THE SIGNIFICANCE OF A MU$KA POST
(HINT) It's Kareem Campbell and He's a F*cking Legend.
If you’ve followed Chad Muska’s career you watched a ride that few other than 1970s/1980s rock stars have blazed harder. In the mid'-90s Muska went from “some dude on Maple” to The Hosoi of street skating, before becoming a socialite, record producer, and now, fine artist with a concentration in sculpture.
Yes, it’s fucking wild and we didn’t even mention hanging out with the Hiltons, a shameful arrest or him thanking a tree during his Epicly Later’d episode on VICELAND. Muska definitely blew it in the Summer of 2011 by dropping racial slurs while being arrested for graffiti in Los Angeles but like a much less racist W. Axl Rose, he appears to have taken that error seriously, emerging as a positive human being less enamored with the material world than his former incarnation.
While it might sound corny, Muska 4.0 is just as magnetic as a sober, vegan thing maker because he’s projecting himself rather than following celebrity tropes and bro posturing. The best example is his artwork, which has evolved from graffiti on canvas/street art to conceptual cement work—a subtle throwback to his early shitwork side hustle as a cement worker.
As he said on his Instagram account on May 3:
Mistakes are only mistakes until they become lessons, we must learn.
We don’t really know what he’s learned but we do see a serious evolution in his creative work.
Untitled Street Art (2009) Photo by Hank O’Neal (Left)
Mass (2018) - Chad Muska
Muska’s been quiet on his social channels but his most recent post and story was loud. The Skateboarding Hall of Fame announced its 2020 class which included Muska as well as John “Tex” Gibson, Bob Biniak, Chris Strople, Deanna Calkins, Dennis Martinez, Ed Nadalin, George Orto, Jerry Valdez, John Freis, Marty Grimes, Doug “Pineapple” Saladino, Ray Barbee, Rick Blackhart, Teri Lawrence, Waldo Autry, Hobie Alter, and Paul Schmitt. Both Grimes—the first Black professional skater, in tandem with his brother Clyde—and Barbee’s inclusions noteworthy as since in the Hall’s inception in 2009, they become the first Black skaters inducted. Barbee has previously performed at induction ceremonies but had yet to be nominated or named to the Hall.
Roughly four hours prior to me typing this out, Muska decided to rescind his spot in the SHoF, offering it to Kareem Campbell and captioning a post:
With great thought I would like to announce that I am respectfully declining my induction into the Skateboarding Hall Of Fame this year.
I believe there is a global awakening taking place and I find it only right to also respectfully suggest that you allow Kareem Campbell ( @kareemcampbelldotcom ) to take my place.
I know Kareem would of made it in the Hall Of Fame without this suggestion, but I truly believe that now is the time to show the world the racial boundaries that Skateboarding, especially “Street Skateboarding” breaks.
I have traveled this world my entire life connecting with the most beautiful yet insanely diverse group of humans called skateboarders, our industry needs to celebrate and better represent this diversity in our institutions, business and media.
In no way is this an attack on The Skateboarding Hall Of Fame or any other media outlet, it’s just something I truly believe will be positive for the image of skateboarding and this world.
Kareem Campbell was such an influence and mentor to me, although I am not black, Hip Hop culture has always been a major part of my life, Kareem was one of the first skaters that felt like he was one of my friends and not some untouchable pro, but he just happened to be the best skater in the world!
The music he put in his videos, the team of skaters he formed, the shoes he designed and the company’s he built were the blue print for everything I went on to do.
It is only right that Kareem is inducted before me.
Kareem quickly thanked Muska before declining the offer and adding that, “My HOF moment will surely come and if not I already feel it because of the love and respect you have always shown” and saying many nice things about him. This is exactly what Kareem Campbell would do because he’s proven that his career and imprint will always be driven by Kareem Fucking Campbell.
Kareem Campbell is an innovator in street skating as well as an entrepreneur in a white-dominated industry. He became one of the most high profile street pros, started his own hardgoods and shoe companies, and blessed us with a flawless career, plus Reem will occasionally snap the greater 360 flips whenever he feels like it.
Kareem should be in the Hall of Fame and to anyone aware of his output, he already is.
