In Review: Play Dead

SW’s resident skate specialist weighs in on the latest full-length Supreme video.



I’ve tuned in to every new Supreme video since about 2018, when I originally started watching skate videos with intention. I missed the global frenzy over “Cherry,” since I started skating a year after it came out, and honestly was a pretty casual viewer at the time. I remember watching “Blessed,” but even then, I put very little fanfare of my own around it. This past month, when I saw that there would be a new Supreme full-length, I was excited for the obvious reasons—new footage from a stacked lineup featuring some of my favorite skaters (Kader Sylla and Troy Gipson)—and the inevitable Tyshawn part, which would more than likely catapult him to his second Skater of the Year victory. This particular video was even more important to me, though, because I’m at a stage in my life where—stationed thousands of miles away in Hawaii—I am isolated, by far, from anyone, everyone, and everything that I know. Watching skate videos has become a sacred connective ritual, and no video had come out, up to last month, with the widespread cultural importance “Play Dead” wielded.  

Since this was essentially my Super Bowl, I began planning how my day would go when it premiered. I’m 5 hours behind Supreme’s East Coast headquarters, so I knew that I would have to stay off social media so that the video wouldn’t be spoiled. On top of the crazy time difference, I was scheduled to work an additional 2 hour shift after my initial 11 hour shift during the day—so I had approximately from 5:30 to 8:00 PM to cook some food and watch the tape before I headed back out to work. I also had to beat my boss/roommate home and claim the TV before he had the chance to commence his daily routine of coming in, changing into shorts while keeping his work shirt on, sprawling out on the cheapest, supposedly most uncomfortable futon in the world, and watching “Elementary” from the time he arrives until he promptly turns the TV off at 8 PM. To add even more fanfare to premiere day, I set an alarm to remind myself to try to get the Supreme True Religion Gore-Tex trooper hat, which would serve as the first piece of Supreme merch that I’d ever own. Once I pressed confirm on the online store and purchased the hat, I knew that the rest of my day would be good. I headed out to work in the dark of early dawn, eagerly awaiting for the moment I could shoot home.

“Song choice was whatever, but that just adds to his oddball character. Dude’s fits suck ass though.”

“Play Dead” starts off with a slow motion shot of a child with fuzzy cornrows, a white tee shirt, camo cargo shorts, and Jordans throwing down his plastic skateboard and pushing past a preteen, also on a skateboard, who I assume is his older brother. As the child rides down the street he turns back to look at the camera and yells with his arms flung upwards, channeling that inner stoke that keeps us all skating. Watching that kid, I couldn’t help but think that maybe that’s how Tyshawn looked when he first started skating, just some kid on the streets of New York who would go on to make it his throne. Sully Cormier, one of the core members of the local East Village Star Team HomiesNetwork, who is also now Amateur status for Baker, caps off a big year with the opening part of the video. Personally, I think that Sully’s part was too long, clocking in at 8 minutes. There were moments that made me rewind, like the fucked no-comply up the 10 stair—but the majority of his part did not stand out to me. I feel that his part, which was stocked up with grabs, wall rides, drop-ins, and fingerflips, would have been more at home in a Frog video. In fact, his part would have been more appealing if it were edited the way that Frog videos are, and accompanied by the overtly-indie music Frog videos tend to prefer. The color scheme of Supreme videos is too dark, and the Deftones song was too intense for the skating in Sully’s part, which at times came off as a joke—**cough cough the tail slide (across the ground).

I heard from a friend before I watched the video that people were pretty hyped on Sully’s part. To that, I’ll say that every skater will draw their own crowd, and Sully is definitely a white man’s skater. I mean nothing negative by saying that, but that’s exactly what he is. An amalgamation of Ben Kadow and Aidan Mackey, (he even has a buzzed head like Ben and crazy poofy hair like Aidan in the same part), Sully is one to be a favorite of the white guy that’s still wearing cropped pants and listens exclusively to indie punk or some shit. Overall, Sully’s part was cool, and as a fan of the HomiesNetwork crew, it was refreshing to see one of their own get the major-company attention of teams like Baker and Supreme. Actually, I have no hate for Sully’s part. It’s dramatic as fuck, and I like drama. Although I could see his part potentially fitting a Frog video better, I think that Bill’s dramatic ass filming somehow complemented his skating, along with the dramatic ass Deftones music. His fits were eh—not my style—but again, they definitely work for the crowd he’s marketed to: guys who will never wear Big Boys and whose baggiest pants will be some potentially cut off Dickies or Carhartts that fit snugly around their cucumber ass waists.

