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interview by Animal Chan
photos by Tiger-Bomb

We're all familliar with the Rap Life: fancy cars, lots of money, beautiful women. But no one ever talks about the downside that comes along with Hip Hop stardom. What about the total disregard of privacy, and don't even mention how the press loves to just get pictures of famous rappers in handcuffs. Who could deal with the pressure? That's why many of today's youth are discovering the benefits of becoming a sponsored skater. You've always got a fresh set of wheels and it also has it's share of groupies and cheddar. Meet Lee Smith an ameteur skateboarder whose sponsors include City Stars skateboards, Axion shoes, Stamina clothing, and Tracker trucks. Let Lee Smith tell you how it is living the Skate Life.

KRON: First question. If you became a rapper tomorrow would you rap about skating?

LEE: I'd throw it in here and there. I don't know. I'd probably make a song called Skate Life.

KRON: Kinda like Rap Life (Tash's single featuring Raekwon)?

LEE: Yeah, exactly. It would basically be about how we live everyday. You know, wake up at 2 in the afternoon, skate, have fun, and party n' shit.

KRON: I feel the same way, after seeing how you guys live it seems just like the Rap life, except a little more scaled down.

LEE: Basically, they make more money than we do. But actually there are some Skaters that make more money than Rappers.

KRON: If you could compare your skating style to a certain rapper's style who would it be?

LEE: I don't know. Maybe like Xzibit maybe. Kinda like not all the way fully blown, but still known on both coasts. He still has popularity and has a rugged kinda style.

KRON: Well you know Xzibit is about to go platinum on his next album. So are saying Lee Smith is about to go platinum?

LEE: I don't know about that. I wish.

KRON: So does it PAY to be a Skater?

LEE: Yeah. It depends on how you're gonna take it. If you're gonna put your all into it and go for the gusto and try to push the limits as far as possible, then yeah. If you're gonna just be a slouch and not try to take it to that level, it's not gonna work.

KRON: So do you know what you're gonna do for New Years?

LEE: Thinking about going to Miami. I'm kinda nervous about this New Year, I think everyone is nervous.

KRON: What are you nervous about?

LEE: You know, you got the Conspiracy theory, the New World Order theory, the Alien theory. Then you got the religious aspect, like the world is gonna end. And even if nothing happens, people are gonna be tweeking out and they might go crazy. So I'm definitely not trying to be out walking the streets. I wanna be in a comfortable place with people I love.

KRON: I saw you on Halloween. How come you didn't dress up?

LEE: Actually I didn't dress up because I was getting so fucked up every night that by the time I woke up it was time to go out again. I never had any time to prepare.

KRON: You could have just bought some 99 cent plastic mask like Eric (Pupecki).

LEE: I know, but then I would have looked corny like him. It doesn't look right. You either gotta do it to the fullest or don't do it at all.

KRON: Alright, another skate question. What's your first memory of Embarcadero? And what was your favorite thing to skate there?

LEE: Hmmm. Karl Watson was the first person to take me down there. It was right when I moved back from Detroit. I was in the 6th grade and I didn't know no one. I met him in school. Actually he met me around my house. He saw me skating and came up to me and said, "I seen you around school, I didn't know you skated". So that was cool, we hooked up. Karl would take me to his house after school and he would bless me with boards and stuff. I was psyched. Then one day he said, "I'm gonna take you to this place called Embarcadero." We went down there and the first person I met was Scotty Thompson. We stayed out late that night.I didn't get back till like 8 o'clock, and that was late for me back then. I remember when I got back home that night the cops were at my house. My mom was all worried about me because we had just moved back. Pretty much Karl Watson took me to EMB, and man, after that you couldn't get me away from that spot. That was my real home. Of course there was my mom's house, but you know...

KRON: Did you take your first sip of alchohol there?

LEE: I did my first everything there. Weed, alchohol, acid, everything man. Macking on girls... I wasn't trying to take it there, but you know.

KRON: So what was your favorite thing to skate there?

LEE: Hmmm. Probably the big 3 block and the bottom of the big 3. I would usually just bust a trick down the little 3, then I would hit the flatground in the middle, then try to bust another trick on the big 3. That was my favorite line. It was a pretty popular line.

