Philadelphia’s Love Park is dead, and there’s no bringing it back now.
With nowhere else to go, a new crop of skaters has taken shelter across the street at the Municipal Services Building instead, which they refer to as Muni. Here you can find the likes of Jahmir Brown, Kevin Bilyeu, and other rising stars keeping plaza skating alive in the city that first perfected it.
Among that crew is Kris Brown, who can be found at Muni on any given day stringing together lines across the plaza’s tall ledges, crusty benches, and dented trash cans. Like a lot of other Philly heads, he considers Muni his home, and it’s been a major catalyst for his career, which feels like it’s about to hit the masses.
His output has been relatively quiet up until now, but with the holy trinity of hype (Supreme, FA, and Adidas) behind him, don’t be surprised when they start turning the switches on.
I see you’ve got a watch. Are you a watch guy?
I’m not. My homie Graham got this jawn cause he watched a Fred Gall clip where he was skating in blue jeans and he has a G-Shock on at Muni and ollies over the 4-stair rail. He was all hyped on it and got the watch. I think when he bought it, he wore the fit. Blue jeans and a T-shirt. I got this one cause it’s just swaggy. It looks lit in clips.
Do you think your friend will do tricks on drugs like Fred Gall too?
Oh, no [laughs].
Was there any of that around you growing up?
There were kids smoking weed and drinking but nothing crazy. I grew up in Abington, which is like a suburb, so there’s not shit to do there. There’s mad people I went to school with—and no offense to them, they’re still the homies—but they don’t really do anything. There’s nothing to do in the suburbs but get high. When I was in high school kids started getting into dabs, that was the craziest thing. Now that I graduated it’s crazy how many people do coke and shit. It’s normal. That drug, it’s like, why would you ever do it?
I used to smoke a bunch when I was a young bull but then I stopped because I was getting burnt out. I’ve never been a drug person. I don’t have anything against weed. Mad homies smoke weed. But it just comes down to what you’re productive with.
As one of the main Muni locals, you got any crazy stories about what you’ve seen there?
Oh my god bro. In the summer of 2017, there were a bunch of tookie heads, a lot of them were homeless but some of them would just go downtown to smoke K2. They were all there just smoking tookie all day, it was disgusting.
One time this jawn had her kids out with her, and she was fucking some dude in a chair behind the building with her kids running around them. Like, playing around them. That was the most fucked up thing I’ve seen there. Bro, she was riding him in the chair and her kids were running around playing games. I didn’t even know what to think, I was tripping. That was a fucked up summer.
Do you think that Philly is underrepresented right now?
Yeah, I mean I feel like Philly has been like that for a while. There are so many homies that I skate with who haven’t gotten the love they deserve. They’re beasts. But I think it’s starting to change now. When I was coming up there was no hope of getting on any sponsors. There was no formula. Maybe you could get hooked up by DC or maybe adidas, but no board companies. So when I got flowed by Fucking Awesome it was crazy. That wasn’t even a part of my thought process.
“One time this jawn had her kids out with her, and she was fucking some dude in a chair behind the building with her kids running around them.”
How did adidas and Fucking Awesome find you?
It started happening four years ago. I was skating a bunch and filming a bunch and I guess Chris Mulhern [videographer] noticed. I didn’t really know him at the time but he posted me on Instagram and I did a couple of tricks that I guess he got hyped on, so he started hooking me up with adidas. And I met Bill [Strobeck] when he was filming Blessed. He came to Philly with Tyshawn [Jones] and he did the switch back 3 on the bump to can. I guess he liked me. He was like “Yo, I hit up the homie [Jared] Sherbert and I think we’re going to get you boards.” 2017 was crazy. Mulhern and Bill held it down. Mulhern probably doesn’t think anything of it. It’s whatever for him but it means a lot to me.
Would you ever bring a date to Muni?
Nah, I try not to. I met a couple of girls there though. I met some girl that I ended up dating there. We kicked it there like one time. If she’s like my girl, my girl, maybe I’ll like, walk through there and say what’s up, but like, nah…
I know you’re influenced by legends like Mike Tyson and Dennis Rodman. Why do you think so many people around your age are obsessed with the ’90s?
