Way back in 2018, a rainbow-haired man adorned in face art ruled the land. His sermons could be heard blasting from car speakers all throughout New York. His visage was unavoidable on our phone screens. Some devotees even painted a ten-stair set in Bushwick with the spectrum of his colorful head as a tribute. According to a QS commenter, those stairs were two blocks from his childhood home. His name was Tekashi 6ix9ne.
At the same time, these stairs were undergoing a renaissance in another culture: skateboarding. They had first been seen in Jake Johnson’s Mind Field part — he ollied above them and 5050ed their accompanying handrail. The spot otherwise sat in relative obscurity until the end of the last decade.
There is a lot to be said about being in the right place at the right time. The 2010s were a tough economy for Brand Name™ ten sets — visiting pros weren’t exactly traveling out to Bayside Ten anymore. But this particular set became a fixture of many New York travelogues.
Illustration by Michael Gigliotti
Nobody wants to call something “the ten with the curb in front that Jake Johnson 5050’d eleven years ago.” Those spots pique our interest for a couple weeks. We get tired of their names not rolling off our tongues, and forget about them.
But the timing was right: the stairs absorbed the stereo screams of Tekashi’s name, and are now woven into the fabric of the city’s skateboard life.
However, we are also living in high time of the demagogue. Mr. 9ine would fall even quicker than he rose, in tragic fashion at that. His cooperation with law enforcement after his arrest would earn him a reputation for shameful honesty in the face of our society’s closest held secrets.
It is ironic how tributes have a way of grossly outliving the things they were meant to pay tribute to in the first place. The south is still covered in confederate monuments. The best skate spot on the planet is still named after the second-most reviled dictator of the 20th century. I’ll bet that none of you know why you mispronounce “Houston” Street ten times a day. These ten stairs have endured under pressure like their namesake never did. He’s named after them now.
Mr. 9ine’s testimony didn’t lie — the set is big. Something about having a curb in front of a ten really amps up the fact that people skate up to it as fast as they can. A close colleague was recently emboldened to visit the Tekashi Ten as the last stop on an early February skate day. After a quick bout of psychological warfare with the curb up top and the drop ahead, he conceded: “This is like the Carlsbad Gap.” Not sure if he has ever been to Carlsbad, but the hyperbole was noted. Carlsbad didn’t have a curb up top, to be fair.
It’s maybe the only ten down which you’ve seen a nollie frontside 180 pop up in a Thrasher edit. A nollie flip is just insane. Observe the loft of the front heel. There’s a rumored Mason Silva trick here that seems, um, complicated. Bearing witness to Corey Glick’s frontside half cab flip last week, the same Carlsbad-equating colleague observed, “That’s something you can only do when you’ve clearly been skating every day for three weeks.” (The “Toronto to Philly” timeline ballparks Glick’s visit here around week #3 of his journey.)
Our eyes have a habit of glazing over when presented with “only” a stair clip in 2020. Do not be afraid to stare into the prism of the Tekashi Ten, and acknowledge the accomplishments of those who have travelled down it.