Earlier this month, A-Trak dropped "Ride for Me," an explosive new collaboration with Falcons, Young Thug, and 24hrs. Last night at House of Vans, A-Trak and the Fool's Gold squad premiered the new Eli Morgan Gesner-directed video, which features archive footage of some of New York's most legendary skaters, including the late Harold Hunter, Justin Pierce, Bogdan, Josh Green, and the iconic Zoo York skate team. Fool's Gold even made a donation to the Harold Hunter Foundation, which was started in 2007 to allow kids from New York City to attend skate camps.
When asked about how the "Ride for Me" video project came together, A-Trak said he and Thug, who he's been working with since 2013, recorded the song in Atlanta. "My friend Falcons and I made the beat. Thug came in and dropped this incredible vocal performance where he literally pushes the limit of what the human voice can do. That really wowed me. It took me a little while to figure out how to structure the song and eventually I added 24hrs to round off the ending. 24 really killed it too, I think it’s his best verse."
But how did this turn into an homage to NYC skaters? Trak said it was his idea. "I hit up my friend Eli Morgan Gesner, whom I’ve known for literally 20 years. Eli co-founded Zoo York and Shut, and he’s also an acclaimed director. It just so happens that he was in the middle of digitizing his own video archives from the '90s Downtown NYC skate scene. So he started cutting some of these clips to the song, and Eli had the genius idea of filming Young Thug and 24hrs with the same Hi-8 camera and in the same locations. When he told me that my brain exploded. It’s so post-modern but also so effortless. I just needed to make sure we could get Thug on camera, because this is a guy whose most famous video is about him not showing up for a shoot. But it ended up being so easy!"
Crazy how simple things can be, but for a DJ like A-Trak, who's known to bridge gaps between seemingly-different worlds, it worked perfectly because of the parallels between the scenes, and eras. "I grew up in the '90s underground hip hop scene, where turntablism and skating were like cousins. We were all watching DJ videos, skate videos, graf videos, those subcultures were connected. So I’ve actually wanted to make a skate video for one of my songs for a long time. In 1999 I needed a space in New York to practice for the DMC World Championships and I ended up doing that out of the Zoo York office in the Meatpacking District. That’s how Eli and I became friends in the first place, and that’s where I met Harold."
In the end, A-Trak says "it was a real trip to put Young Thug and 24 side-by-side with these New York kids from 1994. It feels natural though. It’s all street culture. It’s got the same grit and the same fearlessness."
Word is A-Trak has a busy 2018 planned; he's not only back in the studio with Cam'ron, and working with J.I.D, but he's curating a compilation with UK house imprint Defected. Watch the full video for "Ride for Me" up above.