Now we could turn this piece negative or a critical takedown, citing Muska’s gesture as performative or worse, an example of white privilege but the biggest problem with that angle is that it takes the spotlight off Kareem, his significance to skateboarding, and how important Black culture and contributions have been to it.
Last year I interviewed Kareem’s former teammate, Lee Smith for Skateism , discussing race in skateboarding at length.
Here’s a relevant bit:
Why do you think Stevie (Williams) became such a name and figure and someone such as Ray Barbee, who was so groundbreaking and influential never even got a shoe model?
Because he’s the nice dude and like Stevie is the hood guy. Americans love the rags to riches story. I mean that cause that’s a symbol of the American dream. But also if it’s like from the hood to like to Beverly Hills or whatever, people fucking love that. That’s a great marketing tool and a great selling point. It’s spicy.
It works over and over. People loved Chad Muska because he’s the white trash hero turned socialite and now artist.
Exactly. Another thing about Stevie is that he was one of the first black skaters to step outside of skateboarding and then market himself to a whole other hip-hop/celebrity world and say, ‘Hey look, I’m part of you guys. I’m on this level playing field but I make money from skateboarding.’ And then all those people in those and that in those scenes are like, ‘Oh, he’s this black Tony Hawk!’ then people from outside of skateboarding, this core skateboarding scene, the black community, and the celebrity community started gravitating towards his story.
That could have easily been Kareem Campbell, who not only was pushing street skating but one of the first black skaters to actually own his own companies but again, that didn’t happen either.
I think that with Kareem the thing was—as somebody who was kind of close to him and rode for his team—was that he might of bit off more than he could chew by taking these two brands (Axion / City Stars) that he had and trying to be the face of them and doing it all on his own on the business side. Stevie essentially started DGK but like at the end of the day, Troy Morgan is the one that’s doing most of the business.
Maybe it wasn’t the best decision to take Menace out of World Industries when he felt that Steve Rocco was making all this money off Axion and Menace that he could split off and do it himself—he could make that money. But he was really just a 24-year-old kid who didn’t have the time to run two companies and be a top pro skater in the game and enjoy life at the same time. I believed in him because… he’s like my hero.
Sure, City Stars wasn’t Menace but it was Kareem’s and also, a launching pad for P-Rod and others. What it also proves is how difficult it’s been historically for Black skaters to have ownership in the skateboarding industry, even when they’re driving culture. *This is the focus of a future piece… a heavy one. Just a heads up.
So we’re here and I assume the Skateboarding Hall of Fame will add Kareem in 2021 or possibly tomorrow via Instagram and that’s another milestone he deserves but if your view of him was formed by video games, the ghetto bird, or late-career Kareem Campbell, I’d like to direct you towards his part in World Industries New World Order (1993).
Kareem ollies a kid, does one of the best front 360s ever, wears a leather hat, reps the Venture “Awake” long sleeve, and flicks every trick in his part with funk. OK, it sucks that World spelled his name incorrectly but skateboarding is known for epic typos but he gets first part and makes skating to Onyx look incredibly smooth not aggro.
For context before you view or rewatch this classic part—most likely filmed in 1992 and early 1993—skateboarding was eeking its way out of the Gross Era®; a time where speed and power gave way to slothy, drunken flips that often looked like a bug’s frantic twitches post-Raid bath. Clothes were ill-fitting and garish but slowly slimmed and toned down by 1993. Like Gino Iannucci in 101 Snuff (1993), Kareem’s footage stood out by being crispy and stylish. Like Iannucci, there’s a wildness to their precision.
After viewing Tyshawn Jones’ part in Supreme Blessed (2018) it felt connected to Kareem’s part in NWO, regardless of whether or not it was an inspiration to the 2018 SoTY. Along with the durags and swag, it was that perfectly wild attack that called back to Kareem. It looked like how he would have skated New York City—where he was originally from—in 2018-ish and why people will watch TJ’s part in 27 years and recognize that it also stood out.
Awards are objects, influence is eternal. (Some Stoner c.now)
Here is Kareem Campbell in New World Order via the incredible worldblind101 YouTube channel.