The Fresh Prince of New Jersey
When BMX became just a little too predictable, Scotty Cranmer made a rap video
In the beginning of "Panty Droppin," a rap video starring two time X Games gold medalist Scotty Cranmer and riding cohort Ronnie Surridge, Cranmer attempts to film a difficult line at The Incline Club, a skate park owned by his parents, Scott and Donna Cranmer, in Toms River, N.J. Amid filming, Cranmer blasts off the back of his bike on a 540 fly-out gone wrong, limps his way over to Surridge and attempts to catch his breath. Frustrated, the 23-year-old Cranmer wonders aloud, "Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if we did something different, like if we were rappers or something."
From there, the video transitions into Cranmer's imagined lifestyle change. Under strobe lights, Cranmer and Surridge stand, adorned in all-white outfits while silhouetted women dance provocatively in the background. The basic premise of the song is simple: Cranmer and Surridge drink Monster Energy Drinks as they pilot a Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R throughout the central Jersey area. While the duo searches for gentlemen's clubs and counts out dollar bills, they rap about "popping," "hopping" and "dropping."
As a two-time X Games gold medalist in BMX Park, the song and accompanying video is an unexpected addition to an already long list of accomplishments for Cranmer. One that begs the question: what exactly was he thinking?
"I was driving around in the back of Cory Muth's minivan, and the radio kept playing the same bad rap songs. I thought, I could do this," Cranmer said. "I came up with the lyrics in an hour or so, then found a beat, and soon enough, I had a song done,"
"We wanted to make people laugh," Surridge said.
Cranmer grew up listening to emocore bands such as Saves the Day and The Get Up Kids, and he said he doesn't usually listen to rap music. But he's quick to point out why, in his opinion, stepping outside the norm of expectations is needed in current day BMX scene.
"I was just tired of the same old thing in BMX: make a Web video, put it out, then do the same thing over again," he said. "For me, when I was younger, I was always psyched when pros did different things to show off the funnier side of BMX. That hasn't happened lately, and I wanted to do try to do something funny."
While on a trip to do Vans demos in Guam, Cranmer shared the song with videographer Justin Kosman, who listened to the song and immediately told Scotty, "We need to make a video out of this."
Kosman flew to Cranmer's home in Jackson, N.J., and the video was filmed in a few days.
"It was four days of laughing nonstop," Surridge said. "One of the girls even snapped the pole."
On June 3, Kosman posted the finished product to YouTube. According to Cranmer, the reaction was instantaneous.
"The reaction was great," he said. "Everywhere I go, people seem to want to talk about it. Even my dad, at first he didn't seem to get it, but after a few minutes, he was laughing out loud."
To date, "Panty Droppin" has received more than 15,000 plays on YouTube.
Born in Freehold, N.J., in 1987, Cranmer was raised in Jackson from an early age. At the age of 8, Cranmer was introduced to BMX racing but ultimately turned to skate park riding. When Cranmer turned 13, his parents opened The Incline Club in nearby Toms River, and Cranmer's skills quickly progressed in a short period of time. Cranmer began entering BMX park competitions as an amateur and was pushed to turn pro shortly after. In Cranmer's first pro contest, he qualified first and placed ninth in the finals. Barely a month later, in April 2003, Cranmer won the UGP Roots Jam in Orlando, Fla. He was 16 years old.
By the time Scotty Cranmer was 19, he had won a gold medal at X Games 12, boasted a healthy list of sponsors and had acquired a long line of first- and second-place finishes in Dew Tours, Vans Triple Crowns and LG Action Sports Tours. Cranmer's path of destruction, dominated by huge tail-whip drops, progressive front-flip variations and tech park combinations, seemed unstoppable, returning to X Games 13 to grab a silver medal along with more first-place finishes at the '07 Dew Tour. Then, in 2008, Cranmer broke his foot and missed the entire competition season. The injury plagued Cranmer both mentally and physically, but he eventually overcame it and returned to win X Games gold in '09.
These days, Cranmer has returned to his "old" ways. He is riding full time, learning new tricks and touring in support of the brands that sponsor him (which includes Felt Bikes, Fox Racing, Vans, Monster Energy, Verizon Wireless, Pro-Tec, DUO and Staff Mailorder.) He's also making rap videos in his spare time, but he has no aspirations to hang up the bike in exchange for a career in the world of rap music. He won't even consider riding to the song at any contests in the future.
For me, that would be like wearing the T-shirt of the band you're going to see play.
"For me, that would be like wearing the T-shirt of the band you're going to see play," he said.
Surridge has expressed interest in using the song at the Dew Tour.
"Even though there are haters out there who have to take everything serious, there will be another video in the mix coming soon," he said.
Look for Cranmer to be back on the BMX Park course at X Games 16. He won't be riding to "Panty Droppin" during his runs but will quietly search for new ways to inject fun and spontaneity into the BMX scene.
And if Surridge has his way, look for another video from the duo in the near future.
Follow Brian Tunney on Twitter: @briantunney