supreme

Courtesy of Supreme

January 21, 2019

BLESSED TO BE BLESSED

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Clothing brand Supreme’s second full length video picks up where its predecessor cherry left off, capturing its star-studded roster at the height of the brand’s powers. Director Bill Strobeck turns his vision up a notch. He captures some of the most unique personalities in skateboarding while also taking viewers on an emotional rollercoaster before ultimately leading to Tyshawn Jones’s Skater of the Year sequence to cap off one of 2018’s best videos.

BLESSED begins with a declaration of intent, beginning right where Strobeck left off with Supreme, opening with Na-kel Smith nollie hardflipping the same three block he infamously slammed in 2016’s short video, Pussy Gangster. The skating gets no less astronomical as the video progresses, from Ben Kadow taking some of the heaviest slams imaginable to Vincent Touzery and Kevin Rodrigues creating some of the most inventive combinations possible.

There are many moments where the skating is so impressive that the pro skaters are surprised — just about every segment has at least one moment where Aidan Mackey or Na-kel Smith are in complete shock from what they just saw. The entire video leads up to Tyshawn Jones’s scene; he looms like a shark throughout, not appearing until the 41st minute for a few brief tricks before a second appearance at the end of the video. Tyshawn earned the cover of Thrasher Magazine prior to the release of BLESSED, the first New Yorker to earn the publication’s Skater of the Year award, creating hype for the video. It’s impossible to understate how important Jones is to the core of New York skateboarding. Tyshawn Jones is a kid from the Bronx, skating for New York’s biggest skate company. Every one of his tricks is absolutely stunning and it’s impossible to guess where the next one will take you.

In terms of cinematography, BLESSED comes across as more subdued, though no less effective than cherry. The film is still the same Supreme, incredibly political and punk rock, but in color and with smoother visual effects. One image flashes between Tyshawn Jones and graffiti that says, “Fuck Trump.”

The score is excellent as well, precisely matching what’s happening in the video. Rick Ross anthems play as Tyshawn Jones powers through his set and Mötley Crüe accents Aidan Mackey’s reckless style.

It seems out of place to say that a skateboarding video can make you cry, but BLESSED is unique. The video is dedicated to the late Dylan Rieder, who tragically passed away from complications with leukemia. His influence throughout the film is everywhere, perhaps best seen through Sean Pablo. Seventeen minutes into cherry, Rieder drops a heavy slappy to front smith grind in his signature all-white outfit. On the same ledge and in the same outfit four years later, Pablo drops a backside 180 to backside tailslide. The small gesture acts as a quiet tribute to Rieder. Pablo ends his scene holding up a “Dylan Forever” memorial shirt.

Every part of BLESSED exists for a reason, be it to connect disparate parts of the film, reference older videos or showcase Supreme’s distinctive blend of skateboarding and style. Ben Kadow’s part ends with him riding a light-up board through Miami, which seems mundane among an entire movie of mind-melting action. After the credits, there’s a clip of a house party in which Kadow drops from a ladder with the same board, encapsulating the Kadow’s brand: determination triumphing over creative stupidity.

The most memorable moments are those unrelated to skating. This isn’t a knock to any of the skating in the video — rather, it’s something that differentiates Supreme from the rest of the industry. This is both aesthetically pleasing and demonstrative of the team’s chemistry. Close-ups of various skater pairs are a hallmark of Supreme videos and capture each skater’s personality.

The final clip shows Na-kel Smith and Sage Elsesser freestyling a song. It’s one of the most genuine moments in the video. It is obvious that these guys were childhood friends before going pro. No other brand captures such authenticity, and “BLESSED” is the perfect word to describe it.

The skating in BLESSED ends with Tyshawn and Na-kel battling security to get Jones one last trick. The video is brought full circle when Jones lands a switch tre flip, solidifying his status as Skater of the Year on the same obstacle that the video began. As he rolls away, the video cuts to Na-kel Smith watching with a gaping mouth, clearly excited to see his teammate and close friend one-up his own trick. This moment is truly BLESSED.

Daniel Moran is a sophomore in the College of Human Ecology. He can be reached at dhm96@cornell.edu.