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An unlikely couple: How skateboarding and Hip Hop music came together

New York in the 1970s and 80s was plagued by gang warfare, drug dens, poverty, looting and unemployment. The Bronx and Brooklyn districts of "the big apple" had become slums for black and Hispanic minorities.

Yet out of this deprivation was born today's biggest selling musical genre: Hip hop. Skateboarding followed soon after.

The break beat style of music, the graffiti art and fashion quickly become a massive part of the skate culture, which was also flourishing amidst the economic ruin. As DJs performed open air discos on turntables in city parks, skateboarders became part of the party as they rolled by on plastic "banana boards."

Scroll down to see a video of Hip Hop skateboarder Chad Muska

The break beats that were becoming popular in discos and at clubs were used as a sound track for the new generation of skateboarders to perform their tricks too. Inevitably, the two cultures mixed and soon the skateboarders were dressing and talking like the emerging hip hoppers as well as listening to the same music.

One of the first media to document this trade was a video by the clothing and skateboarding company Zoo York. Zoo York: The mix tape was the first skateboarding videos to use hip hop as a soundtrack through the whole video. Made in 90s New York, it demonstrated the ever growing culture ties between skateboarding and hip hop. The video shows New York skateboarders such as Harold Hamilton and Stevie Williams.


They often skated during the day then spent the evenings in recording studios with emerging stars such as LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes. The tape broadened the stereotypical image of a skateboarder as a goth or punk and it has remained to this day one of the iconic videos of the skateboarding industry.

Skateboarding has remained tightly linked to hip hop ever since then. Many new skateboarding videos sold on the high street will feature tracks from underground and sometimes mainstream hip hop artists. The soundtrack from Tony Hawk's Pro Skate games featured may hip hop classics. Modern skaters such as Chad Muska have helped to maintain this. Muska often skates with a boom box playing hip hop music and dresses in a fashion style closely resembling the hip hop culture.

An equally large part of skateboarding culture is still linked to rock and metal bands as it has been since the early days in California. This is embodied today by skateboarder Bam Margera who is a fan of the bands HIM and CKY. An emerging generation of youngsters that idolise Bam also listen to the same kind of music that he does.

Contemporary skateboard fashion is now split quite equally between metal and punk and hip hop. Often these two styles cross over. The music also crosses over and it can be said with certainty that hip hop is now a strong part of skateboarding culture.