This time on Rad Rat Video, we’re going to get deeper into Muska’s career, starting with Shorty’s, getting into Muskabeatz, and of course his drunken racially-charged arrest.
When Muska was a kid, he started a little skate team called Disaster Skateboards, where he was in charge of everything. When he found himself without a sponsor, an opportunity at a place with some creative control would definitely have been interesting. And that’s what he got. Tony Buyalos, owner of Shorty’s Hardware, invited him to fly out to Santa Barabara to meet with him ASAP.
At that meeting, he was offered the position of being a pro for the team, and also having a big say in building the team and directing the style and strategy of the team. He accepted.
He built the team with Aaron Snyder, Brandon Turner, Peter Smolik, and Steve Olson.
“I wasn’t looking at all! Muska’s offer came completely out of the blue. I was just gonna keep it going with Foundation. I don’t think I realized how unhappy I’d gotten with the situation there until after I got out of it.”Steve Olson, The Chrome Ball Incident
Steve is now a rapper by the name of Crazy Monk. He might be worth looking into a little further later on. For now, let’s look at Muska in their shared part in Life in the Fast Lane for TSA Clothing.
This video was probably the first time people saw Muska doing Muska flips on video, since his Welcome to Hell part was never released. There’s some footage reused in here from that. It’s good, especially this crazy curved handrail at the end.
Let’s also look at Fulfill the Dream. For a lot of people, this is one of the best skate videos of all time.
It starts with a switch Muska flip into a cop, which is a great start. His multikink 50-50 finally gets an official video release here, but it’s right in the beginning. He does lots of tailslides to fakie, and a nollie lipslide. That’s another one of his signature tricks that he does in a lot of video parts. He’s got some nice noseblunts, and a good crook bigspin out. He 50-50ed the Gonz rail, which he found by accident trying to avoid traffic, did Muska flip over a roof gap, and an absolutely perfect kickflip back tail.
The crook bigspin and kickflip back tail are really interesting to me. He was capable of doing tech stuff, but he just usually didn’t. In fact, he says he never actually had a plan when he went skating. When he was filming, he would just start with his basic tricks and then keep going until he did the best possible thing at the spot. And he did more experimental tricks when the cameras were off. I wish more of that type of stuff came out. The trick selection is pretty limited. Maybe not quite as much as Josh Kasper.
Something else to note is the boombox clip.
Muska says he was always really inspired and moved by music, especially if he was drunk or high. So he would put his ear up to the boombox between attempts at a trick to build up energy. And in this clip, he just decided to grab it and go for it. But this is just him. He wasn’t doing a character for branding purposes or anything. It’s just how he skated. The ghetto blaster made its appearance in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater as the one foot 5-0 thumpin. I don’t know why it was a one foot 5-0, but then again he also has a front flip, so reality wasn’t really an important issue with this game.
Another thing to note is that the soundtrack for this part is a beat that he made. The first one with his first drum machine. He points out that there are issues with the looping and some of the effects get out of sync. But anyway, this video was huge.
“Chad is one of my best friends, even to this day. He’s a genuine guy and I got mad love for him. He obviously got the most attention, but he took it in stride. To see him get mobbed all the time, regardless of whether we were at a demo or just out skating, he was great about it.Steve Olson, The Chrome Ball Incident
“He was always cool to kids and that can be rare with people in that position. I’ve seen him stand on top of cars to avoid getting crushed, like over in Europe.”
With the way Muska started, by being homeless and drunk all day, you might wonder what success would have done to him. Yes, he got pretty crazy with partying, and we’ll talk about that soon. But it seems like he actually blossomed and became a better person. And instead of just drinking all day, he was getting involved in the business side of things more:
“I actually got an interesting phase of Muska because it was post-party time, “fuck it” Muska of the Toy Machine days. The Chad I shot was a really smart, business-minded, marketing genius Muska. The start of Muska Beatz and all that stuff… Straight-up Muska Mania. In skating, there are very few pros that change the way people dress and acted but Muska and Andrew both got to that point. There’s hardly anybody who’s been able to have that kind of impact on a generation.”Atiba Jefferson – The Chrome Ball Incident
Speaking of being a marketing genius and affecting the way people dress.. Let’s talk about the Muska shoe from Es, which came out in 1997.
