Olaolu Slawn and the Motherlan Skate Collective

Olaolu Slawn and the Motherlan Skate Collective | In episode 68 of Light Culture Podcast, Paper Magazine founder David Hershkovits sits down with Olaolu Slawn–skateboarder, designer, and champion of originality.

Olaolu Slawn is a founding member of Motherlan, a streetwear brand, skate crew, and self-described cult named one of HYPEBEAST Magazine’s top brands to watch. He is also an artist and designer making waves and being watched closely by everyone from Angelo Baque to Virgil Abloh to Skepta. But he just describes himself as a skater.

Slawn joins us on Light Culture Podcast (featuring an unplanned appearance from fellow Motherlan members Onyedi and Paolo) to disucss makes waves with their clothing brand, championing DIY skate culture, why Virgil Abloh is a good guy, and pushing positive politics.

Read Transcript

Q&A

David: [00:00:00] 

Nigeria’s capital Lagos is home to streetwear brand and skateboard collective Motherlan. Which may not sound like a big deal here in North America, but in Lagos it’s a big fucking deal. My guest today is one of Motherland’s founders, Olaolu Slawn, who created a niche for his cult following in a country dominated by Christian and Muslim values, where those who go against the grain are often treated with bewilderment and derision. I say ‘cult’ because that’s part of the Motherlan logo. An identity that proudly asserts its independence from the mainstream. But they are far from alone in their search for freedom of expression. In fact, Motherlan is now recognized as part of the alt, or alternative movement, a scene of music, fashion, and the arts that’s emerged in Lagos and been championed by expats, Skepta and Wizkid, and local cool kids looking like they just popped off the pages of i-D Magazine. Welcome, Olaolu.

 

Slawn: [00:01:09] 

Hello. What’s up?

 

David: [00:01:10] 

Hello. I’m good, man. Glad to have you on the show. Really wanna learn a little bit more about your country, and your city, and your culture. So, is this an example of globalization? Of Lagos catching up to the rest of the world, or is it truly something different and original?

 

Slawn: [00:01:32] 

I really wouldn’t say something original, cause WAFFLESNCREAM came before us. Cause we used to work for someone else, another skate company called WAFFLESNCREAM, which started in Leeds. And then we just start our own thing. I met Leo, Onyedi, and we were working at the shop together, WAFFLESNCREAM. This was before this alte shit was happening. a\And then fucking from there we just moved forward.

 

David: [00:02:11] 

But are you just catching up to the rest of the world, do you feel? Now that you see this bigger scene growing up around you, do you feel that there will ever come a point will Lagos will influence the rest of the world? You know, become a center of a subculture?

 

Slawn: [00:02:38] 

If I’m being honest, until we become a developed country, I’m not really sure there’s a way we could become, an influence or have that sort of influence on the world. Do you get what I mean?

 

David: [00:02:56] 

Yeah. No, it’s a reach. But I’m just feeling, because the US is kind of losing its status in the world. Actually I should ask you.

 

Slawn: [00:03:04] 

Oh. Do you think so? I don’t know. I think that America is just such a fucked place I don’t think it’s losing its place, I think it’s just always been crazy. I think America is just a crazy concept.

 

David: [00:03:23] 

[laughs] So tell me, what is the crazy part about it?

 

Slawn: [00:03:27] 

I don’t know. I think-

 

David: [00:03:27] 

Cause we think, when we look at Lagos, which is a big city. Millions of people, right? Probably one of the largest cities. You know, it seems like a crazy place to us, from here. Is that just how people look at other cultures in general?

 

Slawn: [00:03:44] 

No. I think it just works both ways. We look at you crazy, you look at us crazy. [laughter] But like, you know, we think we have our reasons. But more times, just like America is fucked, I think. It’s just a crazy country. I don’t know, everything- The news is just America. Like it’s wild.

 

David: [00:04:07] 

So you get a lot of-

 

Slawn: [00:04:07] 

I think some stuff was on that, uh, it’s just like that you can’t really explain. You just have to look.

 

David: [00:04:13] 

Is there a lot of news about America in Lagos that’s in the media?

 

Slawn: [00:04:18] 

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. Definitely. There’s a lot of news. It’s not just news. It’s like everything pulls from there down. It’s kind of like now stuff is coming more upstream from us, as well. But before it was more like everything that we saw on TVs and wherever, it just pulled down, and they were just like seeds and then tried to copy it. And like after copying it, it just turns out as something new. Do you get what I mean?

 

David: [00:04:47] 

Yeah. So if I want to join the Motherlan cult, what do I have to do? [laughs]

 

Slawn: [00:04:52] 

Oh, bro, you’d have to- Leo? [beeping sound] Oh, there’s no one there. I don’t know. Like you could do like a blood pact. [laughter] Or like a ritual. I don’t know.

 

David: [00:05:08] 

Something like that. But what is-

 

Slawn: [00:05:09] 

It’d have to be something like that. 

 

I don’t really know how to say. I’m gonna say. [laughter] Yeah, it’s something that- when we will come- we will come meet you. You won’t have to find us, we’ll find you.

 

David: [00:05:21] 

That’s great. Yeah, man. I need an excuse to go, you know, visit Africa. So you’re on my list now.

 

Slawn: [00:05:27] 

Yes. Come here.

 

David: [00:05:30] 

Beautiful. On a more serious tip, why do you brand yourself as a cult? What does it mean to you?

