The Bobbito InterviewMay 8, 2007 at 9:58 pm | Posted in Interviews | Leave a comment
Written by Mikey Fresh
The name DJ Cucumberslice may not ring a bell, but sneakerheads, basketball fans and Hip-Hop aficionados know the name as just another alias for the legendary Bobbito. With a resume that includes playing pro ball in Puerto Rico, freelancing for publications such as The Source, Vibe, Rap Pages, and Fader, and breaking unsigned emcees like Wu-Tang, Big Pun, Jay-z and Nas, Bobbito can me defined as one of the most respected Hip-Hop tastemakers to come out of New York City. Nike recently honored the DJ, writer, and basketball/sneaker connoisseur with his own series of Air Force One sneakers. On one early Monday morning Bobbito took a couple of minutes of his hectic schedule to break down the science on Uptowns and Hip-Hop.
Damn, after all this time and free promotion you’ve done, Nike has finally decided to let you design some sneakers, huh?
Bobbito: Yea, I’ve been collaborating with Nike for a long time since like 1993 on and off throughout the years, but for the 25th anniversary for the Air Force One, we decided to do a shoe that reflects my passions such as sneaker designs, basketball, and DJing. I worked very closely with the art director to develop the logo treatment with the hand over the basketball and the hand over a 12 inch record because I play wax, no mp3’s or none of that bullshit. On the heel of the sneaker we put love because Cool Bob Love is one of my nicknames and people really been bugging out over it, I’m really like beside myself on how the sneakers jumped off like they did, I didn’t really think they were going to blow up like that. All the Hip-Hop heads and DJ cats that I’m down with are feeling em’ because they represent that spectrum and all my peoples that I grew up with that were playing ball in the Air Force Ones since they first came out. People now forget they originated as a performance sneaker. They just think of Air Force Ones as street shoe.
Nike really lucked out with the Air Force One’s popularity in the Hip-Hop community,
Bobbito: Nike’s stupid happy because my shoes, and I have three in the pack, each one has different color combos, they really pleased because there’s a story behind my sneakers. Their personalized and really represents me and the dues that I’ve paid also showing my pedigree. I wrote the 1st sneaker article in the world for The Source in 1991 called “Confessions of a Sneaker Addict”. I was holding on to sneakers doing what people call now “keeping them deadstock”, and I was doing that since the 70’s keeping sneakers on ice, wait a couple years until their not out anymore and then rocking them. From that article it was like boom!!!, that lead to working with Nike, I did over 40 commercials with them in the 90’s and into 2000. I also did consulting for them in design and advertising. I got a long term relationship with Nike. (laughs)
Being that you been in sneaker game since the 70’s, you’ve seen all the eras come and go. Especially in the last couple of years the sneaker culture has become so huge with kids camping out for days for limited releases and the internet bringing a lot of information to the consumer, tell me a little but about the evolution of the sneaker game.
Bobbitio: I tell you a lot about it, read my book, Where’d You Get Those? New York City’s Sneaker Culture: 1960-1987(laughs) I can’t say it any better then I did that book, literally I nailed it with that one. Not one person has come to me since the book has come out like “yo you forgot to mention…”, nah I mentioned it all, but now it’s definitely a different time from what my generation went through in the 70’s and 80’s. In the same token there are also a lot of similarities too, but if you really wanna go deep with it, go and read my book. There’s also a full length documentary that goes along with it and I just signed the deal, so look out for that.
Do you think the game is getting oversaturated though with Nike releasing new Dunks almost every week and all the retro Jordans being reissued?
Bobbito: Well, it definitely feels like there are more sneakers out more then ever. In the same token though the sneaker companies are very smart, they’ll tease you by only putting out 2000 of these and 100 those. “We’ll only give a certain amount to the players” and so forth. No matter what though, not only is there a sneaker out there for somebody, but there’s going to that ill sneakerhead that wants to have that sneaker that no one else has.I always tell this to people the sneaker industry and culture for the most part is not like music, it’s ok if your artist is broke but he’s making dope songs. The sneaker industry is not like that, they make sneakers specifically to sell. They want every single sneaker that they put out to sell.
Adding to that Nike put a ton of money and marketing in the Air Force 25,they even went and got Nas, Kanye, Rakim, and Krs-One and the shoe didn’t sell well at all. You could say it “flopped” and Nike’s just sitting wondering “what happened”, we didn’t put a dollar into the original Air Force One and it is one of our best selling.
Bobbito: I think that there’s been a lot of sneakers over the years from all the brands that were heavily marketed and didn’t sell, you can go back to the Shaquille joint that Reebok did, Number 1 if it’s Nike or whoever if a brand puts a lot of money into promoting a certain shoe and it doesn’t sell. They are still promoting their brand, and their still promoting the concept that our brand equates basketball and high performance. So that ripples to the rest of their releases and tells the consumer “ yo we care about you”, we may not it hit it on the nose with every sneaker. I did some consulting on the very late stage of the Air Force 25 for the low cut that their putting out which I hope that their still putting out. There’s a lot of R&D (research & development) that really pays a lot of attention to the performance of the shoe, and if you play ball the Air Force 25 in them like dead up them shits is bananas B, mad comfortable… mad comfortable but it’s like sneaker companies are not in New York. There’s no main company that has a headquarters in New York, so when they get caught up designing all the specifics sometimes they may be too concerned over the comfort and miss that fashion aspect.
Very few sneakers can have both and the original Air Force One did it, but really the Air Force wasn’t a good style shoe out the box. When they first came out ball players wore them on the court, but didn’t wear them off the court. It took a while for them to sink in like “oh those look aight”.
So on the music and basketball side where can fans still catch you doing your thing?
Bobbito: Aside from working on the Air Force One campaign, I’m also the 1st Latino announcer in the 60 year history of the Knicks franchise, I do a halftime report with celebrities from the crowd called Hot Minute at The Half, and I been doing that the whole season during home games. Also I co-founded Bounce Magazine, we just partnered up with Dime Magazine, we have website Bouncemag.com which is strictly about grassroots and playground basketball. I still DJ the last Monday of every month at Apt., I got a party which Rich Medina called Happy Feet that’ll happen every Sunday in the summer that’s a long weekend: Memorial Day wknd.,
Independence wknd., and Columbus Day Wknd.