Slam City Skates City of Rats DVD

A film by Henry Edwards-Wood

What is there to be said that hasn’t been said already about this milestone of British – or more importantly London skate heritage? City of Rats is the first full length video from Slam City Skates in 25 years of business and the man hired to carry the camera bag and shoot the team of heavy hitters was none other than Henry Edwards-Wood a.k.a. Hold Tight Henry.

The featured skaters picked from the Big Smoke list include Nick Jensen, Snowy, Lucien Clarke, Steph Morgan, Joey Pressey, Jin Shimizu, Casper Brooker, Rory Milanes, Karim Bakhtoui, Olly Todd, Neil Smith, John Tanner, Darius Trabalza, Rob Mathieson, Scott Howes and Danny Brady. If that wasn’t enough, there are all the affiliates and shop staff to include in the mix. There is something good to say about everyone I just mentioned, but it would take the equivalent of the running time (60 minutes) to cover everything, so I’ll stick to the few things that have stuck out in my mind following the numerous viewings I made.

First and foremost: the spots. London is one of the world’s biggest metro poles and it looks like Henry and the boys have searched far and wide to unearth new terrain and unique features of the city. Next is the quality of the filming and editing. Henry has really set the standard pretty high for himself and future productions that look to portray street skating in the city. Blending HD tricks with elements of every day life in such a bustling place really helps solidify the origins and roots of the Slam City squad. The generation game might serve as a clever phrase to describe the next thing I enjoyed about City of Rats. Whether it’s the older generation like Chris Pullman or the young upstarts like Darius Trabala on screen, everyone gets their shine. The wide variety of age and experience also provides the viewer with a wide spectrum of spot selection and styles. A clear example of maturity is the shared Lucien Clarke and Steph Morgan section where these best friends forever paint a picture of their city like a couple of mature artists, or you can also pick up on the good times shared that come from Neil Smith and Jerome Campbell’s joint shop section (Lost Art/Slam) who have both brought some amazing skateboarding to the table as a result of friendship from having shop sponsors there to bring people together.

Finally, the music: Paramount to a film’s effect as it sets the pace and mood for every scene, Henry has weighed the scales correctly to merge old skool London rap music with relaxed folk beats. As a whole, the soundtrack helps pace the video – calming at times whilst hyped at others. An example is Henry choosing not to use stereotypical grime artists as the chorus to Karim’s street assault.

As a skateshop video, City of Rats goes above and beyond anything else in this category. As a standard skate video, City of Rats sits firmly among the best of them too. It took 25 years for Slam to finally commission a testimony of their dedication and support of London skateboarders and the team has done the shop and their city an honour. Commit No Nuisance.

Enjoy an exclusive treat from Henry today and witness Neil Smith and Jerome Campbell’s joint section yourself, aired for the very first time on the web below. Grab your copy of this fine DVD from Slam City today to keep some heritage and raise a glass to another 25 years of service.

Ralph Lloyd-Davis

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Skate Sauce presents Hard Times But Good Times

A film by Amrit Jain

The independent skate DVD market is a lonely path to walk and anyone who decides to take it deserves your attention. I first heard about Skate Sauce via the odd internet clip or online forum post and my initial thought was that it sold skate wax. To be honest that’s not something I’m going to rush to the skateshop for and tell all my friends about when their DVD drops. However, I was wrong. It turns out that Skate Sauce is a skater-run operation that focuses on documenting, editing and producing skate videos and other media projects. The main man behind the viewfinder is Amrit Jain, a name that rang a bell, as he was one of the first filmers behind The Berrics video streams. Skate Sauce was launched in 2009 and Amrit took his little black book of Los Angeles skaters and international contacts to get to work on a video project by the homies for the homies: Hard Times But Good Times.

HTGT reminds me of those early Tim Dowling or Daryl Grogan videos (Listen, Time Lapse) that focused on local Southern California scenes that mixed unsung heroes with the era’s poster boys. I might be wrong but there is a definite 90s-00s influence to this video with it’s focus of flat ground lines and ledge skating set to a soundtrack of Soul, Jazz and Rap beats. The modern take on afternoons spent on UCLA’s campus are evening sessions filmed at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona (MACBA). Amrit obviously spent a while in Spain and built a bridge back home with his camera and enthusiasm. The lesser-known talent of Justin Guillen (last part), Brett Sube and Matt Gottwig is matched with headline acts like Tom Penny and Vincent Alvarez. There is also a re-birth of San Diego pride with footage Shorties team riders and Skate Mafia alumni. Sammy Baptista, Jesse Siley and Peter Smolik share runtime with Jaime Palmore, Jimmy Cao and Wes Kremer amongst others.

