In many mainstream sports there are athletes who retire and there are those who return to the game. In skateboarding it's a little different. Though there have been instances where a skater has fallen off and then made a comeback once he got his act back together, skaters usually don't officially "retire" -- and if they do, they certainly don't do it at the peak of their abilities. But that's exactly what Jereme Rogers did in June 2009 when he published an announcement in The Skateboard Mag, saying goodbye to his sponsors and pledging to pursue his passion for rap. With that, he walked away from skateboarding, supposedly forever.
Times change. On May 4, Rogers released a video on YouTube titled "Rogers Back." He's still rapping, but he's skating, too. With rumors flying about Rogers' return to skateboarding, we had Chris Nieratko get Rogers on the phone for an update. -- Adam Salo
How is the rapping going?
Very good. It's still full-time for me.
I heard you're going to be on "The Mo'Nique Show."
Yeah, I'm supposed to be going on there in a couple of months. The show is already scheduled so they gotta get me in on one of the shows that they already have scheduled.
Are you going to be rapping?
Do you know what song you're going to rap?
Not really. I make a lot of music so two months from now I may have something that keeps me up at night way more than right now. So I don't know. I have stuff right now, a few songs that I gave to this radio station in Atlanta that goes out to a lot of people. It goes out to, like, 1.4 million listeners and they got a real great response from those two songs. I haven't put them out anywhere else yet.
What are the names of the two songs that have been getting the great response?
"Running" and "Ms. Incredible." As of right now, I'd probably do one of those two.
Tell me about this new song, "Rogers Back." What is that a metaphor for?
It's no metaphor there at all. It just means I'm back on my skateboard.
Can we expect you to come out of full retirement?
Yeah, I would say it's going to be different this time around. I'm skating full-time. I'm skating and making music full-time.
Sometimes. Sometimes I'll be skating flat ground and maybe listening to a beat and writing music in my head. I write a lot of music in my head. So I can do that. But generally, you know, skate during the day and make music at night.
What's going to be different this time around for your skate career?
Well, I've played by the handbook. I've done things by the rules. I did a whole career where I danced inside the lines, was as humble as they wanted me to be and made the brands money. This time I'm going to do a lot more of being the brand, forming brands and companies and things like that. I won't really be worrying about anyone's opinions or caring what core or mainstream audience opinions are -- things of that nature. Starting companies and doing brands, you don't really have to check in with anybody so much.
So you're going to start your own board brand.
I am going to start my own board brand.
Do we have a name yet?
Yes. It is called "Selfish."
I think a cool name would be "Shellfish."
Nah. I don't like shellfish. I don't like fish that much. I like whitefish and swordfish but I don't know that I like shellfish.
But if I saw a board on a shop that looked like the exterior of a lobster, I would think it was really sturdy.
My boards will be really sturdy. One hundred percent Canadian Maple. I'll be using the best wood that money can buy. I won't be price-cutting by going to China or Mexico to get my skateboards. I'll be using 100 percent hard rock maple from the East Coast of Canada so, if a kid gets his hands on one of my skateboards, he'll notice the difference immediately between one of my boards and most of his favorite brands. It will be stiffer, stronger and have more pop. It will feel like skateboards used to feel like when we all used that kind of wood. Sturdy is one thing we'll definitely be having.
Will it come with a free rap CD?
You know what? More often than not, it will. Probably not the team boards and probably not the other pros' boards but my board will definitely have iTunes cards and things of that nature in it. Content, I'll feed content with my boards and through my skateboarding.
Are you coming back to skating because you're broke?
No. I haven't worked a job this whole last year. My checks, sponsor money stopped coming the second that I retired. That was pretty instantaneous. Nobody carried me on for a little bit. I expected that. I knew what I was getting myself into. I weighed my extremes, what levels I would go to if I was giving stuff up. But yeah, I haven't worked a job this whole past year. God's seen me through perfectly. I'm not any skinnier or anything. I've been eating every day. I'm healthy and well.
How are the Bentley payments going?
It's an Aston Martin. Payments are going well. That's the car in the ["Roger's Back"] video so it's still in my possession and stuff like that.