 

Slawn: [00:05:37] 

In Nigeria, when we hear the words ‘cult’, it means blood rituals, money rituals, decapitated heads and decapitated bodies, and magic and voodoo. And just joojoo, just black magic. That’s what a cult is seen as in Lagos. But whereas the cults in another place could be people just sitting around a table. Like doing some weird ceremonies, like weird dance, or whatever. Whereas in Nigeria, it’s just seen as black magic. We’re trying to take that and put it in Nigeria more as a lifestyle. Like a way of living. So when we say ‘cult’, we don’t mean- even though we take the piss out of people and we’re like, “Yeah. That’s what we mean. We mean like blood and all that.” Cause there’s a lot of superstitious shit in Nigeria. We just want to take the piss out of superstitious shit. You feel me? So it’s more like a lifestyle. No one’s actually gonna do blood rituals, or maybe. [laughter]

 

David: [00:06:49] 

Well, you get hurt skateboarding, you see some blood there once in a while.

 

Slawn: [00:06:55] 

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. But it’s just more like the way we live, we hope you would find a way of living like that but in your own way. It’s not like you are your own cult. I don’t know how to say it. Just you do your thing. Do you get me?

 

David: [00:07:15] 

As part of the Motherlan. Well, it’s just like free expression. Individual style.

 

Slawn: [00:07:17] 

Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

 

David: [00:07:21] 

The general, skateboarder life seems to reflect that.

 

Slawn: [00:07:27] 

Yeah, exactly. We’re just more like together. I don’t know. Sometimes the skateboarding culture and skateboarding world is very, very, judgmental. You know, that’s the thing about skaters. They’re always like, “Yeah. All skaters together. Blah, blah, blah.” But it’s not the case. Like if you’re actually a skater, you know, they’re like really fucking judgmental people. [laughter] Like people walking passed you like, “What the fuck are you wearing? Like baggy-ass jeans and shit.” It works both ways, as I said. Same as we look at Americans like Americans are fucked. Americans might look at us like, “What the fuck?” Everything works both ways. Skaters need to understand that. If you’re being seen as weird, it’s the same where you see people as weird. Like I don’t know. You’re not cool until someone thinks you’re cool. Do you feel me? I don’t know how to say it.

 

David: [00:08:23] 

There’s still a comradery, right? Recognition that you share something, you may have issues with whatever the looks or the style of whoever you may run into. But you’re still on the same team, overall.

 

Slawn: [00:08:41] 

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. I don’t know, with Nigerians, yeah, I’m pretty sure every Nigerian hates each other, but if you come and say something bad about every Nigerian, they’re just gonna team up and fuck you up. It’s more togetherness and unity, but like individuality in yourself. I don’t know if that makes sense.

 

David: [00:09:03] 

Yeah. Sure. Do you feel like it’s dangerous to be a skateboarder in Nigeria?

 

Slawn: [00:09:09] 

Yeah, definitely. Definitely. Not now. Not anymore. I don’t know. It was. It is, but it isn’t at the same time. It is because no one gives a fuck. There’s no rules. It’s lawless. If someone hits you, there’s nobody you’re calling for help. Like you see the way in America, like in the UK, they have call lines like, “Oh, have you been hit by a car? Have you been blah blah blah.” Call that. There’s no one you’re calling. 

 

David: [00:09:39] 

Oh. [laughs]

 

Slawn: [00:09:39] 

You’re just gonna go with a broken leg.

 

David: [00:09:41] 

There’s no official. But can you call your friends?

 

Slawn: [00:09:45] 

You can. You can get your friends to help you. But there’s no one actually getting in trouble. There’s no legal help for you. You’re just gonna be hurt.

 

David: [00:09:54] 

Is it officially illegal? Or is just something that, you know, people-

 

Slawn: [00:10:00] 

The thing is, in Lagos, the reason why skating’s so dangerous is because everyone hates it… The way it is just not seen as normal. So you’re already in a pot of stew, if you’re a skater, like generally. But now it’s less as bad as before. Cause now I think people are seeing more skaters. The concept of it is just being accepted like little by little, which kind of takes away the fun of it. But, you know, if it was for everyone what-

 

David: [00:10:33] 

So you’d rather still be like a smaller scene?

 

Slawn: [00:10:37] 

No. No. No, no smaller scene. Like bigger, but just still on the same fucked shit. I think that’s more fun. But I don’t know. Maybe I’ll grow up and get out of that mentality.

 

David: [00:10:47] 

In the US, I’ve been talking to a lot of skaters recently.

 

Slawn: [00:10:52] 

Yeah.

 

David: [00:10:52] 

And, you know, because of the Olympics coming up and skateboarding is an official sport of the Olympics for the first time.

 

Slawn: [00:10:59] 

Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

 

David: [00:11:00] 

They’ve been saying that it’s attracted a different crowd of- of people, very young in some cases, who don’t really have the same feel for the ideas behind it, the individuality and the outsider side of being a skateboarder.

 

Slawn: [00:11:25] 

Yeah. Definitely. Definitely. For me, that kind of takes away from it or what makes it cool. But at the same time, isn’t that what you wanted? 

 

David: [00:11:43] 

Exactly. That’s always the problem, right? With the subcultures. Where, you want other people to recognize what you’re doing, because so much of it is really great. Whether it’s through the graphic design or the videos that you make.

 

Slawn: [00:12:00] 

Yeah, exactly.

 

David: [00:12:01] 

Or the music that you create around the culture. But then, you know, eventually it gets watered down as it moves upstream.

 

Slawn: [00:12:10] 

Yeah.

