A bit of a preface: After a long, detailed chronicle of Lil’ Wayne’s skateboarding pursuits throughout 2012, we vowed to ease off coverage at the start of this year. We never took the protective, “OMG this is what’s wrong with skateboarding!”-outlook like many other sources for skateboard commentary. We merely observed just how insane it was that a thirty-year-old guy who happens to be one of the biggest pop stars on earth, decided to take up skateboarding and got better at skating transition than a good 40% of the Quartersnacks Office. If the guy wants to skate, let him skate — it’s not like he’s pushing past the security window at some midtown spot with fifteen kids and getting everyone else kicked out. He wasn’t bothering us. We eventually lost interest, as is the case with most 30-year-old rappers doing odd things long enough for their novelty to wear off.
Anyone who has spent time reading QS knows it’s really a rap site. New rap, old rap, underground rap, radio rap, country rap tunes, shiny suit rap, strip club rap — we love it all. Not an editorial decision goes on here without rap somehow being figured into the equation. “What would Jeezy do?”
After a summer of seeing Connor Champion’s Instagram posts, which landed him in a different city every two days, we learned that he, Kyle Berard and a few others, were on tour with Lil’ Wayne, skating on stage amidst the most seizure-inducing lighting technology imaginable. We finally had an inside source that could discuss what being on a rap tour with one of the most recognizable rappers alive was like, and he just so happened to skateboard on it.
How did you get hit up to go on a Lil’ Wayne tour?
I’ve known Ryan Clements since I was a kid. He used to work for Skatepark of Tampa, and Lil’ Wayne’s people hired him to staff the skating part of his tour. Ryan knew I was a big Wayne fan, so he called and asked, “Do you want to go on tour with Lil’ Wayne for two months and skate on stage?” Before he said anything else, I just went “Yeah.” They didn’t tell Ryan any specific details, so I didn’t know what to expect.
Who else was on the tour?
It was me, Kyle Berard, Jeremy Knibbs, this kid Yo-Yo who rides for TrukFit, and Wayne’s little cousin, Dante. I’ve known Kyle since I was young, and all the other dudes were sick. I couldn’t ask for a better mix.
What was the first day like?
I flew from Atlanta to Birmingham, Alabama the day after they called me. We just showed up to soundcheck on the first day and saw two small quarter pipes, one large quarter pipe, and two small handrails. They were just like, “See what you can do.” At first, there was a routine where we would all go after each other. But when Wayne got on stage, he stopped the music once he saw what was going on and said, “Fuck that routine shit, just skate.” It turned more into a jam session for each show.
Did you have to try hard tricks or anything specific?
Just tricks we knew how to do. After the first show, we started having little side bets with each other about who could do the best trick. It got easier as it progressed, after a few shows we got used to it and were just skating. I did get bodied a couple times in front of a few thousand people. I was doing backside bonelesses on the larger quarterpipe, and a few times the lights onstage were going crazy so I completely missed the quarter pipe on the way down. Kyle would do lein to tails and the crowd would go wild. They were just hyped when people landed tricks, not when they busted their ass, which is honestly not what I thought would happen.
What was an average day on the tour?
That dude has people on a nocturnal schedule. We’d wake up at three or four in the afternoon, go to the show, eat there, warm up, do the show, hang out for a little while after, and wait to see if Wayne wanted to skate that night. If he did, we’d go to the skatepark and skate until like seven in the morning. We were staying up until nine or ten after that. On the days off, we were on the bus driving to the next city.
What was the bus like?
We were on the Young Money bus with Mack Maine and Gudda Gudda. It was like a full tour bus with twelve bunks, Mack had a room in the back, and there was a common area for everyone. There were supposed to be other rappers on the trip, but Wayne replaced the rappers with us. I’ve been listing to Sqad Up mix tapes since I was a little kid, so it was surreal to be on a bus with those dudes and for them to be cool with all of us. They’re down to earth and hospitable about having a bunch of random skateboarders on their bus for two months.
What’s the craziest thing you saw on the trip?
Seeing girls do things to be around certain people was something that I’ve never seen before. Their whole world is something else. But on some little kid shit, the craziest thing was just Birdman coming onto our bus with a million dollars worth of jewelry on and rolling dice with Gudda and Mack.
Everyone who skates has has an opinion on Wayne taking up skateboarding. What impression did you get from him skating based on those two months?
I was a huge fan of Wayne before the skating, so I’m biased. I had his back prior to this trip. But skating with him changed my perspective even more. When you see Wayne stand on a skateboard, you can tell he genuinely loves it. He’s a little kid that just started skating in a grown millionaire’s body.
Out of everything he could be doing with his free time, he’s choosing to be at the skatepark with us at three in the morning. You have to realize he could be doing literally anything in the world at that moment. I’ve seen people move mountains for that dude. It’s not like, “I gotta go practice skating so I look legit” or whatever people may think. We were on the studio bus with him on the way to a park, and he would be in full creative mode, in the middle of making a song for the mixtape that just came out. As soon as we pull up, he’d stop and say, “Aight, let’s go.” Granted, we skate differently, but he would be skating longer than any of us. We’d be dead, covered in sweat at 7 A.M, and he’d just be laughing at us.
I’ve seen so many non-skaters come into the industry, use it and throw it away. I fully understand how other skateboarders might think it’s a gimmick or that he’s using skating, but coming from someone who has skated for a long time and has been around him for a while, trust me, he’s not using it for that. If you’re bummed on that dude, you’re bummed on someone who genuinely likes skateboarding and that’s weird.
We’ll finish this off with a topical re-edit to the best Lil’ Wayne single in probably half a decade. Ideally, this should have been edited to the best UGK song that’s not a UGK song, but it came off a lot better in mind than in the editing room. Jeff Lenoce won the country rap tune Lil’ Wayne part contest four years ago anyway….
Alternate YouTube link. Have a good weekend.