“We all of a sudden had access to technology at that time, […] and so that was exciting for skateboarding and for us to go, like, ‘Let’s see what they do in sports—in basketball and running shoes and all these different things—and try to find ways to apply that to skateboarding,’ whether it was gimmicky or actual performance-based.”Complex, “How a Skate Shoe Brand Turned a Secret Weed Pocket Into a Footwear Phenomenon”
Of course, what does a skater need? Muska and Franck Boistel designed it to be bulletproof for serious street skating…. And also a stash pocket for your… house keys. My buddy Tony growing up used to skate with his keys clipped to his belt loop when he skated, but on more than one occasion, he bent or damaged his house key and ended up having to climb in his window. So that’s actually a really thoughtful design concept. But some miscreants used it for nefarious purposes.
“I remember—and, still, to this day—a lot of people coming up to me going, ‘Dang, your shoe saved me, man! Thank you!’ A lot of people got away with a lot of stuff, I think, from those shoes.”Complex, “How a Skate Shoe Brand Turned a Secret Weed Pocket Into a Footwear Phenomenon”
Stash pockets took off in skateboarding. Lots of other skate shoes added them in, and Muska later designed a Shorty’s bag that had a stash pocket for a 40.
But that was the only shoe he made with Es. A couple years later, he got in on the ground floor with Circa, and they offered him a ton of money and creative control, which he really liked. He was always thinking about what he could be doing when he’s hurt, like doing graphic design or sales or web design or anything else like that. He had a few shoes come out with Circa over the years.
Let’s look at some more skating. Here’s Muska in Transworld’s Feedback. It starts with him calling up OnStar for recommendations on a handrail. Pretty funny. This part is good. It’s got some really big handrails. Roof gaps, huge ollies, and this really cool hardflip. I know this style is out of date and one of the first videos I made was about the impact of this trick on video games, and the confusion it led to for new skateboarders. But it still looks cool. The noseblunts are sick, and he gets a little more tech than normal. Kickflip noseslide, hurricane to fakie, along with his standbys like the tailslides to fakie, lipslides, 50-50s. But there’s a pop shove it nosegrind and a front shove back 50 too. One of the most well rounded and best parts Muska put out.
But there’s a lot more to the story on this one. 9 of the tricks in this part happened in one day. Check out his Transworld Anthology part to hear the whole thing from Ty Evans, but here’s the gist. They were out filming in Arizona. Muska is from there, so he knew where some stuff was, but a lot of the stuff he skated was random or luck. The team starts by warming up skating a pool, and Muska spots a roof gap. He gets up there and ollies it and 180s it. He kickflips an oil drum. He does a 50-50 and front tail on a ledge. He hits this line, with the lipslide and then front 50 on the second rail. He hits this kink rail first try. At this point, everyone is blown away. It’s night, and he’s just been stacking clips all day. That’s a big chunk of a video part right there. But he has more. They find this gap to rail at about 2 am and he gets the noseslide and back 50.
Crazy. If I filmed 2 useable tricks in a day, I’d probably call it quits and go celebrate. But this guy just loves skateboarding so much that he couldn’t stop.
“Skating with Muska was always like that back then. Every time you rolled out with Chad, you were guaranteed to get three or four things that day.”Atiba Jefferson, The Chrome Ball Incident
Next up is Guilty. This video is framed as a movie, with little acting bits in it. Tony Buyalos, the owner of Shorty’s, came up with this idea on his own, and designed a lot of it on his own, wrote the whole script on his own. The editing was also done without a lot of team input this time. Muska says the team was stoked on the idea of being in a movie at the time, but in retrospect, he was starting to resent not being involved in the direction of the team as much. Let’s look at his part.
He does the Venice roof gap here, which was featured as the Muska Gap in Tony Hawk 2. He had photos of these gaps published a few years before this. He must have saved the footage for Shorty’s instead of letting it get published in the Transworld video. Anyway, he’s got a nice hardflip here again. Tons of tailslides and noseslides. I was thinking about how nobody does noseslides anymore unless you nollie in. But I can still respect this stuff. I do noseslides all the time. He’s got a noseslide bigspin and a tailslide bigspin, and a kickflip 50, but it doesn’t have as much as the technical stuff that tickles my pickle like his last part.
But with the team having less involvement with the actual direction of the brand, it was starting to lose the family feel. Muska started feeling more and more distant. So he started hanging out with Paris Hilton.
No, really. So Muska was rich at this point, partially because he wasn’t paying his taxes. So he was living in a really fancy neighborhood, and he sees a couple cute girls walking down the street and runs out to introduce himself. It was Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. He didn’t know who they were. But they become friends. He’s going to clubs and parties, hanging out with Lindsay Lohan and the Olson twins. Flying around the world. Partying hard and really leaning into his Muskalade persona.
He was also getting more into music producing and he started his own record label, Muskabeatz.