 

David: [00:12:12] 

So there’s always that conflict, I guess, between, f doing something cool and unique and- and rad, off the grid…

 

Slawn: [00:12:22] 

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Exactly. That’s what it is. Because it’s cool when you’re doing it and it’s not allowed. And then you’re like, “Oh, yeah, please allow this shit.” [laughs] And then once it’s allowed and you get it, you’re like, “Oh, fuck. Now everyone’s doing it.” So it’s not really as home to you as before.

 

David: [00:12:42] 

Yeah. Well, I see people starting out as young skaters, maybe turning into, video shooters, or opening up shops.

 

Slawn: [00:12:53] 

Exactly. Exactly. That’s what makes it fresh. Do you feel me? So then you can make a life out of it now. It’s just not seen as just skateboarding anymore. You can like actually do things now. There’s a lot of skaters that were just skating for one day, they’re like, “Oh, I’m gonna pick up the camera.” And then they start filming. And then from there, more skate videos, they move onto something else, and then they become directors. And they end up somewhere, and they’re like, “This all came from skateboarding.” But, in my opinion, it didn’t, I think. You just had the passion for it. You just needed skateboarding to show you. Cause you’re interested in skateboarding already. You’re interested in filming. Or making, directing, or whatever. But then you never picked up a camera until you wanted to film someone skating. 

 

David: [00:13:47] 

That’s your inspiration. Yeah. Is that, in your case, is that your story? 

 

Slawn: [00:13:53] 

No. It was more like I found skateboarding and then I found what it could do, and then I was just like- okay, I’ve seen Blueprints, I’ve seen a lot of brands companies, and then my friend, Onyedi, he already had the mindset for this type of shit. So I was designing and he had the mindset. So he was just telling me like, “Okay, could you do this or not?” And then from there, we just went from designing to watching more videos, to trying to mold our own little thing. And then it just became a team of all of us just doing like fuck all. Like everyone does other things no one else does, but like it’s just like whoever does that movement does it. So I skate, right now, only on the ADM, Pizza films. And like now, Pizza is going more into like fucking creating and shit. It leads from somewhere to somewhere else. It’s so random. But then it works. Like I just try not to think about it too much, cause it could jinx it. You feel me?

 

David: [00:15:15] 

Mhm. Yeah. Yeah. But it’s cool, right? That’s what the beauty of this whole thing is. You can follow your passion, your thing, that has no real direction for commercial use, in the beginning, when you’re starting out.

 

Slawn: [00:15:27] 

Yeah.

 

David: [00:15:29] 

But then you create your own path, and you find yourself in the middle of something a lot more interesting.

 

Slawn: [00:15:34] 

Yeah. Exactly.

 

David: [00:15:36] 

You know, I was looking on your website, and I saw this statement that I’ll read. It’s a very powerful political statement.

 

Slawn: [00:15:46] 

Mmm. 

 

David: [00:15:47] 

“As time goes by, the system that is built to oppress people of the motherland crumbles. Motherlan-” Your brand, “will be with you every step of the way in times like this. We are the unheard African voice that will continue to show the world the cruelty and injustice of everything around us. Thank you for joining the cult and keep safe in these unsafe times.” 

 

Slawn: [00:16:14] 

Yeah. Yeah. That was Onyedi and Leo. Onyedi, does graphic design. He wrote it. But like that’s just some sick shit. Like when I saw that, I was just as like, “Oh, fuck.” As you are. [laughter] I just like, I had no… I just saw it and I was like, “Fuck, that’s so hard.” [laughter] You feel me? I’m- For me, I’m just a fan of that, as well. For like, alright, when I read that shit, I forget I’m in Motherlan and I just look at it, and I’m like, “Yeah. That’s some fucking sick shit.” 

 

David: [00:17:02] 

Well, I’m glad you guys are still getting along, you know, with all of that. You know, it’s great to see because it’s not something most people will put out there like that. Even though we all feel it in different times. When it says keep safe in these unsafe times. Is that a reference to Covid? Or is it a reference to something larger than that?

 

Slawn: [00:17:25] 

No. When it says ‘unsafe times’, for me, like I think I could talk for my friends as well. It doesn’t mean Covid, or it doesn’t mean like what’s happening with black lives and everything. Everyone needs to just realize that we’re all on a straight course to- boom. And like you can only just enjoy the ride, cause from my opinion, there’s no way out of it. For me, unsafe times means everything that’s happening now. Do you get what I mean? That’s what unsafe times means for me. It just means things right now are extremely fucked, and there’s no- white lights in sight. That’s just the way it is. Like imagine you’re on a plane and the pilots like, “Bro, brace for impact.” Like we just brace for impact. There’s- there’s no way the plane isn’t crashing.

 

There’s no way the plane isn’t crashing. That’s just like how we’re seeing things.

 

David: [00:18:36] 

Have you always felt like this or is this something recent?

 

Slawn: [00:18:40] 

No. No, you know what, like we’ve always felt like this. But it’s more been like fuck everybody. You wanna come?

 

Onyedi: [00:18:49] 

Who is it?

 

Slawn: [00:18:49] 

Come. Come say hello. See look, it’s Onyedi. He’s the one that wrote it.

 

David: [00:18:54] 

Okay. Hi. How you’re doing, bro?

 

Onyedi: [00:18:57] 

Yeah, what’s up?

 

David: [00:18:58] 

Good, man. How are you?

 

Onyedi: [00:18:58] 

I’m good.

 

David: [00:18:59] 

I was just reading your, this little couple of sentences you wrote, cause I thought it was a very strong statement. What prompted you to go out there that way? 

