Skate video soundtracks range from underground to top hits

Skateboarding and the arts have always gone in hand-in-hand. Unlike other sports — a contentious label among many in the skateboarding community that we’re going to use anyway for the sake of this argument — the experience of skateboarding is only partially made up of the actual physical component that is skateboarding. 

The visual experience and the filmed content that has for years served as the major product of skateboarding is just as dependent upon fashion, visual arts and music as it is about the act of skating itself. This puts skateboarding in an interesting crossroads between sport and art.

This would explain why most professional skateboarders are usually designers, artists or musicians in addition to being skaters. The extent of these artistic endeavors often extends beyond that of a secondary hobby or pastime. For instance, Mark Gonzales, known within the skateboarding community for being the forefather of modern street skateboarding, is also a painter and visual artist whose original works are sought after by collectors worldwide, including President Donald J. Trump and P. Diddy. 

It should come as no surprise that a subculture so actively involved in the arts, of all variations, would also have its ears to the ground concerning the best and newest music. Music of all genres and varieties has always been crucial to the aesthetic component of skate videos: A video part is only as good as the song that accompanies it. Therefore, it’s a necessity that the soundtrack that accompanies a skate video is always on point. 

But it isn’t just that skateboarding always knows what’s best. If that were the case, it would be boring. Everyone would be tuned into the same canon of “objectively good” and “cool” music that was sanctioned by some guy who edits and splices clips together of people riding a toy. It’s also the way that the creators of these videos pair these songs with the individual personalities of the skaters in the video and the video’s larger aesthetic. The Supreme video “BLESSED” — the hour-and-forty-minute magnum opus of videographer William Strobeck — is a perfect example of this ability to mold the talent of the video to its corresponding music perfectly.

“BLESSED” is a video that encompasses a wide variety of personalities and people from various subcultures: punks, Parisian skate rats and up-and-coming stars from the Bronx. The complimenting soundtrack is just as diverse as the cast that makes it up. Strobeck manages to go from Mary J. Blige to Daniel Johnston to Iggy Pop without making the viewer pause to question it. Part of the beauty of the video is how simultaneously disjunct and harmonious it is. In theory, the collage of songs that Strobeck assembles shouldn’t work, but somehow, it does.

Strobeck has a remarkable knack for pairing songs to the personalities of skaters. Aidan Mackey’s part features a song from relatively unknown Bandcamp artist named Bedhead, that’s screeching, distorted guitar feedback and thunderous booming bass pairs perfectly with Mackey’s down in the dirt street skating. Sean Pablo’s part features a smooth and dark song from Depeche Mode that is as equal parts laid back and stylish as Pablo is. For Tyshawn Jones, whose standout part in the video earned him the 2018 title of Skater of the Year, his part is paired B.M.F. (Blowin' Money Fast) by Rick Ross, a song that is as deservedly confident and cocky as Jones is.

“BLESSED” is a perfect representation of everything that a soundtrack should be. It’s bold, eclectic and both understands and compliments its accompanying media better than anything else is capable of. If that isn’t the tell of the best soundtrack of the year, than I don’t know what is.

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