New York's skating scene has become extremely diverse over the last decade. I sat down with one of the original hip hop skaters, Louie Lopez. for a chat. Check out the full interview below.
I met up with Louie at his gorgeous Brooklyn apartment. Getting work done in his professional studio means just taking a quick hop downstairs. I originally met Louie in a very different setting; both of us working for Marc Jacobs Intl. Since our initial introductions, we’ve become friends. Besides being talented, Louie is an all around nice guy.
We sat down, drank some Gatorade, and spoke about his life as a skater and musician.
Louie, you’re a busy guy. Thanks for meeting up with me. Having grown up in NYC, how did you start skating?
My pops used to show me when I was a little kid. He loved skateboarding as a mode of transport but I was horrible. As a little kid, I was scared. But when my boys started skating around the 6th grade, I tried it out again. It was just the dopest feeling ever to cruise on the board. When it evolved into tricks, I was the worst. Took me forever to get an ollie!
Hahaha and then you only got better from there?
Not even close. My grades started slippin’ and my dad wanted to motivate me to do better so he made me a promise: if you can pull up all of your grades, I’ll send you to Woodward.
Yeah, Woodward is the most prestigious skate camp on the East Coast, out in PA. I worked my butt off that semester and managed to pull off a ridiculous GPA of about 3.7. My dad was astonished and then he quickly realized that this meant he was sending me to Woodward, hahaha, and that meant paying for it hahaha.
Hahahaha that is amazing! Your dad sounds like a major proponent to your success as a skater. How did your dad get into skating?
I don’t know, really. He just knew how to cruise and back in the day we were the only hip hop skaters in NYC. There weren’t many Latinos skating back then. People would see us cruising and say “what the hell is that?” hahaha. And it was a huge inspiration to me as soon as I started seeing other Latino skaters. It made the city pretty dope. He would also always have us biking from the LES to the far Rockaways, co-existing with the cars. I went back to skating after college. It was much easier and the best way to get from A to B. It was also after college that I switched to a cruiser. Skating was my MOT (mode of transportation) until the accident.
I should note at this time, that about two years ago Louie got into a severe accident. While skating a NYC taxi cab ran over his foot and crushed it. Doctors were able to repair his foot but now he has all of this metal in his leg keeping his bones together. The metal still hurts him from time-to-time and any major strains on his ankle should be avoided for this reason.
So you considered yourself a “hip hop skater”. When did you get into hip hop?
I was skating before I got into hip hop. Around the time I started high school, Marc Ecko was collaborating with all of these skaters to kick off Zoo York. It was perfect because that was a major gateway for hip hop and skating. My high school had its own studio so I ate that up and learned as much about music as I could. It was nothing but music at that point. After graduating from Suffolk University in Boston, MA, I opened for Kanye West.
Whoa, that’s incredible! Did you find a lot of skaters to be artists growing up?
Nah… that really wasn’t until Pharrell came out with The Neptunes. But that was more bubblegum stuff. Nothing like the underground stuff in New York.
So how was skating in college? I know you went toSuffolk University in Boston, MA, but was there any skating community at all there?
I only had two friends that could skate back then. There really weren’t many more people skating back then in 2000. But there was Theodor from Venezuela! Yo, this kid could SKATE! And the best part is that back where he’s from he said he was one of the worst. He was doing some stuff that people would never have dreamed about, not even at Woodward. It was inspiring, especially coming from a Latino. Around that time the world saw Paul Rodriguez. He went pro in 2002. I forget this other kid’s name but he is soooooo smooth. We could only say “YO that is insane!”
Skating originated on the West Coast in Cali, how successful has it been on the East Coast?
It’s hard to skate in a police state. When the police hear of a popular skate place, they shut it down. It’s like hip hop in NYC and the West Coast, they’re different. If somebody wants to do a Rodeo, that would be a West Coast thing. The success in the West Coast could also be attributed to skating ramps. The West Coast defies gravity. Skating just has a different definition in New York.
Louie then played one of his tracks with his group DobleFlo for me. The song was Push Decks seems to be semi-autobiographical with the theme of a little kid that doesn’t quit even when people are telling him that he can’t. Ill track. Highly recommend listening to this.
DobleFlo’s music is just like art in NYC. It culminates a lot of different styles and cultures but each one has it’s space and time to shine and breathe. You can check out their Facebook and the official site of The Brooklyn Label. For all of the readers around NYC, check out their next show at Webster Hall on June 30th, 2012. Tickets are only $10 which is comparable to a roll of film. Do yourself a favor and check DobleFlo out.
Many thanks to Louie Lopez for sitting down with me and talking about skating in NYC.