Do you regret buying that car?
Yeah. Well, I don't have any regrets per se. But I learn from things. I wouldn't do it over again but I wouldn't take it back. You know, basically I had one career that went great, so I get to pick that apart and take the great things from that and replay them. Then I can take the things that were not so great and dismiss them. Really my main flaw with my last career was my lack of responsibility. My superpower ability to spend money as if it were actually water, which it's not. So this time around I won't be doing that. I'll be putting my money into smarter things like investing. I still would say I don't save money; I make money. I still don't believe in saving money because I think that puts a mental cap on your pay. Say you start saving if you're making $500,000 a year, then you kind of tell yourself you're not going to make $500,000,000. And then if you save 500,000, it's not going to help you at all if you start making $500,000,000. So, I still believe I don't save money; I make money. But with the money that I make, I'll be doing smarter things. I won't be spending $3,000 a month on a car payment. That I won't be doing.
I notice in the "Rogers Back" video you're wearing Nikes. Are you getting that Nike money now or is that flow from Paul Rodriguez?
Nah, that's P-Rod flow. I don't talk to Nike. I mean, God bless them, but I got those from P-Rod.
Do you think your comeback will be embraced?
It makes no difference to me at this juncture.
But you need to sell boards.
Kids buy boards. I've never had a problem with kids. I can't say what the core industry will do. But at the end of the day, everyone respects greatness. So that's one thing that I'll continue to embody, being great, working harder than the next man. They don't have to like me while I'm on the planet Earth if they don't want to. But at the end of the day greatness is always embraced and that will be appreciated and respected. As for the core industry, I don't really care. There's a whole new generation of kids who continue to come out and their older brothers will tell them who I am if they're skateboarders. I'll skateboard excellently in their presence. Some people will embrace it. Some people will hate it and that's all I need. We're in a digital era where numbers count. "Rogers Back," for example, got 70,000 views already and it hasn't even been a week. So, numbers count. I don't care how many of those views hate that or love that. That energy is all I need.
Contest skating could be a quick source of money. Are you going to focus on that with your comeback?
No. I'm not worried about quick money. This isn't about money at all. What a lot of people didn't see properly is that if I was worried about money, I wouldn't have retired in the first place. I was making, like, $50,000 a month to ride a piece of wood with four wheels on it.
Why did you retire in the first place?
Sometimes you have something in your stomach, in your gut, that it's what you're supposed to do. Sometimes a window opens and you feel confident you're supposed to jump out that window. And you do it in blind faith. It wasn't the easiest choice and I've had to weather a storm. But I don't regret it. I wouldn't take it back nor would I want to do it over again.
Don't you think you could have done both, rapped and skated at the same time?
It was just something for me. It was something for my story. There were a few great reasons. No. 1: It got to a point where my interest and passion was burning more for the music on a daily basis and it was taking away from my skating. I had chiseled out such a solid career over the past 10 years that I didn't want to fall off even a little bit and have people remember me as that. I wanted people to remember me in my prime, so I left in my prime regardless of what it would do for me financially. It wasn't about money. What most skaters do, and what I could've done if I wanted to, is milk the game. I could have not skated and just milked it and I would have seen checks for, like, a whole year. So, instead of milking the game and taking people's money without doing the work, which I felt like would have been stealing, I made sacrifices. Great sacrifice brings great gain.
Now I can do both because I've gotten to a point where it's comfortable to do both. At the time, I didn't want to juggle. I wanted to give my everything to that, to cross the line in the sand with myself and not just be a skateboarder making music. I took music seriously to the point where I wanted to be viewed as an artist. Even if someone says I'm the worst rapper or artist, that's fine. I just wanted them to acknowledge me as that. I wanted to be free from skating a little bit, really dig into the music and do it every day comfortably. There are people who go skate and there are skateboarders. There are people who rap and there are rappers. And it's a big difference. I felt like if I didn't jump in, the stars weren't going to align perfectly for me.
In "Rogers Back" you say that you're a top-three skater. Do you still believe that?
I said I was usually top-three, like contest placings. And that was a true statement.
But moving forward do you think you could still be top three?