• Class of 2017: Javan Lessane

    With eyes ahead to the new year, we brought together the fresh new faces that are challenging the status quo. Artists, activists, and musicians, our Class of 2017 is forging the path ahead with hope and optimism.

    Javen Lessane has big plans for the next year: releasing his first album, “Wasted Youth”, traveling the world for photoshoots, and putting out his next skate video feature. We chatted with the Philadelphia virtuoso to see where he came from and to take a look at where he’s headed. 

    Age: 20 
    Occupation: Musician, Skateboarder
    Sign: Libra
    Senior Superlative: Most Likely to Succeed

    Who is Javan Lessane? 
    I really want to say it, but it might offend people. I have an acronym for my name. Javan stands for "Just A Very Awesome Nigga." When people ask me who I am, I'm awesome. Just a very awesome nigga. From a more formal standpoint, I would say I'm a person who likes to stay busy. If I'm not skateboarding, I'm making music. If I'm not making music, I'm skateboarding. If I'm not doing that, I'm doing something else creative like modeling or taking pictures myself or just painting. I always have to stay creative.

    What’s the first you can ever remember making? 
    In my entire life, the first thing I made from scratch was this Ghost Face Killa sample. He has this song about his mom. I found that instrumental and I made a beat out of that. That's the first beat I ever made and that's what kind of got me into it. That made me feel like I could think of something and put it down and get it out there to the world.

    Photo by Logan Jackson

    When did you get your first board? 
    I got my first board when I was 12 years old in California on a trip visiting my aunt. Haven’t stopped since. 

    Would you be the way you are today if it wasn't for skating?
    I would not. I don't know where my life would be without skateboarding. I could say that I would have the same mindset if I didn't make music or if I didn't model, but skateboarding keeps me sane. It's the one thing that if I don't do, it feels like something's wrong, like something's missing.

    Photo by Logan Jackson

    Tell us about your painting. 
    My mom just started painting, that kind of inspired me. I've always said I'm not a good artist, as far as drawing, but recently people have just been telling me, "If you do something, and do it long enough, you'll get good at it. If you want to do it, then do it." So, I've been painting. I started off making this painting of a sunflower seed, but now I have this cool idea where I take stencils and I cut them out on the paper and then I get non-toxic paint and put it in my mouth. Spit onto the canvas. Then pull the stencil back and that's painting. More abstract than traditional strokes.

    Can you tell us about the t-shirt you made? 
    It says, “Search for Wizdum.” My very close friend Quentin and I always try to become more and more wise. We joke about it all the time. He and I came up with this idea called "wizdum." Also, something we were saying all along through the election became a saying around our house, "Vote for yourself." Say you really want to do something in your life, people will back you and people will support you, but if you don't believe in yourself first and take that first leap, it will never happen. Sometimes you've got to do stuff that's uncomfortable and humbling to get to where you need to be. It's all about biting the bullet and getting it done.

    Is there a difference between being wise and being smart? 
    Yes. Being smart, you can sit in front of a book and read the whole book, retain that knowledge and recite it back to somebody. They'll think you're smart. If you go outside and see two people fighting and your instinct is to go see what's up, but from past experiences, you know it won't end end up well and you distance yourself from that, that's wisdom. You learned from experience. You're taking that experience and putting it into the present.

    What do you hope for yourself in 2017? 
    2017 I hope for a lot, man. I've gotten this far so I'm going to just keep pushing for more modeling gigs. I want to travel to London. That's what I really want to do. I want to aim for a modeling gig in London. I want to put out my second skate part. I already put out one in 2016. Get a couple more skate sponsors. Shoe sponsors. Hopefully Converse. A truck sponsor. As far as music, I'm just going to release my first album. It's called "Wasted Youth" and see how that goes. Just keep doing that.

    Photos by Logan Jackson

    What do you hope for the world in 2017? 
    I just hope that everyone can settle out their differences. Country versus country. Continent versus continent. Black versus white. Yellow versus brown. As long as in 2017 people start to come to see we're all the same, that's all I hope for.

    Say something to your generation.
    Be yourself. Don't let anybody tell you who you are and what you're going to be. If you want to be something in life, you can do it as long as you stay true to what you believe in. Rest in peace, Love Park.

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