Welcome to the very first edition of our brand new interview series, City Blue Goes One On One, where we get to know some of the leading names in sneaker culture. Our first guest in not only a luminary in the sneaker world but a certified hip hop legend as well, DJ Clark Kent. The Brooklyn born DJ and producer started out in the '80s working the decks for the influential M.C. Dana Dane and rocking sets at nightclubs all over the New York area. He broke out in a big way in the '90s producing mega hits like Mariah Carey's "Loverboy", Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s "Player's Anthem", Notorious B.I.G.'s "Sky's The Limit", and Jay Z's "Brooklyn's Finest" (he was actually the man who introduced Jay to B.I.G.!). While still making music today (he produced the 2012 Rick Ross hit "Super High"), Kent, a lifelong sneaker fanatic, has been making a name for himself collaborating on sneaker designs with Nike, like the black-grey-volt colored "112" packs that pay homage to his native borough. Kent, who also co-hosts the sneaker-themed show Quickstrike on Complex TV, was kind enough to answer a few questions about his life in sneakers and music.
City Blue: How long have you been collecting sneakers?
Clark Kent: I've never been the guy to say I "collect". I believe "collectors" put shoes on display. I wear shoes. All the time. I would say my obsession started when I was 9.
CB: Tell us about your first pair of sneakers that had a significant effect on you.
CK: The first pair of sneakers that changed everything for me was a pair of Pro-Keds Royals. My Uncle bought them for me. After that I was pretty much a junkie.
CB: How did you get involved with sneaker design and Nike collabs?
CK: I was asked to be a part of the Air Force 1 25th Anniversary project. At the first meeting in Portland, I asked if I could design a shoe. After the meeting Astor Chambers, who was PLM at that time, sat me down with Marc Dolce to try my hand at color blocking an Air Force 1.I did it in about 4 minutes. Then I was challenged to come up with a blocking for an Air Max 1 & Air Trainer 1, to complete a "Ones Pack". After 15 Minutes, all was complete. I honestly didn't think about it getting released. But everybody involved thought, "It's great, let's do it!". From that point things just continued to flow.
CB: Do you have any new designs in the works?
CK: Yes, I do.. I would rather keep that a surprise for now.
CB: In your opinion, who are the top designers in the sneaker world today?
CK: To me, the best are Marc Dolce & Tinker Hatfield.
CB: What do you love about the sneaker game?
CK: I love the rush I get from putting on brand new sneakers.
CB: What do you hate about the sneaker game today?
CK: There's way too much information out there. No more element of surprise.
CB: How many kicks are in your collection?
CK: I don't collect, but there's about 2500 pair. I give away shoes all the time, so I'm not actually sure how accurate that is!
CB: What is your favorite sneaker of all time?
CK: 1 of 1 Jackie Robinson Air Force 1.
CB: How did you get involved in music?
CK: I remember music for my entire life, but when I was about 6 I put a needle in the groove of a record on my grandmother's stereo. When the music started it gave me a powerful feeling of control. I felt like the music started because of me. That feeling led me into wanting to learn how to play music continuously. At 9 yrs old I started DJ'ing. That was the beginning of everything.
CB: Who are your musical influences.
CK: My Mom, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Larry Levan, Pete DJ Jones, Grandmaster Flowers, Frankie Crocker, Kool Herc, Bambaata, etc...
CB: Who is the next up and coming artist on your radar that you think will blow up?
CK: That's a very hard question to answer nowadays. Things don't happen like they used to. Sadly, talent isn't the driving force behind careers anymore. I'm a guy who sees the talent, not your followers or YouTube hits.
CB: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
CK: My pleasure.
Thanks again to DJ Clark Kent for being our inaugural interview subject. Stay tuned to the cityblueshop.com blog for future installments of exclusive interviews with other giants in the world of sneakers.