With such a wide range of riders on show and the loose editing style that blends chill lines with chill beats, I think HTGT would best be viewed on loop at the skateshop or after a long day in the streets at home with a brew or a buzz. Trying to digest the full 60 minutes before going skating could have the opposite effect and make you drowsy. If you’re looking for a quick fix, I suggest you enjoy the 7 minute opening section from Vincent Alvarez who rushes into spots at ambidextrous high velocity. Or Julien Guillen’s last part which showcases his technical skills and ability to skate anywhere with style and confidence (Note the bonus game of S.K.A.T.E. where he takes Jesus Fernandez to the edge). Tom Penny skates Barcelona asleep at the wheel and despite being exclusive footage of the legendary Brit, you kind of feel like you’re watching a pro on holiday in other words don’t expect any major stunt work.

If you are a fan of 90s-00s era skating and keen to keep up to date with the latest Southern California (and MACBA) talent then this video is for you. If you prefer something with a bit more pace and thrills then I suggest you take a look and move on. However, I must accentuate that Amrit Jain and the Skate Sauce crew have done really well in producing and putting out an independent skate video when the market trend would advise heavily against such a heartfelt move.

Ralph Lloyd-Davis
31 May 2012

Watch the lost tapes of Sebo Walker that was released yesterday below.

Element Skateboards ‘Future Nature’

As workers around the world celebrated Labour Day (May 1st) with a well-deserved day-off or a good old riot in the streets depending on your current national economy and austerity plan, Element Skateboards paid homage to their hardworking team of amateur skaters by releasing for a 24hr period only Future Nature. Staying true to their environmental roots, Element decided to build this video around the idea of a David Attenborough wildlife show. They replaced Sir David with Blueprint Skateboards’ chief Paul Shier and invented an entire plethora of pig-latin names for their riders e.g. Accelerus Impossibilus or Gracefullius Awkardus, the tone is set for 37 minutes of top-knotch skateboarding.

With Cole Matthews, Mark Stewart and Ricky Bedenbaugh behind the cameras and Kirk Dianda directing, the Element amateurs give it their best in a bid to become tomorrow’s professionals. Julian Davidson opens the show and demonstrates his love of long rails. Despite the majority of the tricks involving flat metal bars, Julian does find time to kickflip up a hefty set of stairs too. I’ll skip straight to the last skater Nick Garcia here because I honestly thought I was watching Julian again. Rails aside, Nick takes his transition skills and applies them to banks and walls. Nick’s switch noseblunts are a treat and his ollie manual down a bank is worthy of Mosher status.

Back to the order of things, Boo Johnson and Madars Apse have the next couple of parts and each of them is dope. Boo has a very easy-on-the-eyes style that leaves you wishing the editors had put more lines in his section. The handicap ramp ollie to frontside 360 line is an example of Boo’s smooth operation. Madars on the other hand is the round peg in a square hole. He fits the happy blond-haired wholesome image that Element pushes, but he skates like someone brought up on Mark Gonzales and Eastern Exposure tapes. Trading big pop and sun bleached school yards for powerslides and wallie jams, Madars is obviously a Euro in a land of Yanks.

Speaking of Euros, the European Element team get some shine sharing a flow section with their American counterparts. Trent McClung and Nassim Guammaz serve as bookends to a solid section where the highlights include Chase Webb stepping on Nyjah Huston’s coat tails and Tom Schaar getting dizzy with the world’s first 1080°. Not bad for a montage section.

The last amateur to feature in this video is Evan Smith. I leave him till last because I doubt he’s going to stay amateur for very long and will soon join the professional ranks for Element or dare I say it, Habitat? Long droopy hair? Check. Travelling man? Check. Guitar strings? Check. Handsome skating? Check. Evan has been producing some stellar skating recently (c.f. Transworld Cinematographer) and this new section is full of unseen top rate footage that means he’s been putting in the work. Highlights include Evan’s fakie 5-0 variations in various Californian ditches and his Iberian wallie combos.

Some people might find the nature documentary theme of this video annoying but I believe Element wanted to stay true to their game and have a bit of fun at the same time. My personal preference would have seen Skateboard wrangler Bob Sanderson hired to lurk behind bushes and pounce on a few of the riders as they rolled away from afterblack hammers. The 24hr window posting might be a scheme to limit pirate copies hitting the net, but nothing stays offline for long nowadays. Look out for Future Nature on iTunes soon.

Ralph Lloyd-Davis

Poisonous Products

By Jeremy Elkin

poisonous_products_dvdWatching Jeremy Elkin’s Poisonous Products DVD is like a throwback to the golden 90’s era of hip-hop mixtapes. Back in 1993 New York DJs were pumping out 90 minute Maxell tapes of raw talent. I remember Tape Kingz running a solid distribution program that stocked my tape deck with the latest joints out of the 5-Boroughs. You’d hear exclusive tracks from your favourite rappers, but also get the tip off on new rappers that were pinned to be the next big thing in the rap game. Kids nowadays ignore the debut of Jay Z as he cut his teeth with a unique double tempo flow on the epic Big Daddy Kane track Show n Prove alongside a miniature version of Shyheim and the one Ason (later known as Ol’ Dirty Bastard of the Wu Tang Clan). Big Daddy Kane, Jay-Z and Ol’ Dirty all on one track – That’s some dope shit right there.