Because everything now is wack. Everything now is corny and it used to be authentic. Now it’s all forced. That was the most authentic era, to me at least. But everything older I see looks so cool and refreshing. I was born in 2000, so I kinda missed it. I look at old pictures of my mom or my dad all fitted out and imagine I was in the ’90s going to see a Tyson fight or to see Menace II Society in theaters. Pretty much all of my inspiration was from that era.
Who’s the Michael Jordan or the Mike Tyson of skateboarding?
Ishod [Wair]! He’s the only skater to me that’s overall like a GOAT. I don’t even mean to suck him or nothing, but I feel like Ishod just stands out the most because he is good at skating everything. Tyshawn is definitely up there too. His pop is unachievable for me. Maybe like Gonz or some shit, too.
You moved around PA a lot growing up. How come?
My mom pretty much raised me and my three sisters. My dad was around when I was younger but he dipped out when I was maybe nine or 10. We moved around a lot because my mom was trying to figure it out. When she had my younger sister we moved to South Carolina because she joined the army. Just moving around ’til my mom figured it out.
Have you been in contact with your dad over the last few years?
Nah, not really. I just don’t talk to him out of respect for my mom. My older sister kept a relationship with him and it made my mom upset because she felt like he didn’t deserve it, so I just stayed away.
Do you hold any anger towards your dad for not being around?
Nah, I don’t really care. He was around when I was younger and it was cool. I feel like I had some confidence issues when I was younger because I didn’t have my dad there to reassure me about things that you can’t talk about with your mom. Some things your mom just can’t do for you. I always looked up to older people. So I feel like they did a good job of helping me out with stuff like that. I’m damn near a grown man now and I did pretty good already.
Before skating started popping off, what were you doing to supplement your income?
I just started getting paid to skate literally in January . Before that, I was working at Five Below. Kinda like a dollar store but everything is five dollars or less. I was just stocking shelves mostly. I worked the overnight shift, I would go in at like 5 AM and work until like 1 PM. I was making no money. It was $8 an hour but then right before I quit they gave me a raise to $10 an hour but I quit anyway. That shit was ass. Then I was hustling boards and shoes. It was very skimpy money until recently when I just started getting paid, so it’s been a long time coming.
I used to sit in the bathroom for like 15 minutes on my phone at my old job to help pass the time.
I don’t want to do that because I don’t want people to think I’m taking a shit [laughs]. Like I shouldn’t care about that, but I do. And every time I see someone go to the bathroom, I’m like “Yeah, he just took a mean shit” [laughs]. Probably because I’m judging people by it, I’m thinking people are judging me by it.
“He made me read this book, Rich Dad Poor Dad. You’ve probably heard about it.
It just opened my eyes to money literacy.”
Did you finish high school? What sort of student were you?
Yeah, I did. I was chill, I flew under the radar. Mad days I would go to first and second period, dip out, chill at the crib, and then go to the skatepark or the city. But I kept good enough grades to pass. My GPA was like a 2.77, I think. I don’t think I’ve done homework since elementary school. So that’s good for not doing homework ever. I finessed a diploma.
Was there a teacher you really liked and would want to kick it with now?
Only one. He was my math teacher, he made me read this book, Rich Dad Poor Dad. You’ve probably heard about it. But it just opened my eyes to money literacy. Nobody else ever told me how money works. No other teacher was gonna do that. Nobody else really cared. They’re just going to program you to go work.
What if skate brands offered a support system for their skaters? Like, if you could hit up someone at one of your sponsors and they had a tax or career guy to help you if you ever needed advice.
That would be gas, what the fuck? It should be like that. I feel like skaters, now that I’m meeting more that are getting paid, a lot of them have accountants and dudes who do that for them. That would be beast if the companies that you’re getting paid by help you with it automatically. I feel like these big companies could afford it, they could probably use it as a tax write-off, paying for your rider’s health insurance. That’s bread.
Are you good at dancing?
Dancing? Nah. I might get sauced and do a little bit now. But I never really used to do it. I could hit some shit maybe.
We gotta learn to dance. I never used to dance but then one girl told me, “If you dance well, you can fuck well,” so I was like, alright I should probably learn to dance.