After a (dramatic) slow motion shot of Sully raking his fingers through his hair in the sunset, the video cuts to Kader Sylla smoking a joint next to Kris Brown. I sat forward in my seat. I started clapping my hands and rubbing my feet together, as I knew I was about to be fed a variation of skating that can only be described as REAL NIGGA SKATING. Sage Elsesser gets it going with a front tail UP—thats right nigga, up—the pyramid ledges. What ensues is a shared part from Supreme veterans Sage, #Tallniggaskate general Caleb Barnett, and Sean “Avi Malina’s crouch is wayyyy better” Pablo to the tune of “Love No Limit” by the Mary J Blige. They slick pump faked with that shot of Kris and Kader, because even after that Mary J Blige song, there’s still no footage of them, but damnnnnn okay, Tyshawn hauling ass on the bike and drifting while some windpipe shit (“Bailo Bah” by Kaira) played in the background got me amped again. To the same song, we get footage of Rowan Zorilla, who I’ve been paying attention to since his part in BAKER VIDEO WITH ANDREW ZACH AND ROWAN earlier this year, and more footage of the #tallniggaskate general, along with picture-in-picture footage of the Italian kids. I fucked with how their footage was shown. It was sick to see their clips overlaid on a shot of them all just chilling in a room. Standout clips from their segment included the one zombie-esque switch front nose, kickflip out (that was so sick how his body just went limp as he was setting up for the kickflip out), and the backside flip over the rail from that boy Mouss. One thing Strobeck does that I like is include clips from kids who aren’t on the team but are at the session. In this video, he zooms in on the Skate Jawn shirt worn by a kid who just ollied a 10 stair, which was such a cool way to introduce the Philly section. 

The next few minutes can be perfectly described as “the exaggerated swagger of a Black teen,” to quote GameSpot reviewer Jordan Ramée. To kick things off, “Whodatttt???” by Zayskola thumps away in the background as Mike Ward, son of the sole child survivor of the bomb that the city of Philedelphia dropped on the MOVE compound back in 1985, is towed in to the ledges at Muni by Rico Abdou. FINALLY, the skating I was waiting for.  Although I’ve become particularly partial to emo rock in skate videos (that shit just works so well and really tugs at my heartstrings when used correctly), there’s nothing quite like rap accompanied by some hard-hitting skating, and it is exactly this that is displayed in this segment of the video featuring the new Supreme collective. With each stomped landing, I get more and more hyped, and then finally, my GOAT appears on screen. KADER SYLLA, my favorite skater since I was like 16, throws down and attempts a switch flip which he kicks out of before furiously punching an innocent bus which happens to be parked at the edge of the street. I can honestly say that that was probably my favorite clip from the video, and it wasn’t even a make. There was just so much energy and intensity in that  bail and subsequent blow to the bus that made me want to pause the video and go try some buck shit right then and there. Before I watched the video, a friend told me that there was too much Kris Brown footage. That nigga was trippin, because KB killed this part. He was definitely the stand-out from this segment in my completely unbiased opinion. The switch heelflip and the kickflip backside tailslide big spin out on the handrail were hectic. There’s a shot of Kris, Seven, Troy, and Caleb posted right before Kris starts a line, and when I watched the video for the first time, I took a picture of them all standing together, because I was like man this is the future of Supreme. Those niggas, specifically Kris, Troy, and Seven, are those young niggas man. They next up.