 

Onyedi: [00:19:39] 

Yeah. Basically like, especially now, we’re properly gonna be on our shit. So even though you’ve always been here, just reminding the people what we’re about and like why we’re doing this shit too, like today. And why we’re like not losing focus, because like in Africa, generally, you don’t have any kind of freedom and voice, and shit like that. So like the way we do like- Or kind of like try and let people view it, it’s just like, you know, you can do what you want. And don’t let anyone try and tell you otherwise because, in Nigeria, it can be a bit crazy. Especially with parents and shit like that.

 

Slawn: [00:20:17] 

Exactly.

 

Onyedi: [00:20:18] 

Cause they just don’t understand anything. 

 

Slawn: [00:20:21] 

I think it’s just like everything altogether.

 

Onyedi: [00:20:22] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:20:22] 

What does ‘unsafe times’ mean? Plus your parents too, because sometimes your parents can be dickheads. 

 

David: [00:20:29] 

There’s a close family, uh, structure still, I guess, Because, here, people leave home, And they leave the parents behind and family, and it becomes less of an issue for them. But I’ve heard it a few times now, and I’ve seen it in some of the articles I’ve read, where it seems like that’s still a pretty strong hold because of the conservative culture?

 

Onyedi: [00:21:03] 

Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

 

In Nigeria, until you fight to the extreme, your parents actually have a very strong hold on the things you do. Because from young, you’re taught to rely on them. So by the time you get older, you want to rebel. You have nowhere to-

 

Onyedi: [00:21:26] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:21:26] 

Honestly, to like grab shit. So for a lot of us, it was skateboarding or whatever. Especially since like Nigerian parents are… I don’t even want to say that. It’s not skateboarding. I have friends that don’t skate, that still do the same thing. They’re like, “Fuck you. I’m leaving.” But then they still can’t leave because your parents have such a strong hold of what you can do.

 

Onyedi: [00:21:51] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:21:52] 

In the States, it’s probably more like, “Fuck yeah, I’m going to California.” But like how do you want to leave your parents house in Nigeria? Where are you gonna go? They know everyone you know. So there’s no- Where do you really want to go? Where do you want to run to? Like you can’t go anywhere. And leaving the country’s also difficult, because getting visas and all that, it’s also fucked.

 

Onyedi: [00:22:10] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:22:10] 

So you’re stuck basically. I’m happy I got the opportunities I did. But I have a lot of friends that probably didn’t, so they’re still stuck in that mindset of they’re in a box, they can’t get out of their like- Nigerian’s crushing, bro. But…

 

Onyedi: [00:22:29] 

Yeah.

 

David: [00:22:29] 

So tell me how it was being a kid growing up, in Nigeria. What is that like? You go to school, you go straight home or, can you go out and play? Give me a little bit of a sketch of how that might be.

 

Slawn: [00:22:50] 

You know, it was pretty fun, actually.

 

David: [00:22:52] 

Yeah?

 

Onyedi: [00:22:52] 

Yeah. Being in Nigeria is fun. Like-

 

Slawn: [00:22:54] 

It’s pretty fun. When your parents are like doing that kind of shit, and you can go to your friends houses but like they don’t let you like fucking- I don’t know. They don’t let you go out for too long. So you don’t experience enough for you to want to leave.

 

Onyedi: [00:23:16] 

Yeah. Because especially with Nigerian parents, they’re gonna want you to be like one way or another. Like you only really have, certain amount of like- I don’t know how to explain it exactly. This sort of thing about the strong hold on you. Like it’s just gonna drag you down.

 

David: [00:23:36] 

How did you guys meet?

 

[laughter]

 

Onyedi: [00:23:40] 

Yeah, we met through, um, basically, when I was like fourteen, I started filming for this guy. He had basically the only skate line in Africa at the time. And, my cousin basically had met him and once I got in touch with him, it was like, “Yo, like, hit up- We’re gonna go and skate. Hit up this guy. We’re gonna skate today.” So I came. It was through Jomi that I met him. But from there, it was just the same old like skating, filming, like-

 

Slawn: [00:24:15] 

But I didn’t know he was mixed-race. He just came to my house, and I was like, “Oh, shit.” [laughter]

 

David: [00:24:22] 

That’s an issue? Was that an issue for you, or your family, or anybody?

 

Onyedi: [00:24:27] 

No, no, no.

 

Slawn: [00:24:27] 

No, no, no. Not even. It’s just like a lot of times, yeah, like you don’t see mixed-race kids in Nigeria getting let out as much to places unknown.

 

Onyedi: [00:24:38] 

Yeah.

 

David: [00:24:38] 

Mmm.

 

Slawn: [00:24:38] 

His parents were just cool enough to let him come to my house. And like we just chilled the whole day, and then we just-

 

David: [00:24:44] 

Were you both skating already at that time?

 

Slawn: [00:24:47] 

Yeah.

 

Onyedi: [00:24:47] 

Yeah. When we met, we basically just started skating at the same time. So it was all just progressing together and shit.

 

David: [00:24:56] 

Was Fela Kuti a hero for you guys? Or was that something from another era?

 

Onyedi: [00:25:02] 

What is it?

 

Slawn: [00:25:02] 

Mmm. No.

 

David: [00:25:03] 

Fela Kuti.

 

Onyedi: [00:25:05] 

Yeah, what about him?

 

Slawn: [00:25:06] 

Was he a hero.

 

David: [00:25:06] 

Was a hero for you when you were growing up?

 

Onyedi: [00:25:07] 

Oh. Uh…

 

David: [00:25:09] 

Or was he just old music?

 

Onyedi: [00:25:10] 

Not really.

