Keelan Dadd is a skater’s skater. Since coming onto the scene, the Inglewood, CA native distinguished himself by way of his big bag of tricks and clean style. Keelan is just as likely to throw a switch double heelflip mid-line as he is to 5-0 handrail — and he might just toss in a pressure flip for good measure. Over the years, he’s gone from a kid with a couple of tricks in Stevie Williams’ part in Kayo’s It’s Official to a pro with some solid sections of his own under his belt, a switch game few can match, and sponsorships from DGK, Supra, and Mountain Dew. These are Keelan’s top 10 career highlights.
Written by: Lucas Wisenthal
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TAGS// INTERROGATED KEELAN DADD
There is an air of confidence about Keelan Dadd that shouldn’t be mistaken for excessive pride. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself who will? Defining himself from within, Keelan seeks change from the present. We recently spoke to the Prince of Ratchet about forming an unlikely friendship with Stevie Williams, the pressures of filming for Parental Advisory, and of course DGK’s newfound membership in the United Nations. Enjoy –
Interview by Stephen Cox
Photos by Yoon Sul
Tell us about your life growing up and how you started skating.
I’m from Inglewood, California. I’ve always been into all types of sports. I liked playing football, basketball, and baseball. I was always just running round wanting to do stuff and my uncle had a friend that used to skateboard and I used to watch him. That’s a long time ago… the Tony Hawk days. I was messing with the skateboard a little bit and then this one time I saw some kids in the parking lot skating around. I went over, tried it, and then pretty much just started messing with those kids everyday.
Was there a particular point when you realized you that wouldn’t stop?
That day. Before then I was trying to mess with it a little bit. Trying to roll, trying to pop the board but it was just that one day. There was probably like fifteen kids together. I just went over there, I saw them jumping on little wall gaps and I tried it. They said “do you want to go skate with us?” and I just skated around the town that whole day. I thought it was pretty dope and I figured I was going to be messing with it for a little while. I’ve been skating ever since.
Do you remember your first board?
That was another thing. There was this dude that lived on my block who had a board and I always used to go to his house. Eventually he said I could have it because he didn’t even use it. It was a Think skateboard with Ventures and World Industries wheels. I remember they were orange Flameboy wheels.
I understand you have Jamaican roots.
Yeah, my father is Jamaican. I went to Jamaica when I was younger. I was about seven or eight. I went out there with my father and my sister to visit my family. I have a lot of family out there. It’s pretty crazy out there too.
Can you tell us about the days of the Karl Watson hook up?
That was through a friend who goes by the name of Brandon Dubose. He started filming me and I was skating a lot. It was my homeboy Marquis Preston and I, he went to the Pharmacy house in Victorville and Brandon was filming Watson at the time. I met him and asked him to give my footage to Stevie and he was like “yeah, yeah, I’ll give it to him. I liked how you skated over there”. We only really went skating that once and it was that one perfect moment, being at the right place at the right time. He gave my footage to Stevie and then Stevie hit me up in the next day or two. It was like a dream come true.
You were a big fan of Stevie as well back then.
Stevie was one of the dudes I really first recognized and could relate to. I was that little kid with baggy clothes and a little chain just doing what I wanted to do. I liked what he was doing. I didn’t really know too much about him. People would hit me up on him as I was going and then once I understood skateboarding more, I was like “damn, Stevie’s tight as shit”. It was dope. Stevie is one of my favorite skaters.
I watched his part in The DC Video the other day.
Yeah, that shit was tight. That was one of the parts that really made me start liking him. That was when I started. I didn’t really understand skateboarding, and then eventually I was like, “Damn”. That whole video was crazy. I’ve watched that video so many times. But that part is still my favorite part to this day.
What about the transition of inspiration to friendship with Stevie?
That shit is a blessing. To actually look up to him, be part of a team and then to build a relationship to a personal level…Stevie’s been a mentor all my life. It’s dope. To know that I have Stevie backing me is a real good feeling, to have him on my side.
Congratulations on going pro. What responsibilities do have now that you didn’t have before?
Thanks. I appreciate that. I would say that now – in terms of my career – I really make my own decisions. The decisions I make stick with me for the next couple of years so I have to make sure I make the right ones. I’m at the point in my life now where I have to know what I’m going to do or it might not work out the right way.
What takes up your time on a day-to-day basis?
Just making sure the little things are together with my house. I have a son. I have to make sure he’s always good for anything. Apart from my son, just making sure I am communicating with the companies, making sure I’m doing everything that they need. My career is pretty much all my time, I don’t do too much else.
How was the going pro party?
The Game performed a couple of songs. Chris Brown was there. It was tight. It was a good turn-out. My friends and family were there. The Game supposedly drank a full bottle of Patron. A lot of people say that it didn’t happen, some people say that it did. I don’t really know [laughs].
How has skateboarding changed since you started?
The Internet has changed everything. You can show exactly what you want to. I wasn’t in the game before the way I am now. I’m really looking at the change from beyond now.
Are you a big fan of skate videos?
Skate videos are dope. The skate video formation has changed as far as quality and cameras go. Old-school videos were tight: they used to be longer and would give you a vibe. But now I like the new, crispy look of skateboarding. Now, skateboarding is more like a lifestyle. You can see exactly what is going on with skaters. It’s one-on-one now. You can put something out on a channel and it’ll get thousands of views. With VX, it’s different. It’s easier now.
Do you remember the first time you visited The Berrics?