KRON: Do you feel like you have a natural talent for skating or do you have to work really hard to learn things?

LEE: I gotta work hard. I'm not like some of these people out here. You know some people are just blessed with gifts. They won't skate for months, then go out and bust the illest shit. For me man, it's like I gotta stay on my shit all the time or else I'm just gonna fall off. I mean I guess I have natural talent, but it's not like the gift some people have.

KRON: So what do you think of me calling you the Mack 10 of skateboarding. Because Mack 10 is the one Black guy that you would guess is Black. It's a light skinneded thing.

LEE: Naw. I've had people say all kinds of shit to me. Some guy thought I was Italian. Like a dark Sicilian or something. When I'm in New York people think I'm Puerto Rican. People start speaking Spanish to me. But I like it like that, it's hard to figure me out.

KRON: You are Black aren't you?

LEE: My father is white.

KRON: So you're half and hidalf. I hear that's very popular with the ladies.

LEE: Mixed people are the most beautiful people on the earth.

KRON: My prediction is that 2 or 3 generations from now there won't be to many pure people anymore. Everyone is eventually gonna be part something.

LEE: At least in America, I don't know about other countries. They be stickin' to themselves. Other places like Europe just ain't like America. It's a big melting pot over here.

KRON: So I guess there's no other place you'd rather live than America, huh? What about Canada, you seemed to like it up there.

LEE: Wow! You just read my mind. If I was to move someplace else it would probably be Toronto. Toronto would be dope because it's a big ass city that's got a lot of beautiful women. It's close to New York. It's really close to the states, but it's a whole different vibe.

KRON: Alright, hypethetical question. If you had to choose one would you rather be a Backstreet Boy or a top seeded professional Rollerblader?

LEE: I think I'd have to pick the Backstreet Boy.

KRON: Why? (even though I do know why)

LEE: Cause you get money and chicks. The rollerblader, what does he have? He ain't got nothin'. He's just a kook.

KRON: So since you're gonna be in Kronick, the World's Greatest Free Magazine, what would you like the average Hip Hopper to know about Lee Smith the amateur skateboarder.

LEE: Well skating and Hip Hop are very similar. They're both artforms and they're both a form of expresion. In Hip Hop you always gotta come with the dopest, freshest, rhyme style. It's the same thing with skating. You always gotta come with the freshest shit, the hottest shit. I just wanna say they're very similar and that they go hand in hand. No one should knock skating.

KRON: Yesterday when I met you over at USC after you skated, there were a bunch of little kids circulating around you guys. I heard you mutter something about "t-dogs". What exactly is a t-dog?

LEE: A t-dog is like a kook.

KRON: What does the "t" stand for?

LEE: Tard. Short for retard. A retard dog. Jake Vogel made that up. He's a San Francisco local. Back in Embarcadero we had all of us, you know, the crew. And then you had these little fuckin' dudes that came from out of town, and some of them had attitude problems. Some of them would just be retarded and stand in the way when you're trying to do a trick, so we just came up with a name for them: t-dogs. It's been going on for over 10 years now. T-dogs are just t-dogs. But don't get it wrong though, a professional skater can be a t-dog too. And I know a lot of them. It don't matter about your status, it's all about your attitude.

KRON: Would you rather be on Change Of Heart or The Real World?

LEE: Change Of Heart. Hell yeah, I'll be on Change Of Heart. My friend Sam is a Real World fanatic.

KRON: So you know what's up with The Real World?

LEE: A little bit. I just checked out that little drunk girl, the Hawaiian girl. And that other girl with the big tits is always complaining about everything.

KRON: Does it suck down here (in L.A.) without a car?

LEE: Kinda. Just get lots of friends with cars. That's all you gotta do. Look at Keenan (Milton), he's lived out here for maybe 5 years and he never had a car.

KRON: But he still gets around like 2Pac?

LEE: Basically.

KRON: Alright, get your shoutout on.

LEE: I wanna say what's up to the City Stars family, the Axion family, everyone in L.A. that has let me crash on their couches. They know who they are. And I definitely wanna say what's up to my people in Frisco. And I wanna say congratulations to Karl Watson and Shamil Randal on the births of their two sons. I'm really proud of them. And I'd also like to say what's up to Jessica out in New York.