 

David: [00:25:11] 

No.

 

Onyedi: [00:25:12] 

Yeah. Just the music, really. 

 

Slawn: [00:25:13] 

His music is good. But it wasn’t really- I think was before like our parents like-

 

Onyedi: [00:25:17] 

Yeah. 

 

Slawn: [00:25:17] 

When our parents wanted to rebel, they listened to Fela. But when we wanted to rebel, we’re looking at fucking like other shit.

 

David: [00:25:26] 

Like what else? Tell me, what are you looking at?

 

Slawn: [00:25:29] 

Well, like, I don’t know, we didn’t really have Nigerian heroes. Our generation didn’t.

 

Onyedi: [00:25:33] 

Yeah. Especially just like the whole Internet shit. We mostly just like browsing and everything, and then we also found out about guys like, Jason Dill.

 

Slawn: [00:25:42] 

Yeah.

 

Onyedi: [00:25:42] 

Fucking awesome. Like obviously going deep into shit like Supreme.

 

Slawn: [00:25:46] 

Like Tom Penny and shit.

 

Onyedi: [00:25:47] 

Yes. Skaters. Trying to get into the whole industry.

 

Slawn: [00:25:51] 

Skaters, graffiti artists. Just like their shit.

 

Onyedi: [00:25:53] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:25:54] 

The Internet just changed it for us. Thank god the Internet came, because like by the time we were born, Fela was dead. And our parents didn’t even care to explain to us what Fela had done, cause he used to smoke a lot of weed, so they assumed we would start smoking as well.

 

Onyedi: [00:26:09] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:26:10] 

Do you get what I mean? So this kind of got out of our-

 

David: [00:26:11] 

And most people do, I imagine. Right? It’s part of the culture?

 

Slawn: [00:26:17] 

Yeah, they do.

 

David: [00:26:18] 

Of the skate culture, right?

 

Onyedi: [00:26:20] 

Yeah. I guess so, in a way, but it’s changing, to be honest, a lot. Like some people just want to keep like that sober image and everything.

 

David: [00:26:28] 

Hmm.

 

Onyedi: [00:26:29] 

But yeah, it’s cool. It’s cool.

 

David: [00:26:31] 

I think it’s interesting too that there’s no skate parks. Your style of skating, I’ve seen some of the videos, which I think is really great. I mean, you have some really great skaters.

 

Onyedi: [00:26:42] 

Thank you.

 

David: [00:26:42] 

And the videos are cool, as well. And the whole scene. It’s just a different thing from California-style skating. You know, these beautiful parks that they can go to. And even in New York. You use the streets and graffiti artists will do the same thing. Reclaiming the public space. It’s a radical act.

 

Onyedi: [00:27:10] 

Yeah. We never had anything like that, because like there was literally no one around to- And because of that, we’re kind of forced into street skating. When we travel, for example, we see a skate park. Sometimes it can throw you off because it’s like, “Wow. Everything’s so perfect. Like what the fuck am I supposed to do?”

 

David: [00:27:28] 

[laughs] Yeah. Where’s the fun?

 

Onyedi: [00:27:29] 

Like we just kind of feel more comfortable like free skating regardless.

 

Slawn: [00:27:32] 

Yeah. Yeah. [??? 00:27:33] 

 

Onyedi: [00:27:33] 

Yeah.

 

David: [00:27:35] 

There’s this whole thing about being more creative with this free skating in some ways. I live in New York, and I’ve been talking to a lot of old heads of the skaters, plus the younger people, and hearing about the differences between these two styles. And I have an appreciation of it, myself. Because the New York, urban skate scene, is just so different from the California one.

 

Onyedi: [00:28:03] 

Yeah. Man, New York is crazy. It seems so crazy.

 

Slawn: [00:28:03] 

Yeah. New York is more identical, skate-wise, to Nigerian.

 

Onyedi: [00:28:08] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:28:09] 

Than anywhere in America, I think.

 

David: [00:28:11] 

So you guys have been travelling around, as well?

 

Slawn: [00:28:14] 

Not really. Just London.

 

Onyedi: [00:28:15] 

Yeah. Not really. Just London.

 

David: [00:28:17] 

Oh. So what is this alte scene that, you know, you guys sort of seem to be a part of, as well?

 

Slawn: [00:28:25] 

We don’t fuck with it.

 

Onyedi: [00:28:25] 

No. No. No. That’s not us.

 

Slawn: [00:28:26] 

I don’t. I don’t. I don’t.

 

Onyedi: [00:28:28] 

I don’t know. It’s just some like-

 

Slawn: [00:28:30] 

It has its advantages and disadvantages.

 

Onyedi: [00:28:31] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:28:32] 

I personally don’t fuck with it, because it’s making everyone delusional. I promise you.

 

Onyedi: [00:28:37] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:28:37] 

Kids that were smart, getting straight A’s in school, now decide, “Okay. Cool. My friend’s a rapper. And he dresses funny.” Even if don’t fuck with it, he just starts doing the same thing. Bro, you have straight A’s already. You might as well just finish it off.

 

Onyedi: [00:28:52] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:28:52] 

And go to- like, bro, do you get what I mean? So now it’s just making- The disadvantages is making everybody-

 

David: [00:28:57] 

[laughs] You sound like a dad with your kids, uh, if you had kids. I don’t know, maybe you do.

 

Slawn: [00:29:04] 

Nah. But for-

 

Onyedi: [00:29:04] 

Yeah, for real, dude. Yeah. Yeah. Like obviously. It’s because like we knew when it was coming out. Like the or- Not really origins, but like… I don’t know. We saw what it turned into. Especially in Nigeria. Like I don’t know. It’s just kind of strange. It’s strange.

