Lahsaan Kobza interview rail 360 WM
2 Oct 2015

Freestyle Forever - The Lahsaan Kobza Interview

"I am a 6 time ABA World Champion..."

shadow subrosa vans flying v clean

Interview and Photos by Wes McGrath Additional Photos by Eric Bahlman & Loofa Spencer Lee

In today's BMX world there is an increasingly rare breed of riders that make it to 'pro level' via roots that are based in BMX racing. You may be surprised to learn that Lahsaan Kobza is one of that rare breed and pretty much a seasoned BMX veteran at the ripe young age of 23. He began riding when he was only 8 years old and began racing one year later in 1999. Lahsaan continued to race up until 2008 during which time he branched out into 'freestyle' and found a new love for riding street. Growing up in Nebraska wasn't the best for expanding his riding talents but between there San Diego, California and his current residence of Phoenix Arizona, he has been able to rise to the position that he wouldn't even have imagined when first clipped-in back at the starting gate all those years ago. Lahsaan presents a solid example of what can come your way from longevity in BMX through determination and a good spirit. There's no doubt Mr. Kobza will continue to grow as a rider and pump out more great bike riding with a smile.

Sponsors : The Shadow Conspiracy - Subrosa Brand - Vans BMX - Casual BMX - BLNTD - T430

What is a typical day like for you, before you get out on your bike?

First thing I do is check my email, Not really a breakfast guy so I usually just start planning on what to ride for the day and hit the BLNTD squad.

We now know you have quite a background in racing, what are some of your biggest accomplishment as a racer?

I am a 6 time ABA World Champion, my best year of racing would've been when I was 14. I rode for Factory Hyper and I ended up Nag 2 (crashed at the grands main event) and my best national number was 23!

What was the main influence for you to begin riding freestyle?

My main influence to ride Bmx was because it was such a freestyle sport/Lifestyle you literally have 6 different styles of riding and you can combine them all together from (Dirt, Street, Park, Vert, Race, Flatland) BMX in my opinion is the most diverse action sport out there. FREESTYLE FOREVER

Growing up, what were your main influences and inspirations that formed your outlook on riding and helped shape your style?

My biggest influences would have to be back to the first BMX videos and posters I saw as a kid. Nowhere Fast was the first video I watched then Dead Sailor and Criminal Mischief so that type of riding (trails-street-park) pretty much just going fast and doing scary stuff got me hooked.

Before Arizona you lived in San Diego, what made you move to Arizona and when exactly did you begin to call AZ home?

The spots, family, homies (Clay Johnson,Matty Nothnagle) and I grew up coming to AZ a lot as a kid so I always loved it. AZ has an amazing scene just like Southern California so it was a easy move and it's way way cheaper than where I was living in San Diego CA haha.

Are there any specific advantages to living in Arizona, which has kept you there for so many years?

Spots on spots spots!!!! Phoenix is one of Americas fastest growing cities so there is new stuff popping up daily and the ditch scene here is AMAZING!

Lahsaan Kobza 180Bar interview loofa lee

"Nowhere fast was the first video I watched, then Dead Sailor and Criminal Mischief..."

-Lahsaan Kobza

How many years have you officially been a Pro rider, can you tell us a little inside story to how it all happened?

I've been pro for 5 years strong and it's been an amazing ride so far. Long story short I grew up in SD around Hoang Tran, Kyle Hart and Josh Hayes and one day we were partying and Hoang said he was going to get me on Subrosa and I didn't believe him but sure enough I got s brand new bike a few months later and filmed my welcome to the Skeleton Crew edit with my good friend Josh Hayes. Huge Shout out to Hoang Kyle and Josh Hayes for getting me here today.

How long have you riding for The Shadow Conspiracy and Subrosa Brand?

I have been on Subrosa for almost 6 years coming into 2016. Shadow came shortly after my first Subrosa trip to Florida. We partied HARD one night at Ryan shers house and Ronnie B asked me to ride for shadow that night it was a night to never forget!

Being Pro for both Shadow and Subrosa, you have many signature parts between both of those companies, what aspect of being chosen as a signature rider is the most rewarding?

The biggest reward is when you get a kid commenting on Instagram how stoked he is on one of my sig products! But nothing beats seeing a kid riding down the street repping your signature parts. So thankful to have the opportunity to work with Sparkys amazing team to make the best products possible !

You have just recently received a signature bike, which is an awesome Paisley color way, how and when did that all come to fruition?

When Subrosa started the signature color ways I was picked first to do a colorway which was the Krispy Cream color on Simone's Noster frame. I love supporting the homies frames the latest colorway I did was on my best mate Scott Ditchburn's ThunderBeast frame and we did a water transfer print on it and I love how it turned out it looks more like a custom paint job.

Lahsaan Kobza interview Portrait NYC eric bahlman

Lahsaan, NYC. Photo by Eric Bahlman.

