The winds of change
In case you have been living under a rock for the past three years or so, the mid-to-late ’90s is currently skateboarding’s big fixation. Kids are taking inspiration from the most influential skaters of the era like Chad Muska and Josh Kalis and running head-long with it. One of my favourite things from this ’90s revival has got to be the acknowledgement of the shoe brands that were popping at the time, shining a light back onto companies such as DC Shoes and éS Footwear.
It feels as though we have been so bogged down with sportswear companies reigning supreme for the past 15 or so years and it is truly refreshing to see that éS Script logo getting the respect it so rightly deserves once again. We were so hyped to hear the news that the éS Muska was going to be reissued, it just makes total sense! If anyone deserves acknowledgement for what they did during that time, Chad Muska has got be to top of that list.
Why is the Musk OG such a big deal?
When the Muska first dropped in 1997, it was the shoe to have. In fact, it sold out of most shops around the world on its first release, making it one of the most sought-after skate shoes of its time. This was all for a shoe that was the very first to cost over $100 on release. For me, that just proves how big a deal Muska was at the time, he was so popular that he could make the most expensive skate shoe ever released, one of the most purchased and well-loved of its era. I can’t think of a single current pro that could do that today. The only shoe that rivals that nowadays is the Nike SB Dunk, and I’m not convinced at all that the Dunk comes close to the Muska. Even if there weren’t limited releases for the Dunk, I’m certain that they wouldn’t rival the sales numbers of the Muska in the ’90s, not anywhere near.
There are only a handful of skaters that have managed to stay relevant throughout various generations of skateboarders and Chad Muska is comfortably one of those dudes. The only difference between each generation of skaters is their perspective of what/who Chad Muska was/is.
Who is Chad Muska
The first era was the Maple/Toy Machine Muska, an absolute ripper from Ohio, turning up to California and managing to make Jamie Thomas question whether or not he would get the last part in Welcome to Hell in 1996. In the end, Muska did get the prestigious final part, however, being young, dumb and full of rum (probably not rum, but he was very drunk), Muska managed to lose his part in the video by shouting at Ed Templeton and Jamie Thomas when the video was delayed at the premier, drunkenly thinking the video wasn’t being shown that night. Not only did Muska lose his part, but he lost his place on the Toy Machine team too!
Luckily by this point, Muska was already a big name. By 1997 he found himself a home at Shorty’s Skateboards. Originally one of the few truck bolt companies at the time, Shorty’s saw the opportunity to dip their toes into the deck industry by scooping up the then-free-agent Chad Muska and letting him create a team of his own. He put together a group of exceptional individuals that included Peter Smolik, Brandon Turner and Steve Olson… well, we all know how that went… skateboard history was made.
Muska’s Rising Sun boards were everywhere and Fulfill the Dream was being played on every skater’s VCR player until it wore out. This was peak ‘skate’ Muska. He had refined his style and persona to a point where he had become The Muska, transcending being a pro-skater and becoming a ‘celebrity’ skater. It was at this point his shoe was released, so you can see how it sold as well as it did!
Muska’s influence outside of skateboarding
From there on out Muska’s fame slowly shifted from being one of the biggest names in skateboarding to being the pro-skater who parties with Paris Hilton and produces hip-hop tracks with rappers like Guru, Biz Markie and KRS-One to name a few. Honestly, if you’ve never heard the MuskaBeatz album, listen to it, it’s truly mind-blowing who’s featured on it, but that’s the pull Muska had at the time. This is the era of Muska I knew first. He was The Muska, driving the Chadillac Muskalade on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games and just generally being the most dope skater around. From there on out, Muska managed to stay in the eyes of skaters with his art, occasional skate clip and maybe a few TMZ headlines.
This reissue of the éS Muska OG is the perfect way to remind everyone, especially from a later generation, who Chad Muska was before all of the fame, money and other distractions. I’ve got to say, I love all eras of Muska, there is something so authentic about how he has lived his life, literally doing whatever he wants to do without worrying what others think and setting trends along the way. But it does often mean his skating can get overlooked.
When this shoe was first released in 1997, it was one of the most technical shoes on the market, maybe even the most technical. For the reissue, éS has run with the exact same mindset, maintaining all of the features skaters loved in ’97, such as the infamous stash pocket in the tongue and the high-quality materials used throughout. They’ve not stopped there though, éS have brought the shoe up to date with today’s technology too. Along with the premium action nubuck panelling and moulded-rubber lace-protecting loops, éS have used a 400 NBS rubber cupsole unit for fantastic durability and impact protection, a moulded PU cage for support and have also added a really nice lace toggle giving the shoe a subtle little upgrade.
It’s funny in a way, when Chad Muska was at his absolute peak all the kids were dressing like him, mimicking every single thing about him. There is a bottomless pit of footage showing exactly this, kids literally chasing the Muska down the street begging for signatures. There is footage of Ryan Gee sitting beside a van looking like he has just got back from a battleground, telling the camera that he just witnessed 200 kids chasing Muska down the street for a signature. Over 20 years later, here we are, Muska is once again selling one of the most expensive skate shoes on the market and all the kids are dressing like him again! You can’t call this style timeless as let’s face it, it isn’t, but when the wheel of fashion brings the baggy look back around, Muska will be sitting at the top where he belongs.