to have witnessed that piece of NYC music history. Lately Ive been going back to all my old tapes in order to find MP3 downloads of all of the bands I grew to love. I recently reconnected with some of my DMS homies and old friends from the scene back then. They are putting me up to speed with some modern hardcore bands that still keep the unity and spirit alive. I have to end this by saying peace to DMS and the whole NYHC, NJHC movement. The emotion, energy and unity portrayed in hardcore music will never be forgot
My life and times with German Nieves
So back in like 1994-95, (man I dread saying shit like that) was my peak in skateboarding and shit was popping in NJ/NYC for skateboarding. My boy Tim O’connor and crew used to take weekend trips to Newburgh skate park in Newburgh NY. That was the park to be at considering that was one of the only skate parks in the NJ/NYC area at the time. Anyway, because of my frequent visits to Newburgh I would very often see familiar faces. Their was always this little Puerto Rican kid in a Yankees fitted cap skating with a little Asian kid around the same height. The Puerto Rock was German Nieves and the Asian kid was his close friend Andy Bautista. Off the bat I can say these cats were nice on a board. The one thing that stood out was their effortless style an finesse when executing tricks. We got acquainted and exchanged numbers and from then on we grew close an skated NYC. It worked out because the town they lived in was about 15 minutes from me and 15 minutes to NYC so the access to skate worked out well. German and I became close friends and usually spent the night at each others crib and skated NYC during the day.
One day that I can never forget was a specific session at the Brooklyn Banks where we peeped photographers and filmers for Big Brother magazine but thought nothing of it. Big Brother was probably one of the illest and rawest uncut skate mags of all time. The magazine eventually went out of print and the staff went on to create the JACKASS show and movie that your all probably very familiar with. Skate paparazi were always lingering at the Banks so it was whatever. That day I felt on point because I had just hooked up a Brooklyn Boards Aaron Suski prototype model and the pop and feel of that deck was incredible. Brooklyn Boards was my sponsor at the time however that company’s life span was shorter than the time it took Mike Tyson to knock out Peter McNeeley. Mike Tyson was the fucking man! So anyway with in about 5 tries of fucking around I stuck a perfect front side 180 nollie heal flip over the Banks wall. I myself couldnt believe it but yes I landed it an very smooth I must add. *boosts his ego* Rick Kosick photographer from Big Brother or nowadays you might know him as a lead producer for JACKASS (like I care) asked if he could film me doing the trick again. I came close but no cigar so he told me to come back tomorrow and try again. I was living in Hoboken at the time so German spent the night an we hopped on the PATH and headed back to the banks the next morning. We were greeted again by Rick and the session began. I don’t know if it was the dirt weed I smoked the night before or the slight hangover from Old English but I was not on point. I never stuck the trick however my man German (over the wall) busted one of the smoothest kick flips I have yet to witness. He stuck it perfect. Rick caught it on film an transferred it into a sequence photo that made the Big Brother issue with the article on NYC skateboarding.
Besides numerous skate sessions in NYC, German and I often threw on our chill kicks and did what any other 16 year olds did at that time. We drank 40′s, smoked trees, kicked freestyle raps and chased girls. No greedy shit here son, we even shared pussy. Numerous nights of partying at Fordham University in NYC led to us waking up on the floor with chicks that got passed around like Chi Ali’s 40 when his mother wasn’t looking.
Its good to know after 18 years of history I still fuck with German. Even in our 30′s we still crack on these crab ass cats, still holla at fly ladies, still skate and still fuck with whats left of this rap shit. German still has his foot in the skate and fashion industry. He currently does brand marketing and is the team manager for the 10DEEP clothing skateboard team. If you ever get a chance to meet German you will know why I been down with dude for almost 20 years. His charismatic humor and personality will have you intrigued.
Much respect to my homeboy German Nieves.
My life and times with Quim Cardona
In my early years skating I grew to befriend a unique profesional skateboarder and artist, Quim Cardona. I actually met Quim and his brother Mike (Rest in Power) in the late 80′s skating jump ramps at a house at the Jersey shore way back but it wasnt untill the 90′s when the Cardona brothers and I really started chilling and skating NYC. Quim was always a spontaneous and open minded cat and a natural wizard on a skateboard. I can recall many times after skate sessions we would head back to Quims crib an record endless amounts of freestyles and songs. Quim actually guided me alot with how to rhyme with cadence and how to do adlibs using a dual cassette deck rig. This cat could make a sick ass beat from using home made sounds, a tape deck and a little cheap keyboard. At the time his production process was beyond my comprehension. His brother Mike Cardona was also an amazing artist and skater and just an all around cool dude to be around. He will forever be missed and never forgoten. Rest in Piece Mike. It wasnt untill earlier this year that a mutual friend reconnected me with Quim from almost 10 years of not being in contact. He invited me to Garden Sk8 Park to perform at his Fusion Fest art show display and I had a great time being part of the show. Quim has his hand in a little bit of everything nowadays, from skating, art and music to events like natural hair exhibits that he has been throwing as of lately. Im gratefull that I reconnected with Quim and with out a dout you will hear a Nic Mercer, Quim Cardona collaboration in the near future. We might even leak some freestyles from back in the day when we were 16 with super high pitched voices haha, ok mabye not. If you havent already done so check out Quim Cardona and see why I consider him a big influence. http://quimtime.com/
The NYC Skateboarding and Hip Hop Merge
(This was written a couple years before the BK banks were closed off due to a reconstruction on the Brooklyn Bridge.)
