In the late 1980s and early ’90s, long before hypebeasts spent hours waiting for coveted drops outside the Supreme store in SoHo, skaters assembled at a smaller shop on Lafayette Street. There, they would smoke and watch skate videos, listen to music and crack jokes with friends.
“All the Streets Are Silent,” a documentary from the director Jeremy Elkin, is a portrait of that time, capturing the transformative moment when hip-hop and skateboarding culture converged in New York. It draws on archival footage of influential figures like Justin Pierce and Harold Hunter, among dozens of others, and incorporates new interviews with major players like Fab 5 Freddy and Darryl McDaniels, of Run-DMC. Throughout, Elkin explores how racial associations with both subcultures crumbled as their worlds collided.
The film revels in fuzzy, intimate home videos from the period, courtesy of the narrator, Eli Gesner, who spent much of his youth filming the scene on his camcorder. There are shots of skaters dodging traffic at Astor Place or partying at the now defunct hip-hop nexus Club Mars. At one point, a young Jay-Z appears, rapping at lightning speed over a breakbeat. The film immerses us in this world, rendering a loving, tender homage to the city’s street culture before it went global.
Ultimately, “All the Streets Are Silent” has little more to give than nostalgia. An ending that considers the mainstream explosion of these subcultures is ambiguous and offers surface-level analysis. The film excels when it harnesses the wistful thrill of a bygone era, reminding us of a rich, creative past that deserves ample recognition.
All the Streets Are Silent
Not Rated. Running time: 1 hour and 29 minutes. In theaters.
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