Ben Kadow. I used to hate on dude, but this part was funny, and I get his appeal. I think his audience is the same type of dude that would really appreciate Sully’s part, but I think he also probably appeals to more people too, because he’s been himself for so long.  Definitely a you-get-it-or-you-don’t type guy.  What’s undeniable is that his ass can skate. He has crazy pop for sure, and I was entertained by this part. The tap on the shoulder of the guy got a laugh out of me.  Song choice was whatever, but that just adds to his oddball character. Dude’s fits suck ass though. 

The shared part amongst Nik Stain, Vincent Touzery, and Aidan Mackey was cool. Really only mentioning this because some folks on skate Twitter were saying they weren’t fuckin with the use of “One” by Metallica in the part, but honestly, lotta those dudes are nerds who think wayyyyyy too much. The song went well with the fast aggressive skating in that part.  Funny how none of those people had anything to say about the use of Billy Joel in Ben Kadow’s part.

And last, but definitely not least. The man that we all were waiting for. Tyshawn Jones. Fitting that his part opened with the clip of the crew setting off all the fireworks. Think about it: when you set off fireworks, what do you say? That’s right, “I wanna go POP some fireworks.” And what does Tyshawn arguably have the most of in skateboarding right now? Pop. Genius. From the same Twitter nerds, I learned that the opening trash can sequence in Tyshawn’s part is a nod to Bryan Herman’s massacre of picnic tables in “Stay Gold.”  Pretty much the entirety of Tyshawn’s part is him skating spots in unreplicable ways. The noseblunt UP—thats right nigga, up—the pyramid ledges, the ollie over the trashcan in Philly into the lifted tile, and the kickflip flip over the subway gap were monumental tricks. Tyshawn’s part felt very NYC, and that’s what I loved about it, and about him. He’s got his own very distinguishable fashion sense from anyone else that was in the video, and from the majority of the skate scene right now. He’s always in the tank, athletic shorts, and the dooey; and if he’s wearing pants, he’s got sweats on. I’m not sure what it means, but in my opinion it speaks volumes that he doesn’t wear big boys or some equivalent. Maybe it’s just a testament that he’s a real New Yorker and not some transplant to the city, I don’t know (yes I know that there are plenty native New Yorkers that wear baggy skate pants).  Whatever it is, it’s fye and adds to his lore. I had to go back to a voice memo that I sent a friend the day after watching the video to really communicate what I felt immediately after watching his part. As a Black man in skateboarding, Tyshwan’s part is gonna carry a lot of weight for me, it is what it is. He put on for the City, for the Bronx, and for Black people with that part. It had a completely different energy than the rest of the video. Without getting too long-winded, that was a grown ass man part that he executed flawlessly with his own style. Absolutely, positively, fye.

“The color grading on Strobeck’s clips is too dark though, man. Got Black folks looking like unlockable video game characters.”

Overall, I enjoyed the video. It was a good viewing experience—the first true full-length that I’ve watched all the way through without it feeling like a chore in a while—and I’ll say that a big reason for that is the way Strobeck edits the videos. He’s inspired an entire generation of skate editors and filmers, and most of what I love watching (especially the 25 minute edits, which are increasingly becoming more popular) undeniably has some Strobeck influence. I don’t have many gripes with the video. Unlike many Twitter nerds, I don’t mind Strobeck’s filming, but there were certain clips like the kickflip over the subway gap and the ollie over the trashcan in Philly that would’ve been done justice with less zoom. The color grading on Strobeck’s clips is too dark though, man. Got Black folks looking like unlockable video game characters. Another recurring thing that is aptly brought up is Strobeck’s constant filming of women. It’s a mainstay in his video parts, and is a creepy feature that is rightfully called out.  Without going into it too deeply, as there is plenty of discourse on the subject, it’s definitely something that he should phase out.  

Supreme has proven once again that they have staying power and are able to capture the attention of the youth over and over. What seems to be the winning formula is crafting a team that is driven by its youthfulness. The kids are skateboarding, and with them at the helm, Supreme is destined to keep pushing the boundaries and being an industry leader in what’s deemed cool.

🛹Josiah is SW’s leading skate correspondent. You can find him at @constantlythankful.🛹

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