If one were to pull a defining quote from an imaginary press release then Welcome To MIA is the first full-length video to come from Miami’s premiere skate shop, MIA. This is not to say that’s not true, it totally is. And on that knowledge alone we would have been excited to watch and review it; after all, the store – owned by Ed Selego and Chris Williams – has been supporting the Miami scene for eight years now and we’re baffled that despite its amazing scene of skaters, very little in terms of footage – let alone a full-length video – has emerged from Will Smith’s go-to party town where the heat might be on but apparently the camera isn’t. However, for anyone who has spent any time on the internet, this is much more than just the first video to come from MIA. It’s the latest Josh Stewart video, and that, is always very damn exciting.
Having worked with him in Adio’s ‘One Step Beyond’ and been his friend since forever, Selego approached Stewart with the job offer while he was filming for the eagerly awaited fourth instalment in his revered Static series. Whether as a result of fond nostalgia (Josh spent a great deal of his early filming career filming in Miami and both Ed and Chris were featured in the first video Josh ever sold outside of Tampa) or as dedication to a project with his close friends, the Static project went on the back burner and Stewart spent two years filming militantly for this video. Finally after a year of hype it’s here and it’s packed with a stellar line up of skaters including frequent Static cohorts Brian Delatorre, Forrest Kirby, Ben Gore, Luis Tolentino and many many more. This is definitely the latest Josh Stewart video and oh boy is that pretty damn exciting.
Firstly, let it be known now that if it is ever acceptable to have a time lapsed sunset or to have someone perform a flatland 360 flip in front of a setting sun then it is in the context of a Miami video in which this shit can fly. Have you ever been to Miami? It’s not so much iconographic as it is surprising that every 360 flip in the video isn’t in front of a gorgeous sunset. As for the up-skirt architectural pornography and billboard titles, well, anyone who still gets chills watching the intros to Static 3 will feel right at home here. Have I mentioned that this is a Josh Stewart video yet? It is, and it’s already damn exciting.
One of the definitive Miami skate rats, Joel Meinholz gets the first polejam of the video out the way by falling straight into it, setting the tone for what kind of spots we are to witness without hesitation. Before you’ve had the chance to finish your first audible gasp there’s already a tri-force baffling lipslide to lipslide on an awkward looking triangular monument. Fed up with skate parks and skater-made spots in videos? Welcome to MIA doesn’t waste time getting stuck into the realness and this opening section is as street as it gets. Joel has a great style that flourishes in the locations present, from each uncouth ledge hop to ditch spot layback rollaways to a seemingly unskateable transition that gets a twirly noseblunt treatment with ease. A solid opening section that’ll be doing great things to quenching that thirst for raw street skating I’m sure many of you have.
Ben Gore keeps the back-alley spot frequency high with frontside smith grinds over domestic gas meters and ludicrous trick selections on spots so crusty that even a Scottish skater might cringe. In this section you will find early candidates for the best gap-to-lipslide of the year this side of Caradog Emanuel, huge amounts of pop and some frankly mesmerising backside flips. I suppose I should warn you readers in advance too: a good friend of mine developed a problem with his eyes in that he subconsciously forgets to blink as a result of playing too much Super Mario Bros growing up. This is the kind of video that will induce a similar problem. So don’t blink. Blink and you could easily miss one of the best tricks in the section.
Next is quite the treat, a full length part from the MIA co-head-honcho Ed Selego set to the best song Arcade Fire have made since whatever Mike Mo skated to last. If any of you were a little gutted to see only a handful of footage from Selego in the past few years then you’ll be pleased to know that, somewhat unsurprisingly, he was saving all of the good stuff for this. This is classic Selego material but better than ever: quirky backtails, mindblowing pop, lengthy noseblunts and utter control. Reunions seem to already be a trend of 2011, but this one between Selego and Stewart is already champion. The section even fades to black after a flatland tre in front of a gorgeous sunset. More than acceptable.