Anyone who played Tony Hawk 4 has heard a couple Muskabeatz songs. I’ve said on the channel a few times that I unironically liked them quite a bit. Muskabeatz didn’t go anywhere, but it wasn’t necessarily because he wasn’t any good. In fact, he was able to attract some pretty big names. Here’s the story.
“I was gung ho: producing music, starting a label, signing new talent, all that stuff. I invested a lot of money… and it was the worst possible time to try to get into music.Huck Mag 2019
Being a producer rather than an artist, it was a complicated thing to get my label either picked up by a major or to continue investing in it. So I kind of scratched that and jumped back into skateboarding full-time for another round.”
He elaborates on the Nine Club about what the issues were. First, mp3 downloads were becoming the next big thing. A lot of labels were going under at this point, and his strategy was to get CDs for sale in skate shops. Maybe that would have worked in the 90s, but it was too late in 2003 to be trying to build a label based around selling discs in shops.
Second, the rap industry is pretty sketchy. He talks about there being gang activity and stuff that he wanted to avoid. So it wasn’t successful, but it was a great experience being able to work with artists that he always idolized.
After Muskabeatz, he also tried to get involved in acting, even taking some classes. But all he ended up doing was making a cameo in Entourage.
The acting didn’t end up going anywhere.
And then he got back on board for Shorty’s ‘How to Go Pro’ video. And this was Muska’s last attempt at having some creative control. He was building a new team. The original team didn’t really love the idea, but he was trying to build and grow the brand more. He has a part too. Let’s take a look at it:
The first thing I noticed – he finally switched to earbuds! I always think about the poor editors having to figure out what to do with the audio when there’s a boombox blasting in the clip. A lot of the shots in his old video parts were muted. The trick selection here is looking a little dated, but he adds in a switch frontside bigspin. There’s a really cool corner grind thing. I remember seeing pictures of this, probably from a magazine. Also he does an impossible, which I think it’s a new one for him on video. He’s got some pool skating and big bank ollies.
But this was the end for Muska on Shorty’s. At the premiere for the video, the owner Tony approached him and asked him ‘When did you give up on me?’ Muska was thinking of this video as a way to expand and grow the company in a leadership position, but it was interpreted completely wrong. He quit the team that night.
It doesn’t end there though. Muska broke into Tony’s house to steal all the master tapes from Fulfill the Dream. He had them and was on his way out, then just decided to leave the past in the past and left them there.
This is when he gets much deeper into the partying.
“I had some things going on with C1rca and started to feel a bitterness with the industry. But I never stopped skating during that time; I just kind of took off and did my own thing for a while.Huck Mag 2013
I was a little wrapped up in the Hollywood scene and partying and stuff like that and I needed to separate myself from the industry for a while in order to appreciate it again.”
The Circa thing he mentioned was them dropping him from the team because he wasn’t filming anything. Luckily for Muska, that meant buying him out of his part ownership position, which funded lots more partying. Maybe that was unlucky for his liver and brain cells.
Anyway, this goes on for a while until he gets an invitation to ride for Element. This opportunity really got him fired up to skate again and get 100% back into it.
Muska has a part in This is My Element in 2007.
I remember this first trick, the 360 with the accidental late shove. I was so excited to see him come back and land that on purpose, but spoiler alert, it doesn’t happen. This gap to tailslide to fakie is really crazy. Some big 50-50s, and one to lip. There’s even a Muska flip in here, and believe it or not, a front foot impossible, which is a new one for him on video. This part overall is a really great return to form and showed that there was still a lot of gas in the tank for his career…
…Except that, as soon as it started to build up, he self sabotaged it by getting back into partying. And that eventually led to…
Muska, looking like an even rougher Chris Haslam, tags his name on a coffee shop, and is arrested for felony vandalism. Which isn’t a great look considering the condition he’s in, but it gets worse. He drops the N word a couple times.
Here’s the thing. I’ve seen and read as much stuff on the Muska as I could find in the past couple weeks. At this point in his life, I would be shocked if he actually held racist views. He put out a very heartfelt apology video afterward, and it seems genuine. I don’t know the guy personally so I can’t speak to his character, but he does seem like a good guy who went a little too far off the deep end.
“Element Skateboards, Muska’s sponsor since 2006, attempted damage control with the argument that “Chad used an “a” and not an “er” … at the end of the racial epithet,” which seemed to miss the point.”Aleim Magazine, issue 3
It didn’t work, and they ended up kicking him off the team anyway. This event was a big factor in his later sobriety.
“When you look back at your journey now, what stands out as the biggest challenge along the way?