Lahsaan Kobza interview handlebar portrait WM

Not to be afraid of a few extra tattoos, you know once your inked you can't go back... Subrosa forever! Photo by Wes McGrath

In the past couple of years I have had the chance to travel quite extensively with you, on many separate occasions, can you list off the different places you have been in the past year?

England, Estonia, Las Vegas 3 times ,Abq New Mexico, Denver Colorado, Boston Massachusetts, Brooklyn New York. This year has been amazing to say the least I can't thank Shadow Subrosa and vans enough for all the amazing trips they send me on!

Damn! That is a lot of traveling for one dude! What would you say is the most beneficial part of being exposed to the world at large like that?

Being able to learn about the other cultures and traditions, random facts and history on all the amazing places BMX brings us.

Is there a specific place in the world you wish to visit that you haven’t had the chance to see yet?

I have two places I've always dreamed of going to and #1 would be South Africa for many reasons but most importantly because my mother always dreamed of going there. Also Czech Republic because that's actually where my mothers family is from and hear the spots are amazing and beautiful site sees !

During the entire process of filming for the latest Shadow DVD, “What Could Go Wrong?” you have been on a few Subrosa trips, riding contests such as Simple Session, and filming your own video part for Blunted Athletics. Do you find it hard to stay healthy and happy in such a hectic life schedule? Do you have any on the road secrets that keep you on point?

Staying healthy is really hard when you have so many trips and projects at once but Gary young told me when I was 18 years old that you gotta know when to call it and know when it's time to drop the hammer! That has stuck with me ever since that day. BMX is a very calculated craft to me so I always analyze move and every possibility before I send it.

Lahsaan Kobza Tooth360 interview loofa lee

"Gary young told me when I was 18 years old that you gotta know when to call it and know when it's time to drop the hammer!"

-Lahsaan Kobza

So in a nutshell, can you explain to us what Blunted Athletics is all about?

BLNTD is nothing more than me and my best friends having a good time together from filming videos to making clothes and going on amazing trips together. Blunted Athletics is a company about being blunt and choosing your own path. Stoked for the future for my crew!

When did you first become involved with Blunted?

I became involved with BLNTD back in 2010 me and my business partner Chi Hom went to San Francisco for a skate trip and we hit it off with ideas and decided to go 50/50 on BLNTD and see what we could make happen. Very stoked on the progress we've made with BLNTD from making shirts in Chi's backyard to selling T-Shirts and DVDs worldwide. I'm very thankful for Chi bringing me into the mix!

Before you became co-owner of Blunted, did they have much influence on the BMX community?

BLNTD started mainly skate only and I was the first BMX dude to get involved and then I brought in my good friends Tammy, Hoang and Kyle Hart and that started the whole BLNTD BMX squad.

You are a very motivated individual, supporting the brands that support you, would you say Blunted is a way of giving back to the BMX community as well as having your close friends involved in something unique?

Thank you. I love being able to bring something to the table for BMX it's an amazing feeling to be able to bring your friends on trips and just have a blast with no responsibilities involved except for having a good time.

Lahsaan Kobza interview portrait filming WM

"We filmed for almost 3 years, with some of the team getting a later start, but still, we all had plenty of time to get what we wanted done for the project."

-Lahsaan Kobza

In the past couple of years, Blunted has become more and more well known and loved by the riders involved and their community. What is your motivation behind keeping this company Forever Rolling, when you already have such a busy schedule?

I have some pretty big news i will be dropping soon with BLNTD for the Bmx world/BLNTD fans and for the PHX BMX scene... Can't spill the beans yet so you will have to stay tuned for early 2016 !

You just recently premiered the first DVD for Blunted Athletics at Nora Cup in Las Vegas, Nevada, which you solely organized and made happen for you and your crew! How long have you been in the filming process?

It was a long and stressful project being my first full length DVD I've filmed and edited with my brother Tammy. Setting up the premiere went really smooth working with my good friends at ride (Adam Watkins, Fudger, Krejmas) We filmed for almost 3 years, with some of the team getting a later start, but still, we all had plenty of time to get what we wanted done for the project. The Nora cup premiere was amazing I can't thank RideBMX enough for the opportunity to have the world premiere at Nora. The crowd was so rowdy and it was one of the greatest moments for me and my brother Tammy.

Now that you have completed filming for not just one but two DVD sections, is it time to sit back and chill, or are you keeping it moving into the end of this year?

Keeping it moving I've actually got two new web videos I'm working on (Shadow & Casual Bmx) and there is talk of a new Subrosa DVD. Very stoked.

You have had a long road in BMX so far and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to get shorter anytime soon, who are some integral people that have had a big impact on your career upfront and behind the scenes?

So many people have helped me and inspired me along the way it's crazy to think my first pro I met was Todd Lyons in 99 and now we are friends and he was even at the forever rolling world premiere. Many people got me motivated and still motivate me like (Davey Watson, Nathan Williams, Seth Kimbrough , Pat Juliff, Nasty Dawg Cory Nastzio and of course GOLDIE SEAN BUTLER !

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