 

Slawn: [00:29:21] 

It’s bandwagon shit.

 

Onyedi: [00:29:22] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:29:22] 

I promise you. It’s bandwagon. Maybe like twenty percent of the alte scene in Nigeria I genuinely fucks with what they’re doing. The other eighty percent is just kids who have Instagram that want to talk shit to their parents.

 

Onyedi: [00:29:38] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:29:38] 

I promise you. Instagram killed us.

 

David: [00:29:42] 

Because, it turned everyone into like a star? Everyone thinks they’re a star, and they want to be photographed and-?

 

Slawn: [00:29:48] 

No, no. Not a star. It just makes them delusional. And then, bro, like it’s more like- I didn’t go to Lagos last December. And I had kids messaging me like, “Yo, do you have an acid dealer?” I’m like, “What?”

 

Onyedi: [00:30:02] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:30:02] 

“You want acid?” like, “I know you. I know you from school. Like you never wanted drugs.” But now because it’s so cool, and doing this is so cool and doing that is so cool. It’s just making kids who were genuinely just cool before, like try to be more like they’re on that side. Like, bro, like-

 

Onyedi: [00:30:20] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:30:20] 

Bro, you go to school and get straight A’s. I think you’re fucking cool, if I’m being honest.

 

Onyedi: [00:30:24] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:30:24] 

I think you’re still fly. You don’t need to be a rebel. You don’t have to be a badass.

 

Onyedi: [00:30:29] 

Yeah. People- They’re just forcing to be like they’re own thing.

 

Slawn: [00:30:31] 

Yeah. Do you get what I mean?

 

Onyedi: [00:30:32] 

Obviously, if you really care about something then, yeah, do it. But it’s kind of obvious that you don’t really care about it. You’re just doing it to be like the next person, or someone that you really like. Like you don’t always have to be like your idol. Like you can take traits from them.

 

Slawn: [00:30:47] 

Yeah. Exactly.

 

Onyedi: [00:30:47] 

But like it’s not to like, you know, copy their whole style, cause that’s like them. Like it’s not you. Like may as well just do your own shit, you know? Yeah.

 

David: [00:30:56] 

Didn’t I see you guys like in a photoshoot for fashion, as well? Did I see that?

 

Onyedi: [00:31:04] 

Of what???

 

David: [00:31:05] 

Didn’t you guys, do a fashion shoot with a magazine? Did I see- Was it i-D or something?

 

Slawn: [00:31:12] 

i-D.

 

Onyedi: [00:31:12]

Yeah. We did shoot with i-D before, yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:31:16] 

And that was the cover.

 

David: [00:31:16] 

So you guys were kind of playing that game too a little bit, right?

 

Onyedi: [00:31:20] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:31:20] 

Yeah. True. No, definitely. Definitely. Definitely. But the truth is, we generally have been interested in that stuff. Like we genuinely have been that. And I think that’s why I said it has its advantages and disadvantages. Because we were interested in it and it came for us, it doesn’t mean the same is gonna happen to everyone else. I promise you. Like you’re already on a good path. Like the only reason we came this way was cause we already had information about it. So more times, if you just start doing it randomly because you think, “All my friends are doing it. And I should be doing it cause it’s cool.” You’re gonna be weeded out, like we can easily spot that. Do you get what I mean? 

 

Slawn: [00:32:22] 

But then I just sometimes feel like everything has its disadvantages. My little cousin, as well now, he’s got straight A’s and all that. Like now he’s trying to start a brand and blah, blah, blah. And I’m like, “Yeah. Cool. Do that.”

 

David:[00:32:38] 

Right

 

Slawn: [00:32:38] 

You don’t need to be a badass to have a brand, bro. Trust me. Like you don’t need to shout out your mom and auntie. Like she’s nice. I don’t know why he’s being a dickhead, but… You get what I’m- Like it’s just- It has it’s disadvantages.

 

Onyedi: [00:32:49] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:32:50] 

I think. I think it has more disadvantages than advantages. Especially in Lagos, where everyone has that school of fish mentality.

 

David: [00:32:57] 

And it’s not just Lagos, I would say. Everyone feels it when it starts happening. Uh. You know, the Instagram thing is crazy in the US. It’s out of control.

 

Slawn: [00:33:08] 

Yeah.

 

David: [00:33:09] 

People are making huge amounts of money from showing what they’re wearing, or holding up some kind of product. And there’s a lot of young people who are actually making money out of it. Has it reached that level as well in Nigeria?

 

Onyedi: [00:33:27] 

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Like what we’re seeing is that people make money off it like that, but the people that are making money off it and like aren’t really going anywhere with it. That’s where the problem is like-

 

Slawn: [00:33:38] 

That’s where the problem is.

 

Onyedi: [00:33:39] 

Yeah. Obviously, if you’re getting money from it, then like, yeah, do your thing. Like that’s cool. I’m not really involved in it. Do your thing. But yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:33:48] 

It’s always do your thing. But it’s more times like the way- 

 

Onyedi: [00:33:51] 

Don’t force it.

 

Slawn: [00:33:51] 

The way the kids in New York, yeah, will come and get solicited to do a shoot for Nikon. They get like two thousand dollars for the shoot. Cool. You made the money. And then a kid in Nigeria sees that, and they’re like, “Ah. He’s done this shoot for Nikon. I need money. You know what? I’m not gonna- I’m just gonna stay here and just keep scrolling through what’s happening in New York.” Bro, like you need to stop. Because, first of all, the way that they give money there, they give money in Nigeria for it, but it’s not an endorsement, all that shit. It’s completely different. You could have two hundred thousand followers in Nigeria and be making maybe, a hundred, two hundred dollars.