[Laughs] Yeah, like now I go out and go to functions and shit and if you dance to some jawns it’s easy. Yeah, I need to learn how to dance, dance. I might start watching some YouTube videos.
But you know how to club dance right? You just go and grind and do whatever.
Yeah, I can if I’m sauced. My cousin used to throw these poppin’ parties back when I was a young, young bull. It was like some Philly shit. You’d pay a dollar to get in and then you’d go to the basement and it was all people the same age. You’d dance for a while and get some wallies. You know what that is?
A dude stands up against the wall and shorties and come up and dance on you. You dance with them and shit too. Shit is different down here.
They don’t really do them anymore. It was when I was younger, there were these bulls called Dollar Boys. They’ve got some shit like that in New York. Like the Harlem Shake was like the New York thing, I can’t explain it. Every city has their own dance. Shit like that.
Who are some current skaters with top fits?
There’s so many. I feel like everybody is on their own fit shit right now. Off the top, Caleb [Barnett], Lucien [Clarke]… Fuck, I can’t really think of any right now. I don’t really get my fit inspiration from skaters. Can I do old skaters?
For sure, Keenan Milton. He is probably my biggest fit inspiration. Kareem Campbell. I low-key like Mike Carrol fits. Marcus McBride. People sleep on him but he’s swaggy. Kalis had some fits too, low-key.
I watch a lot of old Chocolate videos with Pier 7 clips and Keenan’s fits always stuck out. My favorite line and favorite fit from him is Chocolate Tour or Mouse he does a switch pop shuv, and then he does switch crook, just swagging. He had a flannel on.
What’s one of your favorite edits?
Check out Bill [Strobeck]’s edit. It’s called “Bill’s Childhood Friend Edit.” It’s my favorite edit. The song is so good. It goes from Ozzy Osbourne to some jazz song. It has the best Love clips in it.
What sorts of changes would you like to see in the world?
Fuck, there’s a lot that needs to be changed. But also, I don’t really see a way of changing a lot of it. The main thing would be the education of black people. There’s a lot of people I know that don’t know some shit I do that seems like it would be common knowledge, but it’s not. As African Americans, we’re trained to not know certain things, trained to be kind of dumb and dismissive. I feel like there’s a lot of things that need to be taught to black people so we can start uplifting each other and not be exploited and taken advantage of, cause it seems like things are a lot better nowadays but at the end of the day, racism is still just as bad.
It’s just more low-key and black people are still being exploited as they were back in the day. We’re just too distracted to realize. It just hits home because I see my people dying over some dumb shit. Being too ignorant to realize that we should try to help each other and it would be a start to a lot of other changes in the world. Why not start with my own people?
“Learning how money works isn’t even accessible for the typical black household.”
How specifically could we help the black community?
One is money literacy. Educating my people on how money works. Money literacy is taught through your family and that’s how the rich continue to get richer and the poor stay poor. Learning how money works isn’t even accessible for the typical black household. I wouldn’t know shit if it weren’t for the people I have met being good examples for me and for my teacher putting me onto that book [Rich Dad Poor Dad]. We just learn to get a job and work for a living. Most people don’t even know what to do with their money, they just think, “get a good job so you can buy a house.” It’s almost like modern-day slavery. If black people start learning money literacy, we can uplift our communities by investing in each other.
I know you watch a lot of anime, so what are some shows I should watch to start getting into it?”
I’d probably say Hunter x Hunter. It’s pretty mellow. It’s pretty easy to watch or Death Note. That was my first one I think. It’s on Netflix and it’s kinda wild. That shit hooks you pretty good.
What do anime heads think of Dragon Ball Z? Poser shit?
Nah, Dragon Ball Z is fire. It’s super mainstream so people don’t talk about it as much. It doesn’t need to be talked about as much. But it’s fire. Gas. Good story, good writing, it’s action.
If you weren’t on FA would you skate the Primitive Dragon Ball Z decks?
Never. I like the concept of it, but fuck no. That shiny graphic shit? Nasty [laughs]. You see that and you just think Zumiez. I feel like that’s a Walmart board.