We’ve been mulling about a series like this for some time now. In an age of Chrome Ball interviews and Epicly Later’ds, its tough to interview guys who have been around for a while without treading the same territory their last interview did. And the younger guys who aren’t entrenched in some sort of controversy are oftentimes not very talkative. In hopes of changing the pace, this idea is essentially a blend of Rotten Tomatoes’ “Five Favorite Films” series, and the introductions for Thrasher’s “Classics” series, except with the nerd-factor ramped up few levels. Think of it as a video-centric version of the Chrome Ball guest posts. The “interview” is quite simple: “What are your five favorite video parts and why?” We’ll see what it turns into down the line, and would appreciate any feedback you guys may have.
The first installment comes from an east coast guy who has always been open about his influences. Here is former Toy Machine and Infamous Skateboards rider, and founder of Hopps Skateboards, Jahmal Williams, with his five favorite video parts. (Listed chronologically, not in any particular order of favoritism.)
All words from here on in are Jahmal’s.
Matt Hensley — H-Street: Shackle Me Not (1988)
When Shackle Me Not came out, it was huge because videos weren’t released often. That was one we had heard about a lot through word of mouth because of how crazy it was. H-Street was still new for us. We didn’t know too much about the names and faces involved with it. I remember the day it came into Beacon Hill Skateshop in Boston, where I used to hang out at after school every day. When I got home and watched Hensley’s part, it was amazing. He was doing all this crazy flatland. His board control and his street skating were brand new. People were already hyped on Matt Hensley back then, but when that video came out…he was the dude for a long time. Everyone was wearing cargo pants, chain wallets and had a shaved head trying to look like him. He was a street skater who skated everything. He’d skate transition but do street tricks. A lot of people sleep on his contributions to skating.
His part really stood out, but Shackle Me Not had other sick parts like Brennand Schoeffel, Brian Lotti…
Sean Sheffey — Life Skateboards: A Soldier’s Story (1991)
Life was a branch off of H-Street. Sheffey was one of my heroes because he was from the east coast, and his part in Soldier’s Story was amazing. No one skated with that much power and speed. You wouldn’t really see footage of a lot of guys back then, you would just see pictures. You’d see gnarly pictures of Sheffey in a Spitfire or Venture ad, or in a random Thrasher New York article because it was one of the few mags giving New York coverage back then. I remember finally seeing footage of him in Speed Freaks, which was Santa Cruz’s wheel company’s video. He had a little part in there with Natas, but to see him with a full street part was insane. It was technical skating with power. We didn’t really emphasize “style” as a word back then, we’d just be psyched on someone’s persona and the way they did stuff. Sheffey skated like a superhero. He was a legend based on all these stories you’d hear, and then he came out with this part to back the legend up.
Jovontae Turner — Planet Earth: Now ‘N Later (1991)
I think around that time, you would hear about tricks that these guys would do, but wouldn’t see them. Maybe there was a photo, but if a video did eventually come out, you’d understand what sort of board control a lot of them had. He was flawless, and had a lot of finesse on the board. The thing I always loved about people like Jovontae and Kareem is that they brought this element of fashion to their skating. I’m not sure who first did it, but I remember Jovontae would cut the ankles off his shoes, take stickers and tape them around the cuffs so they wouldn’t shred out. You’d see these dudes show up to a demo and they’d have fresh Starter hats on and all sorts of crazy gear. Everyone would get hyped on them because they looked so different, and would try to copy them.
Kareem Campbell — World Industries: New World Order (1993)
I don’t want to be corny and say he looked like an “athlete,” but he was the first skater I saw that looked like a basketball player — the way he dressed, the way he did tricks. That’s when tech skating was really evolving. He was going big and tech at the same time. All those manual combos he was doing were new to us. I don’t like using the terminology “hood,” but he really was one of the first cats that was hood. I was hood, but when I got into skating, I didn’t want any part of it. He was still kind of in it. When I first met him, I was in a van with the Toy Machine guys, and we just happened to bump into the Menace guys at a demo somewhere in the midwest, right when Meance was starting up. Kareem killed it, Fabian [Alomar] and Joey [Suriel] were there too. I just got to talking to him and he was telling me about his story. He was really one of those dudes I’d see hanging on the corner, but still into skating.
Guy Mariano — Girl: Mouse (1996)
[Ed. Note: I have a feeling that if this does in fact become a recurring segment on the site, this part is going to be on every single Top Five.]
The two parts to me that define street skating the most is Mark Gonzales’ part in Video Days and Guy’s part in Mouse, along with the New York section in Eastern Exposure. The music and Guy’s skating went perfect. Skating is abstract to me. That Herbie Hancock song was abstract too, and it blended perfectly. The first time we saw that part, we didn’t know what anything was. The tricks were so new and weird, that we had to watch it for months to be like “Oh, that trick is called a…”
Previously: Jahmal Williams — The Lost Tapes