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SALT LAKE CITY — Famous skateboarder Tony Hawk finally responded Friday to the viral "nah he tweakin" super-meme with rapper Lil Nas X over Hawk's recently sold out blood-infused skateboards.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Vans street course in Salt Lake City, Hawk told KSL.com that his idea of infusing a product with actual blood came from the rock band Kiss, not the rapper.
If you're baffled by the phrase "nah he tweakin" popping up in every Instagram comments section, you are not alone. The massively popular phrase stems from a "feud" between rapper Lil Nas X and Tony Hawk.
Earlier this year, Lil Nas X famously collaborated with MSCHF, an art collective in Brooklyn, to release 'Satan' Air Max 97 shoes with a drop of human blood in the sole, 666 on the side and a pentagram at the top. He wore the shoes in his viral music video for "Montero (Call Me by Your Name)" in which he slides down a pole to hell and dances with the devil, sparking a huge controversy with critics saying he was promoting devil worship.
The shoes sold out in under a minute, but they sparked a lawsuit from Nike and were later recalled as part of a settlement agreement.
So when the Instagram page @rap posted that Hawk was selling skateboards painted with his own blood without a similar controversial reaction, the rapper commented saying "nah he tweakin," essentially meaning "he's crazy" or "he doesn't make sense."
Hawk's brand Birdhouse collaborated with Liquid Death, a canned water company with the tagline "Murder Your Thirst," to collect two vials of his blood, which was mixed into paint for limited-edition boards. The 100 Hawk Blood Deck boards sold out in 20 minutes for $500 each. And 10 percent of the profits will go toward reducing plastic pollution and the Skatepark Project, Hawks' nonprofit that builds skate parks in underserved communities.
"It's a gimmick, obviously, but we did raise money for the Skatepark Project, so that was what was important to me," Hawk said.
Fans of Lil Nas X, whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill, have claimed that Hawk was copying the rapper. And Lil Nas X's "nah he tweakin" comment has become a viral trend, garnering over 110,000 likes on Instagram and 11 million public interactions on Instagram, according to data from Crowdtangle.
"Now Tony Hawk has released skateboards with his blood painted on them, and there was no public outrage," Lil Nas X tweeted, pointing out the difference in public reaction.
Hawk had yet to make a public response until Friday at the ribbon-cutting of a brand-new Vans street course in Salt Lake City, just before his first Vert Alert Skate Event.
"I understand his perspective, and I respect it. Yeah, obviously there's a disparity there, but I think the issue with him more was that there was a copyright infringement, from what I understand. But by no means was I trying to capitalize on his success or even copy him. My whole thing was Kiss," Hawk told KSL.com.
"For me, it came from Kiss. Kiss did a thing in the '70s where they put their blood into ink used in a comic book, and I was a Kiss fan. I was alive when it came out. I wanted one so badly, but they were obviously snatched up. So when Liquid Death asked me about doing a collaboration, I thought about that, and thought, 'Well, I've given enough blood in skateboarding, why not just add some to the paint?'" Hawk said.
The new street course, next to Vans' park course at the Utah State Fairpark that hosted the 2019 World Championship series for men and women, was created with feedback from over 700 members of the skate community through an online questionnaire. Vans, the Utah Sports Commission and California Skatepark gathered local community leaders and general members of the public for a town hall, in which they worked to ensure the course met the community's needs. It includes elements such as rails, boxes, stairs and quarter ramps.
"For the park series specifically, we've built five parks around the world. We've had a lot of great partners around the world, but the partnership that was shared with the Utah Sports Commission was very unique with the vision that Jeff Robbins and his team has brought," said Bobby Gascon, Vans' senior director global marketing for action sports. He added that Robbins, president of the Utah Sports Commission, is "already at the forefront of bringing the best street skateboarders in the world to showcase at the facility that was provided."
Salt Lake City is a hub for skateboarders in part because of the popularity of snowboarding in the area, as well as the fact that many Vans athletes live nearby, Gascon said, and he's hopeful that this Street Series will really show the world what a global destination Salt Lake City is for skateboarding and bring in skate tourists from all over the world.
"I'm excited to see what this (development) is going to bring for the future. We know it's in good hands. We've just begun scratching the surface of what this could be," he said.