Scanner File: Black History Month

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The city is an ice rink right now, making it as good of a time as any to revisit the remaining stack of magazines in company storage. Strength ran this article in 1999, back when a concept as vague as “black skateboarders!” was substantial enough to build an issue around. Thanks to Alex Dymond for submitting this one to the archive.

The article doesn’t have the cult status that Big Brother‘s “Black Issue” does, but every fringe skate publication from back then was more-or-less playing catch up with Big Brother throughout their lifespan anyway. It has a cool narrative by Neftalie Williams about growing up in Springfield, Massachusetts, loving something then thought-to-be for “blonde-haired kids from California,” seeing Ray Barbee’s Public Domain part for the first time, etc. (Does anyone know where that Neil Blender quote re: “rap music is the worst thing to happen to skateboarding” is from, or if it was taken out of context?) There are some shots of New York names in there, though much of the photos aren’t particularly incredible. No Chrome Ball-level scanmanship here, sorry.

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“Show us your girl and get outfitted by Quiksilver” :|

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Skate Mags Used To Be Chill: 1997 Strength Magazine Feature on Suave House by Chris Nieratko

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[On asking MJG what “MJG” stands for]
“You’re white. He’d definitely shoot you.”
“So you ask him.”
“I’m not asking him, he’ll shoot me too.”

Anyone with a social media presence has been made aware that Lil’ Boosie was released from prison yesterday. Naturally, today’s morning playlist was Boosie-themed, and made a stop at “In My Pockets,” a UGK remix of “Sho’Nuff.” (FYI: The three of them are known to create masterpieces of vulgarity together.) From there, procrastination led back to the “Sho’Nuff” video, and then a cursory Googling of some Suave House-related minutiae, which then revealed that Chris Nieratko had written an article about hanging out with the Suave House guys in 1997.

“The House That Suave Built” appeared in the short-lived not-short-but-not-very-long-lived, mostly-skateboarding-but-occasionally-other-stuff magazine, Strength in 1997. (A lot of the Chrome Ball scans of semi-obscure east coast names likely originate from Strength, as it was known to give east coasters slightly more love than Slap or Thrasher back then.) The article details the 72-hour period Nieratko, Clyde Singleton, and Bill Weiss spent in Houston with the Suave House VP. It’s not some end-of-Thrasher interview with an “underground” rapper, but a feature-length chronicle of rap video debauchery coming as close in contact with intoxicated skate tour antics as it ever has. Amazing to think there was a time when skateboard publications would spend money on travel and accommodations for their writers to come back with something as off-hand as this.

Suave doesn’t enjoy the waves of nostalgia that Cash Money, No Limit or Hypnotize Minds do today. That is partially due to the fact that no streetwear companies have re-released apparel with their logos on it, but also because it was more of a gold-selling label than a platinum one, i.e. 8Ball & MJG were its most high-profile artists. It was responsible for a lot of great music though, in addition to getting Clyde Singleton laid in a Houston hotel room.

Scans stolen from Nieratko’s site. Also related to mid-nineties southern rap dynasties and skateboarding: Nieratko and Mike York interview C-Murder.

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