Poisonous Products is a 13 minute mixtape of VX footage filmed in New York City between November 2010 and November 2011 set to the soundtrack of the aforementioned track, Boogie Down Productions (Poisonous Products) and Lil’ Kim (Queen Bitch) mixed together by Grapes La Roc. The Eastern Seaboard of skateboarding is well represented with everyone from Rob Campbell and Shawn Powers to Aaron Herrington and Joseph Delgado getting clips. Those last two names are definitely on the rise and likely to grab your attention. Both of them weave sick lines through the city: Aaron skating past IRAK throw-ups and piles of grey snow in Brooklyn whilst Joseph rocks colourful Supra’s through Queens.

I remember the day the 90’s era of hip-hop died. The producer formerly known as Puff Daddy released his own solo album No Way Out and introduced the world to a genre of Rap music that sidestepped the streets and went straight to the clubs, suburban bedrooms and MTV. Low budget bro cam videos of rappers spitting verses in front of their local bodega were shelved and replaced by Hype Williams bubble lens studio sessions in front of flashing lights and film crews. I can’t help but feel the golden age of the skate video fell to the same fate when Ty Evans decided to introduce HD cameras and fireworks to the session.

I can’t guarantee that Poisonous Products will receive unanimous applause, but it will definitely tug on the heartstrings of skaters that still remember how to set the white balance on a VX-1000. When Rob Campbell runs a quick slappy and a tailslide at Astor Place it makes me feel like I’m watching the promo tape for the infamous Zoo York Mixtape 15 years late.

Support independent skate videos and order a copy of Poisonous Products from Theories of Atlantis. Funds will go towards Jeremy’s camera repairs and broken fish eye collection.

Ralph Lloyd-Davis

Shake Junt Chicken Bone Nowison

shake_junt_chicken_boneShake Junt is famous for making griptape and lumps of wax so anyone who didn’t know better would be safe in assuming their video consisted of cutting room floor clips that conjure up as much excitement as a tax bill. Well, stereotypes are made to be broken and filmer Beagle-Oneism and his buddies definitely smash any preconceptions with Chicken Bone Nowison.

There’s a reason why teenagers around the world are painting everything green and gold and neglect the traditional handshake for a double slap and pound combination. The industry runs on trends and Shake Junt are running the show right now. This is pretty amazing when you consider that all they do is deal hardware and scream obscure phrases, but when you look closer you’re quick to notice that Shake Junt is a subsidiary of the Baker-Deathwish camp which in turn means some of the biggest and best names in skateboarding are riding under their flag. As a result, Chicken Bone Nowison is anything but cutting room floor footage. Beagle-Oneism has gathered new footage, tour footage, off cuts from this year’s major releases and various other hi-jinks to create an hour long trip with some of skateboarding’s heaviest hitters.

Andrew Reynolds, Bryan Herman, Dustin Dollin, Justin Figueroa, Neen Williams, Theotis Beasley, Jeff Lenoce, Braydon Szafranski, Shane Heyl, Beagle-Oneism, Don Nyguen and new recruits Pat “Sinner” Pasquale and Mike White have parts as well as a couple of friends sections thrown in for good measure. The only person missing from the video (even though you spot him lurking) is Jim Greco. I was surprised to see he didn’t have any tricks as he rips.

Rather than go into detail, here are a few things Yays and Nays about Chicken Bone Nowison:

Neen Williams has some of the most beautiful heelflips in the game.

Jeff Lenoce finally came through with a real part that should prove the naysayers wrong.

– Even though some might find them annoying, Shane Heyl and Beagle-Oneism display genuine excitement and motivation which can only have a very positive effect on skateboarders trying to get tricks in an anti-skate city like Los Angeles.

Terry Kennedy handling business like a boss.

– Unfortunately Antwuan Dixon fans will be disappointed especially when they see that his few tricks are twinned with that of Neckface.

– “Look mum, no hands!” jumping out of hotel windows into swimming pools is highly inadvisable. Whoever does jump is merely centimetres away from meeting their maker.

– Spray painting someone’s face isn’t a good idea either!

– Dustin Dollin (interview) proves yet again that you can skate anything and rip it apart.

– A very cynical person might remark that certain skaters are a bit like one trick ponies that filmed every possible variation of a specific trick on various spots. Haters gonna hate…

– With so many skaters and so many styles, the soundtrack is varied. Everything from mixtape tracks to Lemmy set the rhythm for the footage and it’s all-good.

In the category of hardware company videos Chicken Bone Nowison sits head and shoulders above the rest. The skating and positive vibe of the video are the major strengths which should guarantee that you get yourself a copy and watch it several times. If the tricks don’t convince you, the title jingle definitely will.

Ralph Lloyd-Davis
7 December 2011