Wednesday night saw the London premiere of “BLESSED,” the second full-length skateboard video by William Strobeck for Supreme. The long-awaited video does away with all the usual skate video cliches from the past decade—no corny skits, no special effects, and no rolling shots of marble plazas in China. This is raw street skating at its core, and Strobeck has managed to capture on film the pure vibe of a tight-knit crew session, rather than an endless succession of polished trick-after-trick runs.
If Supreme’s 2014 video “cherry” was aptly named for popping the proverbial cherry of their young skate team to the world, then “BLESSED” could easily have been named after ‘90s R&B crooners Boyz II Men. The still-young squad assembled by Supreme have grown in strength, size, and confidence to all become pros on top of their game.
Looking effortlessly way cooler than any Supreme collectors who keep their box logo T-shirts in pristine condition, skaters Na-Kel Smith (fresh out of a breakout role in Jonah Hill's Mid-90s), Sage Elsesser, Sean Pablo, Tyshawn Jones, Ben Kadow, Kevin Bradly, Rowan Zorilla, Aidan Mackey, Kevin Rodrigues of Parisian “The Blobys” crew , Vincent Touzery, and Gregoire Cuadrado, all deliver heavy hitting sections to establish themselves as a truly elite squad.
There are cameos from some of skateboarding’s finest—Elijah Berle, Gonz, Jerry Hsu, Grant Taylor, Spanky, Andrew Reynolds, Jason Dill, Corey Duffel, and even Supreme team manager Tino Razo all make appearances—but it’s the “cherry” kids who blister through the 84-minute film in a series of solo and shared parts. A bit like when Public Enemy and Anthrax joined forces to form a supergroup back in 1991, the Supreme skate team are an eclectic bunch of misfits who just seem to get each other perfectly and gel together as a crew.
There is a genuine bond between these guys who all love and support each other—exemplifying the very reason most of us got into skateboarding in the first place. This comes across so well in this particular video. By Strobeck simply focusing on their reactions to a teammate landing a trick, it embodies the challenging nature of skating, essentially continuous failure followed by fleeting success, some of which is fortunately immortalized on camera.
That hard-fought camaraderie feels far more genuine here than say, shots of endless high-fives that are prominent in a lot of recent skate films. It’s clear to see that Bill Strobeck has an almost parental pride over his young squad when viewing his subtle candid moments and trick build-ups lovingly presented in slow motion.
Speaking to Bill before the screening, he told me that “BLESSED” had been a genuine labour of love for the past two and a half years, and it’s evident throughout the film. The excellent music selection complements each part so well (Smashing Pumpkins for Ben Kadow, Rick Ross for Tyshawn Jones) and the slightly grainy effect on the film gives it a more dreamy and relaxed viewing experience than a slick onslaught of action.
Many people may feel that Supreme has become a more of a poser brand for the rich and famous over recent years, but that argument falls flat when you watch this video and see just how much time, money, and dedication they’ve put into their team, their filmmakers, and skateboarding itself. To make a full length skateboard video that runs at a whopping 84 minutes, and then sell it on a physical DVD in 2018 is an incredible feat. Yet, it also reinforces the notion that Supreme can literally sell anything it puts its recognizable mark on. But the passion, quality, and gravitas of this film carry much more weight than a bag of Supreme-branded bricks.
Whether the New York brand collaborates with luxury fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton or stamps their infamous Box Logo on anything from pinball machines to teddy bears, they will always have skateboarding at their core. In this way, “BLESSED” gives a defiant middle finger (much like Sean Pablo on the film’s promo poster and T-shirt) to the brand's detractors.
It helps flesh out the meaning behind the box logo, and makes it clear that despite its increasing popularity and pop culture visibility—from Netflix shows to Apple commercials—Supreme remains mired in skate culture's “Fuck 'em!” mentality. Almost 25 years after opening a small skate store on New York’s Lafayette Street, Supreme are still doing exactly what they want with no compromises. So behind the endless lines and inflated resale prices, not much has really changed since 1994.
Supreme “BLESSED” by William Strobeck releases on iTunes and DVD today, November 23. Get it on iTunes here.
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