There was once an era in time that today we refer to as, “the 90’s.” I’d like to start by saying, some of you youngsters probably will never fully understand what these years meant to the Tristate area unless you are 25 and over. That era is the time in my life that meant the most to me, and pretty much made me who I am today. Being a skater for 20 years, as well as a Hip-hop junkie, definitely brought forth my outgoing personality and made me look at the world through a creative lens.
First, let’s take it back to the Brooklyn banks, which are located under the Brooklyn Bridge on the Manhattan side of NYC. For all those who don’t know, that was always the Mecca of skateboarding in the Tri-state area. I’m sure everyone and their little cousin might know the place nowadays, but before all the legal skate obstacles, there was just, “The Banks”. The smell of bum piss, the whiff of chocolate and skunk filled blunts, and the sound of the hungry youth pushing the limits of physical ability in order to express themselves on a piece of wood with urethane wheels. It all sounded like an empty stomach: churning, yearning for a scrap.
In those days I was sponsored by a local company called Brooklyn Boards, however, it went under quicker than a dirty gun tossed into the East River. Anyway, the 1992 to 1998 time frame is what some cats might call the illest era of NYC Hip-hop. Right around the time Rodney and Eli were bringing the company Zoo York to the forefront, amazing things were taking place in the city. Hip-hop was in its rawest form as far as lyrics and production. The dress code was grimy, and the beats were nervously fitting perfect with the attitude of the soon to be-Giuliani streets of New York. Around that time, skateboarding was going through a revolution as far as new tricks, and Hip-hop pretty much followed as far as a new stream of intense lyricism that made up most of the classics we all know today.
Graffiti art on the streets was also at its peak due to the decline of subway art in the late 80’s. I can clearly remember riding the 7 train to skate Flushing Meadow Park while listening to Mobb Deep’s song, “Temperature’s Rising” in my walkman. Something about being Phillie blunted off that skunk and seeing all the new tags and throw-ups on the rooftops clearly still puts me in a state of ecstasy without the fucking raves. I know most of you 90’s club heads never forgot about club Shelter where they had the NASA parties or the old church that gave birth to the Limelight. For heaven’s sake, do us a favor and please forget! Anyway, as far as marketing was concerned, Hip-hop was not integrated with skateboard culture at all. However, as far as the streets were concerned, the two were riding parallel on separate tracks, yet heading to the same destination.
I can clearly remember the Supreme store in its early years throwing a party where the group Artifacts performed one of their new singles. At that same party I saw Biggie Smalls in the crowd with Junior Mafia, as well as Rosie Perez, and members of Brooklyn’s own Boot Camp Click. I mean, to see Biggie in the crowd at a Supreme party while Artifacts performed almost seemed normal at that time, but now that I think back, those moments were priceless. I’m sure while most rappers at the time were recording their classic material at D&D studios they probably had no clue or could care less about Harold Hunters backside 180 heel flip over the Brooklyn banks wall. Another priceless moment I lived to witness. My point is, that at the same time skateboarding was going through its golden revolution, hip-hop was right by its side sending chills through the Tri-state.
The illest skateboard companies were the ones that came out of the World Industries camp and of course our home team, Zoo York, which at the time only had riders that were from the Tri-state, unlike the team today (no disrespect). The tricks were evolving into a lot more combinations, and that also brought the evolution of skating switch stance. On the other side of things we had Stretch Arm Strong on the radio, DJ Premier and RZA on the beats, and nothing but NYC artists blasting out the tapes in our walkman. That’s right, not an IPod, a fucking walkman! I know you older cats remember the cheap versions in which you had to flip the tape over and fast-forward in order to rewind.
So, let’s now jump back to today’s times where constant talk about “bringing it back” echoes throughout the city. Maybe now you understand why seeing an out of town rapper wearing a Supreme shirt and rocking a packed show in NYC is fucking crazy to me! Meanwhile, a lot of NYC rappers are now losing identity by working with producers that show no essence in the sound our home team created. Not to mention the new slew of underground rappers that set the bar for lyrics so low that we might as well let everyone get some. The last thing I want to sound like is another old grumpy hater because I love what the skateboard and Hip-hop culture has grown to. I mean, the banks now have a skate park, as well as organized events and activities for the youth. Skateboarding in the city has never been bigger, however, most of the so called good NYC skaters are transplants from other states, with the exception of some older NYC rippers such as Rodney Torres, Aaron Suski and Danny Supa, just to name a few.
As far as Hip-hop, well I guess it’s ok to be from any culture or creed, or from any part of the world, and still fit into the Mecca where Hip-hop was created. I’m sure the forefathers of the culture are happy to see the art form has grown worldwide. I mean, just being from Jersey I had to put up with a lot of shit, so to see a kid from fucking Colorado skate the banks while trying to hand out his multi-syllable underground rap CD still seems to amaze me! Welcome to the new era I guess. Hard rocks are now rocking skateboard apparel, while it’s considered ok to make Hip-hop songs talking about drinking kegs at a college party. How backwards can shit get? I definitely won’t hate, but from seeing what I’ve seen, I also sometimes can’t relate. It’s all good because I will always love skateboarding and Hip-hop, and I hope they both grow even bigger than they are now.
Is still not the word to play.
P.S. Most rappers could care less about skateboarding, but yet they bite our styles all day… you got to love it.