With the Olympics in full swing, there’s been no shortage of controversy surrounding the games. However, one major bright spot has been the addition of skateboarding, which made its debut in this year’s Olympic lineup. While skateboarding has been a mainstay of pop culture for decades, few know of the sport’s strong ties to the hip-hop community. However, the documentary film “All the Streets Are Silent” changes that, showing the influence and cross-culturaziation that the skateboard and hip-hop communities had on the other’s culture.
The documentary, which is narrated by Zoo York co-founder Eli Gesner with an original score by legendary hip-hop producer Large Professor (Nas, A Tribe Called Quest), shows how the skateboard community was integral in the inception of many elements of hip-hop culture and vice versa.
“All the Streets Are Silent” shows how the two vibrant (and at the time, young) subcultures collided on the streets of New York during the late 80s and early 90s, specifically at the iconic Mars nightclub, which was a major place that the numerous cultures (skateboarding, graffiti, hip-hop, and more) intersected and a mix of people (“uptown, downtown, models, journalists, and rappers”) co-mingled, crossing racial and class lines. The documentary succinctly compares the hip-hop and skateboard cultures as the “same expression with different presentations.”
The documentary describes how a wide variety of legends got their start at Mars or just frequented the spot: the Black Sheep, Puff Daddy, Jay-Z, Run DMC, KRS One, Ice Cube, DeLa Soul, a Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, and more. Moby was one of the first DJs at Mars.
Mars and the streets of New York during the time period were the perfect breeding ground for not just the intersection of hip-hop and skateboarding culture, but also for the intersection of art and commerce
Even though Mars closed shortly after its opening, the connections made and the culture that developed from it led to the first hip-hop clothing line, Phat Farm, which was described as a collaboration between Russell SImmons and “three skateboarders.” Zoo York, Supreme, and other local brand also grew from the core group’s influence.
Run DMC’s Darryl McDaniels explains in the documentary how Mars was “the place where all the people would conserve before the explosion of opportunity for all of us- the great clothing lines, the great labels, the great musicians- it all started with Mars.”
Using archived footage and interviews, the documentary brings to life the magic of the time period and the convergence that created a style and visual language that would have an outsized and enduring cultural effect that still exists in 2021. From the DJ booths and dance floors of the Mars nightclub to the founding of brands like Supreme, this convergence would lay the foundation for modern street style.