I’m not really too sure about the first time. But one time I went I wasn’t even able to get in. It was like “we better make some calls and see if we can get in here”. When I first got into The Berrics, it was crazy. It’s intense. You’re like “damn, I’ve got to be fuckin’ on my game with everyone looking at me… Why am I here?”
What do you think that The Berrics contributes to skateboarding?
They allow street skateboarders to be comfortable. It gives a lot of kids out there a chance to master their work, then go out to the streets and put it together. Other than that, it’s good for promotion and promoting yourself. It’s good to be there because all the kids are there. The Berrics is cool, all types of stuff to knock out. I love The Berrics.
Tell us about filming the United Nations.
Yeah we were all doing it a little while ago. We were there fuckin’ day after day after day just trying to bang it out. It’s a good turn-out. Everyone killed it. It was good to have the team at The Berrics.
Let’s talk about “Parental Advisory”. How much time went into your part?
The opening line was at least three years ago. That line was from my first time going to Atlanta, which was probably about three years ago. Damn.
How did you initially approach it?
At first I was just filming, skating, and trying to practice getting better. Then they hit us with the video coming up. I was like “damn”. Those trips were intense. It got pushed back for a little while; it was like, “Alright, I’ve got a little more time so I really need to do what I’ve got to do”. That part was intense! Then, being in the position of trying to get a board. I was trying to do as much as I could to show what I could do. I put a lot of time into that part and did the best I could with the time I had.
It must have felt good to finish up.
Getting my last trick was like the best feeling ever, “I’m done”. It was like breakfast after sex [laughs]. It was sick. It was a good feeling. I was struggling at the spot trying to get the last trick. The last try at the end of the day when we were getting kicked out, I landed it. It was that feeling.
The switch flip 5-0?
No actually, one of the last tricks I filmed was the switch frontside flip over the rail into the bank.
The acting skits in between the part were great. How much input did you guys have?
They kind of had it mapped out and tried to show everybody. It was pretty set up but we all put our own character to it and our voice was heard. We just banged it out when we were directed. It was like a movie set.
What are you filming for right now?
Right now, I’m working on a couple of commercials but a Transworld part is up in the air. It might be going down early next year.
What’s it like being on the Supra team?
It’s dope. A lot of legends like Chad Muska and Greco. To be a part of that is amazing. My boy Boo is over there, I’ve known him for a long time. Stevie’s there. It’s a dope family. We do a lot of international traveling. Supra is the shit, and you’ve got Wayne.
How is traveling with the team?
Traveling is dope. Last year we went everywhere: Europe, Hong Kong… Traveling with them is always the best.
How was Hong Kong?
It was cranked up. It was pretty crazy out there. No, Philippines was crazy. Hong Kong was a little better. We didn’t really get to do too much besides what we were supposed to be doing but that’s a good thing. It’s pretty dope out there; there were big malls that we hit up. It was dope to be out there because they don’t get a lot of traffic. They appreciate people when they come out.
When are you going to get a signature shoe?
I don’t know man, hopefully soon. That would be dope.
What do you look for in a skate shoe?
It has to comfortable; the shoe has to be able to take impact. I like shoes that look good, different colorways. I like Stevie’s shoe, Ellington’s and “The Hammer”, which is Greco’s shoe. They are the shoes I’ve been skating. All those shoes mixed up would be great.
You seem to really mix up things with your skating. Who influences your trick selection?
It’s pretty random. I always try to learn new tricks each time I go and skate. I keep at a trick until I really figure out how to do it. The selections that I go with, I just mix it up every time. I don’t really look at anybody to get my tricks from. It’s pretty much on my own. I do my own thing.
Where did the nickname Switch God come from?
[Laughs] The heavens above. Nah, I feel like I’m not bad at this switch stuff, you know?
How was the SXSW trip?
Pretty cool. I went out there with Mountain Dew. A lot of musicians come together and do their thing. I saw Joey Badass and Earl Sweatshirt. It was pretty dope out there. They had a skatepark, so we did some stuff with The Berrics. It’s a good time. That was my second year going. They set us up with a four-story house. Some girl with a big booty was trying to get up in it [laughs].
You must get to do a lot of stuff with the Dew team.
We’ve been to a couple of different states together. There was a Barcelona trip a while back but I wasn’t able to make it. There’s lot’s of stuff coming up for the Dew squad: dew Tour SF, commercials.
What is it like being on the team?
I like being on Mountain Dew because they help bring people from different worlds to see what real stagers are.
You seem to have a very positive attitude.
Everyone should be positive. Do what you feel is right; whatever is best for you and those who are around you. Make sure you make decisions on your own at the end of the day. Have fun, you can’t do something and be mad the whole time. Do what you want to do and don’t get too caught up on whatever isn’t right.
Can you apply that attitude to the increasing lack of spots due to skate stopping?
My friend and me were just driving down the street and it’s happening to more spots. It sucks because it makes kids become skatepark kids. It’s not completely a bad thing because they are amazing at skating. It just takes that rawness away. We just have to do what we have to do.
You interact with your fans a lot as well.
Nothing too crazy. I just mess with them. I just try and keep it regular with them so they don’t think I don’t want to talk to them. I treat them like my friends and try to contact them every day.
What are your plans for your website?
I want to put more of my day-to-day skating. It would be good to give kids more of what goes on beyond trips. I want to interact more.
Let’s finish up with an explanation of “The Prince of Ratchet”.
I do it for the ratchets. You can never discriminate on them. I’m with this Ratchet stuff. I’m in a position where I don’t have to be, but I still am. I’ll be the prince of that.