 

Onyedi: [00:34:35] 

Yeah.

 

David: [00:34:36] 

Right.

 

Slawn: [00:34:36] 

It’s not feasible in Nigeria, I think. If you’re doing it, then like do it the right way. Just so that you can insure yourself in the future. Like don’t do it just because like in the moment you think you wanna do it, cause trends come and go, and people notice when you change with them. Do you get what I mean? So if next year everyone’s wearing all black, and now you’re wearing all black, like it’s just obvious that you’re- more like- like I wouldn’t want to say the word cheap…

 

Onyedi: [00:35:08] 

Yeah.

 

David: [00:35:08] 

Yeah.

 

Paolo: [00:35:08] 

I mean, I think in Nigeria, or Lagos, in particular-

 

Paolo: [00:35:16] 

It’s way harder to like find yourself in Lagos, cause most people here, you know, for example, in this thing that Slawn was just saying about how it’s not everybody. Like you shouldn’t, if you’re getting straight A’s, you don’t have to be rebellious. You can be yourself. But then it’s so hard to be yourself, because there’s so much pressure on us. It feels like you’re in a box. So even when you’re trying to be yourself, even when you’re trying to work within that box [background laughter] it’s hard to, you know, think outside yourself. So if you see some shit that you think is cool online, you’re gonna want to do that shit. Even if you’re not, you know, particularly like ghetto, you just want to be- you want to be able to find yourself. I think that’s it. That’s something that’s common with the youth. But Nigeria is so much more amplified because the options are so small. 

 

Slawn: [00:36:21] 

Yeah, exactly.

 

Paolo: [00:36:21] 

You barely have any options. The options are little. So you have to, you know, people are looking and grabbing. Everybody’s trying to do something. They’re trying to- You see something coming up, I wanna come up too. Like I need to be there too. Like-

 

Slawn: [00:36:34] 

Bro, you do. “I need to go dye my hair, because he’s dyed his hair in this color. I need to go dye my hair.”

 

David: [00:36:38] 

Right. [laughs]

 

Slawn: [00:36:40] 

You don’t need to dye your hair, bro. If you don’t wanna do it, don’t. 

 

David: [00:36:46] 

There’s a lot of pressure. Peer pressure. It’s a huge thing, right?

 

Let me ask you about something else, cause, we just got like a few more minutes actually. But I wanted to talk to you about your co-lab with Awake New York. Cause Angelo Baque has been on my show, as well.

 

Slawn: [00:37:02] 

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I saw that.

 

David: [00:37:03] 

I’m super impressed with his work and his, you know, vision and his politics. So how did that happen?

 

Slawn: [00:37:13] 

So, I think it started with when we messaged Awake like- like, “Yo, we fuck with this shit.” Cause like obviously-

 

David: [00:37:22] 

Why did you pick them? 

 

Slawn: [00:37:25] 

Because, you know, Angelo he was the, I think, former art director of Supreme.

 

David: [00:37:30] 

Supreme. Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:37:32] 

Yeah. So when he left and started his own thing, we just kind of followed that. If you get what I mean.

 

David: [00:37:37] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:37:37] 

Even being in contact with him still, like a goal to us. In this time, like it’s always just gonna be a- a gassy thing regardless, because that kind of stuff seems so far to reach for us before. Do you get what I mean? Like Supreme, Awake, all this shit… 

 

David: [00:37:58] 

But it’s not anymore. I see like-

 

Slawn: [00:37:59]

Yeah. Yes. No.

 

David: [00:38:01] 

Virgil follows you, I think. You know, you have some connections now.

 

Slawn: [00:38:05]  

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No. Definitely. Bro, I fuck with Virgil. He confused me at first, but as I got know him, I realized kind of how similar he is and he’s fucking fresh. He’s nice. He’s sick. But that’s always how it is, bro. You see someone, you know, on the Internet and you’re like, “What’s going on with him?” And then after you start speaking to him and you’re like, “Wow. That’s actually a really cool person.”

 

David: [00:38:29] 

Totally.

 

Slawn: [00:38:29] 

So like nowadays, I try not to judge from- from what the Internet says because it’s pretty difficult to judge. Cause you hear loads of shit nowadays. Like, bro, no one is safe. Like, bro, you’ve got Rihanna now apologizing because of, um, well, she was trying to be inclusive with the-

 

David: [00:38:50] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:38:50] 

I don’t know what she did to miscommunicate. But now she’s apologizing.

 

Paolo: [00:38:54] 

It was a text in a fashion show.

 

Slawn: [00:38:56] 

Whoa. Whoa. I was like, yo, you know the truth is, yeah, she probably had no-

 

Paolo: [00:39:03] 

Yeah. She probably like was just like something stupid like that.

 

Slawn: [00:39:07] 

Bro, they put her on blast.

 

Paolo: [00:39:09] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:39:09] 

The Internet is not a safe place now because volume actually works. Like before, it was more like, okay, there’s a couple people talking shit. But now it’s like, a couple people tweeting ruin you-

 

Paolo: [00:39:21] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:39:22] 

Could ruin you. Like literally could ruin you. So nowadays, I try not to judge from what I see on the Internet. And when I started speaking to the person, I’m like, “Okay. That’s a- that’s a cool person. He’s nice.” And a lot of time, you just end up being nice, bro. Even people that you think are posers, like they just end up being nice people.

