Lil Wayne, the self-proclaimed “Martian” and “best rapper alive,” has added a new title to his repertoire— semi-pro skateboarder. He’d already been dropping skate references in his rhymes and Last week during an appearance on Atlanta’s Hot 107.9 radio station, the 30-year-old rap star made an announcement that would shock many of his long-time fans– he’s decided to take his commitment to skating to the next level:
“I picked up the skateboard and I thought it’d be a hobby and what happened is it’s a lifestyle. In order to be fully committed you have to live that lifestyle… Rap is taking a backseat to skating. I believe my fans deserve some peace from me. I’ll be on my skateboard in the meantime.”
Upon hearing this, I felt a mix of contradictory feelings that I’m still trying to wrap my mind around. Being a black dude that has been skating for the past 10 years, news like this hits home. I, like many others, can remember a time not too long ago when it wasn’t cool for black people to skate. I couldn’t begin to tell you about all of the times I received ridicule from my black classmates in school for my love of skating–as if my interest in a sport other than basketball or football somehow made me a sellout to my race. True, these words hurt me quite a bit, but never the less I continued to do what I wanted, refusing to be held back by the bullshit racial boundaries my peers (and society) had built up around me.
From that perspective I feel like there are some positive aspects of Lil Wayne’s new found dedication to skateboarding. Today with popular rap acts like, Odd Future, Fashawn, Lupe Fiasco and Joey Bada$$, it seems like hip-hop and skateboarding are coming together more than I would have ever imagined. It’s crazy for me to walk down the street in my Crown Heights, Brooklyn neighborhood and see a group of black kids skating together. For someone that carries as much weight and credibility in the hip-hop/urban scene as Lil Wayne to publicly back skateboarding is dope, and will probably serve as big step towards the sport’s acceptance in lower income and minority neighborhoods.
But, there’s still a part of me that can’t help but feel Wayne’s actions and words are a bit too calculated. Watching his numerous skateboarding clips on the Web I couldn’t help but suspect that this is a publicity stunt. Is this sudden love for skateboarding sincere, or just a way for Wayne to stay relevant and exploit a growing subculture? I don’t know for sure, but honestly, who starts skating at the age of 30? Anyone that has a skateboarded for an extended period of time remembers the days when that little piece of wood with wheels on it was the most important thing in their life; the only difference is that it usually happened between the ages of 10 and 16. Regardless of the true reasons behind Wayne’s announcement, for now he seems to be sticking to his word.
However, I still doubt his sincerity. After all, Lil Wayne’s introduction into skateboarding has been far from normal. Who else after a mere two months of skateboarding would find themselves with access to The Berrics, or to be skating alongside the likes of Paul Rodriguez on a regular basis? It all just comes off a little shady to me, especially with his affiliation with the extreme corporate presence of brands like Mountain Dew backing all things Lil Wayne, skate-related. I’ve talked to a few friends who have written these events off as almost a mid-life crisis move, “Wayne is just trippin’ right now, but he’ll start rapping again.” But, ask yourself this: would Wayne really be skating if there wasn’t any money in it? True, as a result of Wayne’s partnership with Mountain Dew, the first ever New Orleans skate park will soon be a reality, but it’s straight up naive to think that giving back to the community is the only incentive here.
On a side note, anyone remember Jereme Rogers? The former skateboarding pro, and child prodigy of sorts, had some issues of his own in the past, via the clashing of his love for hip-hop and skateboarding. Only thing is, he might actually be a little mentally unstable… and he definitely isn’t making any loot off his raps.
However, one line that’s helping Wayne to cash in on skateboarding, “Bitch! Stop talkin’ that shit. And suck a nigga dick for some Trukfit.”