Intro & Interview by Adam Abada
Photos by Mac Shafer
Gang Corp is an organically formed group of friends, born of their love for skating and curiosity for the world, and aided by social media — but not governed by it. Fort Greene native Naquan Rollings just released their second full-length video, Black Business, which is their best yet. We hit him up to try and get some insight into the ingredients and process behind Gang Corp doing what they do.
Where are you from, and how old are you?
I was born in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. I actually just moved — I live in East New York now. I’ve lived in Brooklyn my whole life. I turned 21 last September. I’m getting old super fast. I still feel like I’m 18.
When did you start skating?
That’s always a weird question that I can never really answer. I remember when I was around 10 years old, I had a board but didn’t take it seriously. If it wasn’t for my sister, I don’t know if I would’ve gotten into it. She’s 10 years older than me. When she was in school, she knew about Supreme and all that stuff. She kind of put me on, I guess you can say.
She always wanted a skateboard and my grandma ended up getting her one of those fake ones from Target. I would just ride around on it. I thought I was never gonna try all that trick shit, but I guess the more I was on it, the more I wanted to. I would start meeting people around Fort Greene who skated. I lived right across the street from the park, so anytime people came to skate it, I would hear it from my window, then would go outside and check it out.
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Photo by Alex Pires
Past generations of skateboarders outside the U.S. felt like they kept one eye on America, the unavoidable center of skateboarding’s media and industry, and another inward on their native scenes. British skateboarding, on the other hand, felt like it had to look three ways: towards America, around its European neighbors, and at itself, as a place that produced distinctly English skate videos that looked unlike anything else.
It is tempting to call Jacob Harris’ “Atlantic Drift” series on Thrasher the most beloved video franchise coming out of the U.K. today. Except the videos are less an insular sum of their influences, and more a global portrait of a particular brand of skateboarding, as seen through an English lens. It was no surprise that Jacob’s influences came from all over the place ;)
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In Boogie Nights, Paul Thomas Anderson’s film about the porn industry of the 70s and 80s, Burt Reynolds’ Jack Horner gives a fateful speech admonishing the advent of home video: “I have a stable of actors and actresses. They’re professionals. They’re not a bunch of fucking amateurs. They’re proven in the box office. They get people in theaters, where films should be seen, and they know how to fuck.”
It is not hard to imagine similar tirades (maybe with a few words switched out) occurring in Powell-Peralta boardrooms as the 80s were coming to a close, and skateboarding was around the corner from a crash. Skate videos of the decade were refined and narrative-driven, and for good reason. There were only like, six tricks invented at the time, so they had to fill up those other 53 minutes in an hour-long skate video with story, personality shots and other shit.
But what would come after skateboarding’s believed-to-be demise was a rebirth. Videos like Snuff, Video Days, Tim & Henry’s Pack of Lies, and Questionable were unrepentant in their progression — they were too busy inventing modern skateboarding in front of your eyes to worry about the extracurricular malarky from the Animal Chin days. New faces and a camera thrown in a backpack was the name of the game. The old mode was dead. But for how long?
Skateboarding draws many parallels to pornography, but one of the most curious ones is an incessant need to add narrative to something that nobody watches for the story. As we will soon learn, plots returned to skate videos as quickly as they went.
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Graphic by Requiem For A Screen
Skate videos have long been a portal for musical discovery. Except in recent years, it has began to almost feel like …filler. If one editor finds success with an untapped genre or artist, there is always an avalanche of imitators. If you find that “how has nobody skated to this?!”-song, the answer to your question is often “someone has, it was just in some video you missed.” And a popular song? Forget it, it has been in twenty kids’ IG edits since the day it got uploaded to YouTube.
(Don’t even start with the dude editing his “Trip to N.Y.C!” video to Big L right now.)
Choosing a song that makes an impact, and gets people tracking it down is hard when our attention spans are their fickle 2019 selves. We reached out to five people who routinely put out edits (i.e. not the guys dropping one full-length every few years) to get their thoughts on how the process of selecting music in skate videos has evolved.
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As the amount of skateboard content has grown to uncontainable levels, it has been interesting to watch the reassessment of what people value in a skater, part or video. Everyone has sat stone-faced through a part with incredible skating before, and left without being able to remember a single trick twenty minutes later. Jamal’s Palasonic part was the exact opposite of that. It was impossible to watch without smiling, and carried that “he’s having so much fun that I want to go have fun!”-feeling from childhood in a way that few things do once you clock your 10,000 hours of watching skate videos.
We caught up with the 2017 Q.S.S.O.T.Y., star of skateboarding’s first viral video, and someone whose skateboarding always leaves you with a fuzzy feeling inside to get a rundown of his inspirations.
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