Hip-hop and rap are seven years removed from Lupe Fiasco's "Kick, Push," the song that might've truly introduced skateboarding to the genre's mainstream, even though the effect probably wasn't as sweeping as it was when Lil Wayne donned some Vans and skinny jeans.
Today, there's Black Dave, a 21-year-old Bronx native and Harlem resident who's been skateboarding for 11 years and rapping for two, gaining as much notoriety for ollies and kickflips while on the Zoo York Tour as he has for his recent mixtape, Black Bart.
With a performance at The Jambox showcase this weekend for Art Basel Miami Beach week, Black Dave spoke with Crossfade about being an amateur skater, what he keeps in his back pocket, the best Nike Dunk release, and other stuff. He even asked us a question.
Crossfade: Why do you consider yourself an amateur skater after doing it for 11 years?
Black Dave: Being an amateur skater is almost like a rank yourself into. It starts just learning how to skate, getting a sponsor, which people consider is being a flow skater when a company just flowing you boards. And then once you get on the company and then sign some sore of contract, then you are an amateur skater. But then pro is when you have your own name on the board, which I haven't yet.
If you were to go pro what would that mean with rap?
I mean, the goal is, at the end of the day, just to be great at everything I do. I've done skateboarding for 11 years, and I've been making music for two. But music's always been in my blood.
What city or county has amazed you the most while you were on the Zoo York Tour?
Pretty much, being on the Zoo York Tour, South America was insane. That was the most insane place I've ever been to. Everything you loked at was like a postcard. The kids out there, they didn't have anything. They had real beat-up boards, raggedy clothes, and then they saw us and all they wanted to do was skate and wild with us. They knew who we were and all that. That was definitely an eye-opener.
There's not one specific place that took your breath away?
I'd say Santiago, Chile. And actually Buenos Aires, Argentina was huge. That was dope. Because that was more like urban, you know? Like, more grimy Argentina.
People were protesting throughout the streets everyday, and there's a lot of graffiti. We all felt like we were back in New York on the other side of the world. So, I felt almost at home there.
When I was going some of your interviews easily the majority of the questions have been skating questions. They have to be getting old by now or are they still ok to ask?
I mean, skating, it's not about getting old. I've learned new things everyday. This year has probably been one of the most successful for my skateboarding. My whole life is something we could keep going on about. It's not really that it gets old, but definitely I think when I do interviews with music sites or blogs they don't really have a lot of skaters come through actually or any. So when they ask me it's almost like they're finding out for the first time. I may put them on to something that they might know about. So I don't knock it. It's all what it is. It's all a part of me.
OK. No more skate questions.
What is money to you?
Money is not shit. Money is not shit, man. I wrote a song about it, and people, when they see the title of the song and they hear the chorus, they're like, "What does he mean? I'm working for money right now." Money is what everybody - it turns everybody almost against each other. What we really want is success, and what we really want is to get our names out there. And I think if you can do that without money it's even more respectful. I've seen people come in the game, get their first little bit shine of money and then just change right there. It's not really about money. Every single dollar I've made from a show I've invested back into myself. Music videos, mixing songs, you know what I'm saying? It's just knowledge. Money ain't shit.
Bart keeps his slingshot in his back pocket. What do you keep in yours?
My back pocket I keep definitely my cell phone in the other pocket, that's where I write all my lyrics. And the wallet contains the MetroCard, which, if you guys are not sure about in Miami, a MetroCard is the card that puts you on and off the train in New York City.
I can hop on a train in Harlem and get to Queens in 45 minutes, and you can't even do that in a car. Probably can only do that in a plane. MetroCard is definitely key.
Senior Citizens rub you the wrong way. But you've had to have had learned something from an elder of yours. What was the best lesson you learned?
My mother has taught me many, many, many, many lessons, and my father as well. Just the people that I've come across growing up in the Bronx and Uptown. My father's friends, my mother's friends, people that were just older and wiser just kind of know things that they're not going to teach you in school pretty much. Their street smarts, common knowledge, how to interact with other people. The best thing I've ever learned was how to talk to other people and how to interact with them and not rub people the wrong way. That goes a long way. You might meet somebody and not know who they are and come off like a dick, you know what I'm saying? It's being genuine and being your own individual to everybody.
And I feel the young people my age, people that are younger than me, I feel like our generation is fucked. A lot of these kids is just real disrespectful, wildin' out. I've seen on WorldStar they got this thing called the Knockout Game. Kids is going up knocking out people for no reason. I'm saying, that's how you like to have fun? Sick. I go out and I go skate and I go in the studio. That's how I like to have fun.
Greatest Nike Dunk release of all-time? And don't say the Supremes because you're sponsored by them.
I'm actually not that big of a sneakerhead for real, for real. I'll probably say my favorite Dunks, the Supreme ones was clean, but they didn't speak to me as far as like this is dope. I just like the basic black and white joints. They had these ones, I think they called them the Entourage dunks.
The Concord joints was kind of wack. Most people slept on those. Not really a big dunkhead. I like the old ones like the Raymans. Those joints were hard. Raymans they was called, right?
Like the Raygun or something like that. They were orange.
Yeah, the Rayguns. They were the black, orange and yellow.
Yeah, those were hard. They were fire.
I'm going to let you ask me a question.
If you had to change anything about today's hip-hop, what would you change?
One thing. Could be a major thing. Could be a minor thing.
Right now, I think I would change the fact that the content you hear on mixtapes and blogs, I would change the fact that you didn't have to listen to them on Sirius or any type of radio like that. I wish you could hear them on mainstream radio.
I definitely agree with you. That was a very good answer. I would've probably have said the same thing. That was the big discussion with the whole Trinidad Jame$ thing too. He had brought my name up and a couple other New York artists.
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Black Dave. As part of The Jambox Official Closing Party. Presented by Ashley Outrageous. Co-hosted by Just Dimy. With Jesse Boykins III, Jasmine Solano, Melo-X, Sin, WIll Brennan, Black Dave, Steven A. Clark, Keith Charles Spacebar, Austin Millz, Bizzy Crook, Nuri, and surprise guests. Sunday, December 8. LMNT, 55 NW 36th St., Miami. The show starts at 2 p.m. and ends at 8. Admission is free before 4 p.m., but costs $10 after. Call 305-572-9007 or visit lmntartsmiami.com.
Follow Lee Castro on Twitter: @LeeMCastro