There have been so many, but I think the expectations of others can be a big one in life. With skateboarding, I had to prove myself to make my mark. Then after you get to that point, there’s a level of expectation that comes along with it: you need to keep outdoing yourself.
Another big challenge was coming from nothing and making something of myself – because I didn’t know, really, what to do with it all and how to take it. I made a lot of mistakes financially along the way that I had to learn from and get myself out of multiple times.
There are so many more life lessons… Maybe one of the biggest things that I learned – and this comes with drinking and partying and all that – was finding out who I really was away from the public persona that had been created over the years through skateboarding, through fashion, through art.
All the things that I’ve done, at one point, became their own monster. And I was just following along with it. As those things faded away more, with me less in the spotlight as younger skaters came along, I wasn’t the hotshot I once was. I had to go through a lot of digging within myself just to figure out, ‘Okay, who are you? And who was this persona that had been created?’ Getting sober was a major step in me having the time and mental capacity to answer some of those questions.”Huck Mag 2019
I think that sums up the pressure and difficulty of the life transitions he was going through around this time. The TMZ event essentially ended his professional skateboarding career. You don’t see him trying to film skating or put out video parts anymore. But he still skates when his injuries allow him to. In January on Instagram, he said he’s not working on a new video part…. Yet.
So what has he been doing other than skating? Mostly art and design.
His biggest design success so far was the Skytop, which came out in 2007 from Supra.
“I was wearing some old, retro high tops at the time, and besides the dunk there wasn’t really anything in our market like what I was envisioning. I created the idea of the Skytop and worked with a designer […] to create the line. At first people were a bit like “What the hell is this thing? You’re crazy, this shoe’s not going to work”, so there was a lot of doubt on it. I guess it had a bit of a slow start, but once it hit, it hit pretty hard.”The Daily Street, “INTERVIEW: CHAD MUSKA & ONE (2011)”
Like he said, it started slow, but eventually rappers like Jay-Z, Kanye West and Lil Wayne started to be seen wearing them, and they took off.
“In 2009 the exaggerated hightop style was consistently being featured by athletic and high-end fashion brands; the new wave was in and Supra was largely responsible for the trend. General releases were selling out with quickness—retailers had long queues and international calls to lock down the shoe—which is usually only a problem with Nikes.”Complex “The Complete History of the Supra Skytop”
The Skytop II came out in 2009, and the Skytop III in 2011, which catches us back up to the TMZ event, and the Skytop IV came out in 2013, and the V in 2017.
The latest shoe from Muska is the Muska2000, which is inspired by his earlier shoes. These did make it to release and are available, but things are super weird at Supra now. They were bought out and they may or may not be getting shut down. Even Muska doesn’t seem to know what’s going on:
One of his most recent posts as of scripting this video is that it ‘looks like’ some sizes are available:
In addition to the shoes, he’s also been getting more into fine art, even having his own solo gallery show in 2013.
He said on the Nine Club that his work typically sells for $10-$15k.
What is he doing right now? In January, on Instagram, he said he’s working on some big business moves, so I guess we’ll see! Hopefully he doesn’t announce that between the filming and release of this video. But follow him on instagram for the latest.
In 2011, Muska made Transworld’s list of the most influential skateboarders of all time at number 12.
“I think I’ll skate forever. I’ll probably wheel my wheelchair to the skatepark and yell at kids or something. Without skateboarding I would probably be dead, in jail, or working some fucked-up job.
If I had stayed in the situation I was dealt, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today, and I owe it all to skateboarding, for sure.”Huck Mag 2013
At this point, it seems like Muska is really doing great. He’s working, he’s got art and design projects going on, and he’s been sober for about 8 years. He’s eating healthier, going plant based, and researching vegan shoes, which is something I’m really into.
Oh, I’ve got a free vegan recipe from Muska from 1996. Check this out:
“What did you make for breakfast this morning?
Southern Comfort Smoothies
What’s the recipe for that?
Well, I just invented it this morning. I make a smoothie every morning ‘cause I’m all about being healthy and wasted at the same time. Fuckin’ 2 bananas, package of strawberries, kiwis, orange, grapes – Ed taught me this part of the mixture- ice, couple raspberries, little bit of Kern’s pine/orange/strawberry drink, and half a bottle of a big bottle of Southern Comfort.”Big Brother 1996
So that’s it for Muska. I’m expecting great things from him in the future. I don’t know anything about high fashion, other than these runway ready T-Shirts available on my website. But I’ll be watching his career a lot closer now after making this video. I gained, and lost, and gained again a lot of respect for Chad Muska in working on this video. And just keep one thing in mind: “You can’t fade the Muska!”