 

David: [00:39:39] 

They’re good. Yeah. That’s one of the things I’m, you know, just discovering talking with you. In general, in my show here, I’ve been reaching out to a lot of different people that represent the world that I’m interested in. And I’m always pleasantly surprised after the conversation, even if I’ve had no contact with you prior. But, you know, I’m really enjoying this conversation. And I’m learning a lot from you.

 

Slawn: [00:40:02] 

Yeah. Me too. I don’t usually like doing interviews. But this one has been pretty like one of those interviews that’s like, “Yeah. That wasn’t awkward at all. That was nice.”

 

David: [00:40:14] 

Sweet. Thank you.

 

Slawn: [00:40:15] 

That was nice, bro.

 

David: [00:40:15] 

I wanna ask you one final question, if I can. And it doesn’t have to be the final question, but something. Girls, uh, skaters. Do you have- Is there such a thing as girl skaters?

 

Slawn: [00:40:26] 

Yes. There is. There’s one. Her name’s Blessing.

 

David: [00:40:29] 

There’s one?

 

Slawn: [00:40:29] 

If you’re listening to this. Blessing. She’s fly as fuck, bro. She’s not like doing kickflips or anything crazy, but she’s got a style and she’s fly. Blessing She’s- she’s sick. She’s actually one of a kind. To come out of Nigeria, be a girl, and then be a girl skater, and then actually be cool is one out of a billion chance.

 

Paolo: [00:40:56] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:40:56] 

And she- she hit that one.

 

David: [00:40:59] 

The girl skating scene is really growing tremendously in the US.

 

Slawn: [00:41:03] 

It is. It is. It is.

 

Paolo: [00:41:26] 

 Blessing, like she has her own crew that like she skates with. So it’s like a ripple effect. A good thing about new things coming up like that. Like barriers that block female skaters in other countries, they don’t really exist as much in Nigeria anymore because our shit is new. Female skaters are coming up with the culture, as it’s coming up.

 

Onyedi: [00:41:54] 

Yeah. Yeah.

 

Paolo: [00:41:57] 

Then like it’s not gonna be like female skaters, male skaters, it’s not gonna be like that. [laughs]

 

Slawn: [00:42:02] 

Yeah. Those are normal skaters.

 

Paolo: [00:42:03] 

Yeah. Like it’s just skaters.

 

David: [00:42:05] 

Just skaters.

 

Paolo: [00:42:05] 

Yes. It’s cool. Like, “I want to skate, I’m gonna start skating.” Like, yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:42:10] 

And it’s not just male, because we’re new to it.

 

Paolo: [00:42:13] 

Yeah. Exactly.

 

Slawn: [00:42:13] 

So it’s kind of our own definition.

 

David: [00:42:16] 

And do you guys have anything coming up now that, like, a new video or anything we should be looking out for?

 

Slawn: [00:42:21] 

Yeah.

 

Paolo: [00:42:21] 

Yeah.

 

Onyedi: [00:42:22] 

Yes. We have a couple new videos now. [laughter]

 

David: [00:42:25] 

Okay. Let’s hear. What- what is it?

 

Onyedi: [00:42:28] 

What have we got?

 

Slawn: [00:42:29] 

We have Victoria the film.

 

Onyedi: [00:42:31] 

Yeah.

 

Slawn: [00:42:43] 

Um. We’ve got SOSJ, and then they’ve got one coming out from Nigeria.

 

Paolo: [00:42:53] 

Yeah.

 

Onyedi: [00:42:53] 

Lagos edit.

 

Slawn: [00:42:55] 

Lagos edit. It’s just weird like-

 

David: [00:42:57] 

Are we gonna see that on a YouTube channel?

 

Onyedi: [00:43:00] 

No. Vimeo. Vimeo.

 

David: [00:43:02] 

Oh. Vimeo.

 

Onyedi: [00:43:02] 

No, cause YouTube monetizes a lot of music. So yeah.

 

David: [00:43:08] 

Mmm. That’s right.

 

Onyedi: [00:43:09] 

It tends to be quite annoying.

 

David: [00:43:11] 

So could you, Slawn or one of you guys send me, you know, in an email, where I can go check it out? Then I can go add it to the- to the show information, so people can check it out as well.

 

Onyedi: [00:43:25] 

Yeah. For sure.

 

Slawn: [00:43:28] 

Definitely.

 

Paolo: [00:43:28] 

Yes.

 

[laughter]

 

Slawn: [00:43:32] 

Oh my god, we ended up as a whole crew. [laughter]

 

David: [00:43:34] 

I love it. Thank you. Yeah, I’m so glad to have seen you all and met you. And, enjoy the rest of the day, or night, I guess, it’s there. Stay safe, as you say.

 

Leo: [00:43:43] 

Stay safe, man.

 

Slawn: [00:43:44] 

If you’re listening to this, only do drugs if you’re interested in them. Don’t do it cause your friends think it’s cool.

 

Leo: [00:43:49] 

Yeah. Drugs are not cool.

 

[laughter]

 

David: [00:43:52] 

Alright.

 

Slawn: [00:43:52] 

And also, if you want to join the cult world, we’ll come find you.

 

David: [00:43:55] 

Okay. You heard it here folks. Thank you. Thank you very much. The Motherlan Crew. Motherlan all the way. Thanks guys.

 

Leo: [00:44:10] 

I like the sound of that. I like the sound of that.

 

[David]

Alright. Peace.

 

Leo: [00:44:54] 

Yeah.

 

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