Complex | The Neighborhood

Nigel Sylvester Gives Complex A Tour of Queens

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Nigel:

Yo, welcome to my neighborhood. It's your boy Nigel Sylvester. Right now we're in Jamaica, Queens. I'm taking a little trip. A bunch of key moments, the key spots that all added into the BMX craze I call my life now. Right now, we're at my grandma's house. This is where it all started. This is where the big wheeler came into play. That was the first time I ever came in contact with any type of bicycle and I instantly fell in love. It has taken me on one of the wildest journeys ever. I couldn't be more excited about, more happy to share the story with you guys, so let's get it started. Yo, this block was crazy growing up. There were tons of kids and we were all around the same age. Everyone was cool with each other. There were really no beefs out here. We used to play football on this block. Two dudes down here became pro and they grew up on the end of this block too. I love it out here, dude. I come back and I still get a warm feeling in my heart like wow, I spent so much time here growing up, you know? This driveway right here is where I got on my first big wheeler. Yo, Jay, come through, yo.

Jay:

This is right where the banana seat bike was.

Nigel:

Oh, hell yeah.

Jay.

I took Nigel as a baby, I sat him on the bike, and I walked away and I left him there. I look back nowadays like, yo that's crazy.

Nigel:

That's sick.

Jay:

You put somebody's child on a two-wheel bike on a kickstand and leave him there.

Nigel:

I was young too.

Jay:

...and walks away. You were a baby, son. Curly hair, that was your first haircut. I always like to see what little kids can do. I always ask them what they want to be when they grow up and they'll tell me, and I'm like if you focus on that, what you want to do, from an early age, you can do it.

Nigel:

I still have got just glimpses of when we had that big wheeler dude. It was crazy because we set the cones up on the driveway here, dude, and I was on my big wheeler just going in and out of cones, like drifting out of the cones and whatnot dude. It was so crazy. This driveway seemed so big to me back then, dude. It was crazy but now it's just dope man. But that's where it all started, dude. As a child, I spent way more time here than I did home. I would go home and sleep or whatever. Yeah dude, I would be over here all day. Do you know what I mean? This was my home as a child. My mom would drop us off here and we would just be here for days, just hanging out chilling. I didn't even mind.

Jay:

She would come to pick y'all up and you would be like, can we stay longer? Can we stay for a weekend? She'd be like, well y'all have to go home. It's crazy how you were a little one coming up and now you're all grown up. Now, I look at y'all like, yo that's what I want to be. It's a good television show so far.

Nigel:

Oh, hell yeah.

Jay:

And I think that the second chapter will be even better.

Nigel:

It will.

Jay:

But if it was to stop right here, it would be a good story. I would be satisfied with everything that I've seen y'all accomplish.

Nigel:

Yo, what's good boy? What's poppin'? You already know, baby. I got to pull homies real quick, yo. What's good boy? Oh, you already know what's going down, baby. How you feelin' yo? What's the word, baby boy? I'm chillin'. Give me a shout out or

something! Hollywood:

We out here, shakedown in the building. You know it's your boy Hollywood Nate, Haiti. You know what's going on. We out here cooking, VIP. I'm with my man, you know, always cooking man. That nigga been doing tricks on bikes since I've been doing tricks on hoes, you know? Holla at me, boy, we out here.

Nigel:

But yo, I'm going to holla at you baby. All day. Right now, we're on Merrick Boulevard and 228th Street. This is a boulevard that I grew up riding on. I would ride from Lulton Parkway, which is about ten blocks up that way, down to Springfield Boulevard which is about another ten blocks that way, so roughly a mile. But I'd ride it back and forth maybe five, six times in a day. It was significant because I used to ride over these dividers, jump up and down these dividers, bob and weave through traffic. I used to get my bike control together. When I say bike control I'm talking about being comfortable on a bike at high speeds, which is so important. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes you can do tricks and whatnot but can you do your tricks at a certain speed or how comfortable are you on your bike? Growing up for me, I grew up riding with no brakes, so I had to rely on myself to stop the bike on the drop of dime. That's the thing about BMX riding for me, man. I never want to take it for granted, or I've never taken it for granted. I'll always make sure that I have my mind and my body both connected at the same time to make sure that I'm landing on my tricks as comfortable as possible. Keeping it safe, rubber down. That's what was important. Yo, we're still on Merrick Boulevard right now, 233rd and Merrick Boulevard. I want to let you guys in on the neighborhood, local bike shop. But here's the best part: it's the worst bike shop in the world.

Speaker:

Don't ever go there, ever.

Nigel:

Ever. We call this dude Jack the Ripper because as kids, he used to just overcharge us for the worst products, worst service, attitude was horrible.

Nigel:

So, we've got to come give him a shout out for being the worst bike shop in the world. I can definitely say that there were a couple times, intertubes here and there, which was good money but, you know, overall, still Jack the Ripper.

Speaker:

Don't ever go to this bike shop. Ever.

Nigel:

Right now, we're at the Bellow Park. This is a park out here I used to come ride all the time when I was younger. There were no skate parks near me growing up. I had this park right here. We had concrete tables and wooden benches. It was just one of those staples in the neighborhood. You could always come here and see someone who was riding or meet up here. This right here was the foundation, this is where it all started as far as grinding goes, you know?

Adrian:

I'm his older brother. I wasn't too much into BMX but I was into him, so I would support him and help him. You know, cheer him along, push him along, so that's mainly what I did. A lot of the time, I think with Nigel coming up with the BMX, I think it was an outlet. We come from a West Indian household. Not a strict one, but it is one. You know, the typical thing is you go to school, you get out, you get what they call a good job, and you continue going. So I think when Nigel found BMX, it allowed him to express who he really was and find another avenue to do what he loved and what he was learning to love.

Nigel:

My parents were not supportive at all off the bat. It was hard for them to understand, like hold on, you're outside riding a bike. What is this? Are you going to make money with this? Are you going to have a career with this? They didn't understand it at all. In my household, my brother was the only one who really supported me at home.

Adrian:

I remember the first Christmas he wanted a BMX bike and, obviously, at that time he didn't want a GT he was really into the craft. He wanted his own frame to build it. So my parents said, not that they didn't have it, but they didn't see the long term picture of it, so they said, if you want us to get Nigel an X, Y, Z, expensive bike, you have to give up your Christmas gifts. So said, so done. The typical day was Mom was not very supportive of it. It wasn't college, she didn't want to hear anything. I think what changed her mind was the first billboard. We drove by and we said, Mom, look up. I think that was a big changing point for our family, as well as Nigel, but I think bigger for us than for Nigel.

Nigel:

Like Adrian said, I did almost two years of college and dropped out to travel and start riding and taking it real seriously and she wasn't trying to hear that at all. At the time it felt right in my heart. I knew this is what I wanted to. This is where my heart was, where my mind was, so I had to just buckle down and really focus. I was like, this has to work. Like, this wasn't not gonna work. This had to work so I dedicated every waking minute I had to it and with support that I had from my brother and my friends, it did work. Thank you for coming on this ride with me throughout my neighborhood. Jamaica, Queens, we out here, Laurelton. I had a good time. Now, I'm about to get me some Durk Hut, because I'm hungry. One of the Durk spots in Queens. You already know what it is, man. Shout out to Queens. This is your boy Nigel Sylvester. I'm out of here.


For BMXer Nigel Sylvester, it all started in the driveway at his grandma's house in Jamaica, Queens with a set of cones and a red, white, yellow and black big wheel with a giant flag standing tall at the rear.

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