Yaje Popson played at Tompkins Square Park as a little kid before honing his skills there as an adolescent. During his formative years, he developed a spontaneity with his skating that can only be achieved through growing up pushing through traffic. He had already shut down much of the city, and was a step away from riding for Chocolate; when he injured his knee circa 2011. This resulted in a trip to Brazil for surgery.

Yaje traveled through South America during his recovery, and discovered gardening, cooking, and Ayahuasca. Upon returning to New York rejuvenated around 2014, he began filming what would become his part in DANY [2016]. The comeback was spectacular; and he’s put out several parts since. In the process, Yaje has emerged as one of the cornerstones of the current generation of Alien Workshop and the newly-reformed Sovereign Sect.

If the criteria for being considered a legend is being remembered for your craft, Yaje has likely achieved that status already. But beyond the flips and grinds, he has a great story of self discovery and overcoming mental and physical adversity to realize his full potential. Lee Smith takes a deep dive into Yaje’s narrative in Episode 11 of Mission Statement.