Mall Grab is an Australian producer. His name is a nod to a disparaging joke in skateboarding. A “mall grab” is when you hold a skateboard by its trucks (axels). If you actually skateboard, this is a cardinal sin. On a functional level, it’s criticizing a dumb thing. If you hold a board that way, the angle of the upper edges of the board will scrape the griptape on your thighs and mess up your pants.
It’s also a more subtle gatekeeping thing. It’s a part of an unwritten code that delineates between posers and people in the community that includes a bunch of other rules. Wearing jogger pants is also illegal in the skate world. Tight pants or tight clothes at all are extremely suspicious, which is a full reversal from maybe 15 years ago when baggy pants were for swagless losers. Some people get passes for tight pants if they cut off the parts near their ankles. There is no explanation for why this is the case. During the skinny era, Tom Penny got one of the few baggy passes, which is justified because he’s very good and everyone likes him.
The zeitgeist for pants tightnesses ping pongs back and forth like this, and has since skateboarding got big in the 90s, and maybe even before. Instead of just accepting it as a normal fashion trend process, skaters like to lie about it and say it’s a functional thing. “[Baggy pants are] easier to skate in than tight pants because with tight pants you can’t, like, test yourself when you do tricks,” some then 14-year-old kid named Zavier Corby told the LA Times in 1993.
When tight pants came back in vogue, they were stretchy, kind of like leggings, and people started saying that they didn’t get in the way like baggy pants and were actually easier to skate in.
Someone has to be lying. My guess is that it’s the tight pants people, but maybe that’s just because of the moment we’re in. I would have told you the baggy pants people were lying when I was 16, wearing my Corey Duffel signature Split skinny black jeans (mine weren’t quite this tight) around my suburban Texas high school.
Skaters are generally just weird about pants. They’ve only become comfortable wearing shorts recently. I wish they had reached this consensus earlier when I was a 13-year-old skating in July, Houston heat, wearing a layer of sweat inside my jeans.
Mall grabs are a serious business though. I’ve seen people tweet only semi-ironically about having a nightmare about mall grabbing and then getting roasted. There are memes about skaters hanging off the edge of cliffs, who would rather die, then grab their friend’s truck who’s trying to pull them up, because that would technically be a mall grab. And if you mall grab with a longboard, that’s grounds for euthanasia.
Mall grab is an actual skater as well as a DJ. He makes fun, lofi house music and other types of techno. He’s also still involved in skating, putting on a Boiler Room set to help raise money for maintaining the legendary Southbank Skatepark in London. He also did a mix for the skate publication Jenkem last year. So don’t worry, no posers allowed on Balenciaga Beats. Real shit only.
He’s been prolific during the quarantine. Late last month he came out with a new nearly two-hour-long compilation album and did a set for Boiler Rooms Streaming From Isolation, check out both below.
Boiler Room Streaming From Isolation - 1 hour, YouTube
Boiler Room in support of the Southbank Skatepark - 1 hour, YouTube
P.S. sorry this is late. I was busy with my actual job, which my bosses will be happy to know comes before this newsletter.
ALSO, shootouts to my friend Mark Stenberg’s new media newsletter, Medialyte, which shouted out this newsletter and featured a Q&A with me last Friday.
Southbank Skatepark from Vice.