Chad Muska on His Ten Favorite Boomboxes
During his heyday, a Muska session was as much defined by the next-level tricks as it was by his ever-present boombox—the beats always within earshot at the spot.
Photo by Rick Kosick
Chad Muska was one of the most influential superstars of 90s skateboarding. Known for riding the biggest rails of his time, killing ledges as well as flatground, and handling double kinkers and hubbas with style and ease, he was also recognized for his love of boomboxes. During his heyday, a Muska session was as much defined by the next-level tricks as it was by his ever-present boombox—the beats always within earshot at the spot.
"The sessions kind of went mobile," Muska recalls. "We went from being in these gatherings—skating mini ramps and skateparks—to cruising around the streets. For music on the session, we started bringing ghetto blasters around. Wherever we had it, the session was more hype. They added to the energy that I was able to create and get out of myself. I love the ghetto blaster."
So in the name of all that is influential and loving—and in loyal service to hype sessions forever—we asked Muska to give us a quick review of his ten most-wanted boomboxes.
Watch Muska's episode of Epicly Later'd airing tonight at 10 PM on VICELAND.
This was definitely the Holy Grail to me. My friend Marco—my OG homey who I first started writing graffiti with—came across it. He told me, "There's one that plays vinyl." And I was like,
But when I got it, I was like, "All right. I'm cool. I'm done." I really do think that was the last major one I got. I didn't know where to go after that.
It was just one of the coolest things to be able to press eject and [the front] would open real slow just like it would with a tape, and you'd slide the vinyl in there. It was heavy and big as hell, that thing, but still one of the coolest ones out there.
The GF-919. Yeah, the four-speaker one—just the aesthetic of it is very pleasing to somebody who has an OCD-balance vibe.
I just love that: four-speakers, two antennas blasting out almost like the sound from the speakersw, and the handle in the middle: You can almost picture the double fist holding that little skinny handle. It's like, "Okay. The shrine is here." And this one has two tape decks. That's so cool, man. While one's playing you can be rewinding the other. It was literally like having turntables on your tape player. Like, if one tape was about to end, you could hit play on the other one and keep it continuous. Or if you knew your tape real well, you could rewind it and kind of DJ like that. That thing just says party. You just look at it and you're like, "That's a party right there."
The Lasonics to me seemed to be the most available. They were kind of generic and a little bit cheesy, but so dependable. Around that time period, in the 90s and 2000s, if you were in a downtown area in the electronic district, there was always some Lasonics somewhere. I would always be stoked to go to those districts, skate around, go into these stores, and still find these 80s leftovers.
But the Lasonics were loud and actually supplied great sound. When we were skating around a lot, this is definitely one of the ones that made it on the session the most. If it broke we got another one somewhere. But as time went on, it got increasingly harder and harder to find them. Those stores kind of started to disappear, too. Then with the birth of the iPhone and iPod, it really sent them away.
Philips (Magnavox) D8444
It's the third eye. Yeah. I had that one, man, and it was a good ghetto blaster because, much like the four speaker one, it just says power. It's like a wall of amps at a concert that's going to blast you when you stand in front of it. Those three-speaker ones were even cooler than the four-speakers, because they were just unique, especially that big, middle one like that.
Those things are crazy, too, when you take them apart. They have the big magnets behind them. That's one of the heaviest parts—the speaker itself.
Yeah. If that Philips one was the third eye, this one is the cyclops. That compact little design and those roll bars that protect it … I'm not sure if this one is the exact one I'm thinking of, but some of those classic images from Back In The Days. Who did that? Was that Jamel Shabazz? You see some of those classic 80s images and that one was in there … where the guy has the gun mounted on it? You see that? He put his own addition to it.
That was a thing I did with a lot of my ghetto blasters—customization. I would draw on them, but we did crazy shit, too, like put studs on them, punk-rock-jacket style. Like studded-up. But it was mainly stickers and paint. And if you were raging at parties or going to trade shows and skate events, everybody would start putting their stickers on it, tag it, or draw pictures. People were ready. They just wanted to leave their mark. They felt the energy.
Telefunken. Whoa. This one looks German or some kind of Euro. That thing is badass; that's all I gotta say. The other cool thing about the Telefunken was just the white part of it, because so many ghetto blasters I had were silver or black. That was a different kind of 80s, retro, jazzercise kind of thing.
That's the one for skating, though. You just rip it right there. You put one hand on the handle and then the other part just rests on your forearm. You can skate and it doesn't flap around. You can control it better like that. Those are the best size to skate with.
Panasonic (National) RX-A5
I don't want to collect any more ghetto blasters. I'm trying to minimize right now. Less is more, less is more. I have too much stuff. But this one right here… might have to make room for this one. The National. 80s, for sure.
Before I even noticed what it did. I was like, damn, look at that thing with those four mini speakers and the dual cassette. This thing's badass. Then I saw that it closed up into a suitcase and I was like, "Holy shit."
JVC 3090 CQM
I remember when I first saw one. I was at a swap meet and some guy had it and the TV was on. I was like, "Oh shit! Look at that!" I wanted to buy it from the guy but he wouldn't sell it because that was what he'd watch when he was selling his stuff at the flea market. So I was trying to find one of those for a while. I finally got one but the TV didn't work.
But I mean, look at that thing! It's next level. It was the iPhone before the iPhone. You had your music in there, your TV, and everything you needed. I was thinking, I could really revisit this design in a futuristic tablet ghetto blaster that had access to Spotify and all your programs. It'd have a hard drive that you could access, and share files with, and have a little screen on there that could play music videos or whatever!
I had one of these at some point. I don't know what the heck happened to it and that really upsets me. I don't know why I didn't have this thing in a glass shrine or something like that, because look at it. It's that sound, too. Just that little Casio, video game sound. Atari kind of. You know you just want to jam that thing.
You could jam along with your band. I'm pretty sure you could record what you played, too, if you wanted. That was the coolest thing—you could just be playing along and jamming with the tunes.
It wasn't big, man. It wasn't that big at all. It was just so perfect. It was the sickest little design. I remember I had the box and everything. It had a really cool box that it came in. Even just the packaging was super old school and all 80s looking.
Yeah, that's a mini holy grail right there.
I hesitated to put this one in the list, given the fact that I hadn't really heard of it, but that's also what got me equally excited about it. It has the look of all the things that I liked about a lot of the other ones, but I just didn't really remember it so I thought it was kind of cool to throw it in the mix as sort of a random one. And it reminded me of the Lasonics. But yeah, it does have a Sony vibe to it too. There's some Sony flair in there—the silver and the roll bars. It had the mini handle and the two antennas. Had a lot of the shiny lights. There are so many out there, they're all uniquely themselves and they all have a special personality.