You cannot have an independent video without the all-important brotage and after a slick drive-thru introduction to recognisable Miami locale we’re presented with a collection of bangers from the MIA family. Not all of you will agree, but seeing a scene so tight get paid their dues by being repped in this is way more inspiring than the latest ‘this changes everything, again’ edit. Skateboarding is about being with your friends and getting creative on whatever the streets throw at you, not being the western lone ranger who grimaces after kickflipping out of that motherfucking tailslide. If you’ve missed that ‘wanting to go skate’ feeling then watch this section for an instant reminder of why you love it.
Paul DeOliveira picks up the bat, dropping lines galore as MF Doom spits rhymes galore as we continue our baffling journey through Miami street knowledge. The lines in here are simultaneously natural and meticulous that they can only have been conceived through hours and hours of graft and bursts of epiphanal creativity. Remember Steiner’s meandering threads in Static 3? Paul knows these labyrinthine ways like the back of his hand, providing there are marble ledges interspersed between his knuckles or something. This section comes with a complimentary R. Kelly sing-along too. Result.
Things take a turn for the One Step Beyond as Danny Montoya kicks off the big-name montage after a Strobeck-esque sequence of the local bike-riding guitar picker. After an ankle-defying first trick this section is packed with bangers from the likes of Steve Durante, Tony Manfre, Steve Nesser, Danny Renaud (yes!), Pat Steiner, Josh Stewart himself (sick!), 80s Joe, Jeff Lenoce, Kenny Anderson, Fred Gall and many more. Pure chaos, all in that otherworldly yellow sun-bathed glow.
Next we see Stewart return to his favourite RJD2 mixtape for Jahmal Williams‘ section that’s complete with the rarely-seen 360 to fakie and more traffic-dodging malarkey. Chris Williams hits the spotlight next and when he’s not dodging the shadow of Josh’s perpetual 5-panel cap, MIA’s other head honcho mixes style with quirky spot hopping that screams for the jazz flute.
Danny Fuenzalida is disgustingly clean and has the kind of style that’ll invoke bromo-erotic comments on whatever site this video will inevitably be pirated on (shame on you in advance – really, you’re scum). Complete with palm tree dodging and smashing into do not enter signs this is yet another defining section for the video. I’m stunned that this scene hasn’t had more coverage, it sure as hell beats grey warehouses and the next big bench.
Since I’ve already mentioned that this video will inevitably wind up on the internet for all the barnacles and leeches to feast upon in crummy quality, the prelude to the next section served as a reminder as why both MIA and Josh deserve your cash. Josh could easily make a killing working for a tourist board, making those sleazy ‘Come to Miami’ adverts that rub middle class aspirations in your filthy corner shop ramen noodle-laden face. Instead, he grafts harder than most to make some of the few skate videos that keep the passion alive in this decade for next to nothing. Show your support.
Escaping this prime time commercial is none other than Forrest Kirby skating to a Morrisey song. Yup. As if this video couldn’t get any more rad, MIA have pressed the F.O.R.E button and everyone needs to watch their heads. Forrest is one of the most criminally underrated skaters ever: he is in the possession of a huge trick bag, inexplicable control and an inspiring approach to whatever spot lays in front of him. Switch double flip switch manual down a kinked manual pad anyone? Didn’t think so. This is already a contender for the best part of 2011 and undoubtedly the only time you’ll hear The Last Of The Famous International Playboys in Florida. Get that rewind button ready.
Brian Delatorre gets a lengthy part in before the curtains and it’s nothing short of banging. Sure, watching skaters weave through urban terrain and attacking everything in their path is all well and good, but watching Brian do it is like switching from Normal difficulty to Extreme mode (or what Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels was to Super Mario Bros). The sets are bigger, the run-ups tighter, the grinds longer, the ledges higher. This is as legit as it gets. He even skates into oncoming traffic as the words ‘The End’ take up the screen. Legit.
Once again, Josh Stewart has delivered the finest collection of pure street skateboarding passion that covers a refreshingly tight scene that was hitherto overshadowed by the equally sunny but notably less stunning west coast. Go and buy this video now, it’s available in all good skater-owned-shops. Bienvenido a MIA.