DJ Clark Kent
DJ Clark Kent is so much more than sneakers and records. Besides being a remarkable human being, if HIP-HOP had a photo definition his image would be in it… Read our conversation on Music, Hat/Fitteds, Sneakers, Hip-Hop and life!
WIT: Why DJ Clark Kent? Is that your real name?
DJCK: No way…
WIT: So what’s your name?
DJCK: My name doesn’t have to be disclosed… Why Clark Kent? When I was really young I used to wear glasses and the kids used to make fun of me because of my glasses calling me: Clark Kent, Clark Kent, Clark Kent so I promised them that when I got older and became a DJ. I would come back and the name would haunt them…
It does haunt them because all the kids that use to make fun of me saw that I did go become a DJ and make money with that name they used to make fun of me with…
WIT: Let’s stop here for a second. When you were young, you already knew you were going to be a DJ?
DJCK: YES, when I was young I knew I was going to be a DJ!
WIT: What was it about being a DJ that you knew that’s what you would become?
DJCK: When I was 9 years old I used to stay with my uncle and aunt a lot. He had a sound system. I used to mess with it. He used to DJ in his house. He wasn’t like a club DJ. He just used to DJ at friends parties. I used to mess with his sound system.
I loved music so much that when I got the ability to actually mess with the sound system that was it… At that point I decided that’s what I wanted to do. Unbeknownst to anybody else but my self, I knew that that’s what I wanted to do.
WIT: Lets fast-forward through time. Now you are on your late teens, did you attend college?
DJCK: Yes, I went to Emerson in Boston.
WIT: What did you study?
DJCK: Mass communications in radio. I also graduated with double and triple majors in Math and English.
WIT: You have a complete education. You’re not just talking the talk. You have walked the walk?
DJCK: I’m not sneakers and music. I’m a person. I’m a human being first. It’s just that I happen to love music and I like sneakers…
I don’t love sneakers. I like sneakers! My first love is music and living! My family and GOD! I’m much more than the sneakers…
WIT: Everything that’s happening today, we’re sitting here and Japan is going crazy with tragedy: How do you see our world? I ask because every day we go about our business but not many people are world travelers like you, what do you see going on out there?
DJCK: I’m one who firmly believes that everything happens for a reason so I can’t really say: Okay what’s going on in Japan is this or is that. All I can say is that God does what he does for the reasons that he does them. This is planned out hundreds of thousands of years a go. God knew what was going to happen all the way through… Like when we think, we think in linear time. God thinks in space-time so anything that we can think of is already been done in his mind. He put it together so all of this could happen; therefore, I can’t put my mind to try and think the way that he thinks (GOD). So I have to think in linear and I have to think about the line that I’m walking. I have to accept the things that are happening…
Do I like it? Do I like the fact that my friends over in Japan are going through this tragedy right now? No, No way.. AND, at the same time, My friends in Japan, have to think about the fact that the Twin Towers were bombed and I was here or we may have a terrible snow storm and be buried in 25 inches of snow. They could think the same about us. All I can do is take what’s happening for what it is and keep living…
WIT: Now we’re going back in to the music: You are a big part of music. You have been part of the history of Hip-Hop working with BIG putting Jay-Z on. Today where do you see music or what’s your involvement with music?
DJCK: I’m still a record producer and I’m still always looking for new talent. It’s just that I’m extremely picky about new talent. I want real actual talent!
I mean I don’t want something that’s going to work for a year, and then it’s over… I actually want something that I believe has a legacy behind it. I’m extremely weary of what I’m listening to. I respect a lot of things that I hear. It’s just; I don’t believe everything. I want to believe what I’m hearing. I’m extremely careful… I’m very calculated about everything all the way through. I just hope that the artist that are coming out, or the artist that are letting music out, for them to have a greater sense of responsibility for the culture that we’ve created, Hip-Hop. Not only think rap but also think Hip-Hop as a whole. If they do, then they’ll be more responsible with the music they’re actually making…
Me, I’m producing and being careful…
WIT: With that in mind, what is Hip-Hop to you?
DJCK: Hip-Hop is life. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a culture. It’s one of the fabrics of what makes me. I always loved music. When this thing that came along the Hip-Hop intertwined break dancing, graffiti and music. That’s what proofs that Hip-Hop it’s a culture… The fact that there are art pieces, there are music pieces, there are dance pieces, there is history behind it, that’s what proofs it’s a culture…
I grew up from the beginning of that culture. Moving and shifting with that culture so to me it’s my life! It’s just the way I was brought up. Like some people are brought up during the times of racial in-equality. Which we’re still in, but I’m referring to the times when it was blatantly in your face… Therefore, they think differently and they move differently so when they see kids, who did not grown up in that, they look at them funny instead of accepting the fact that they have a different experience.
I grew during the Hip-Hop era so I look at that as we built something for our selves. It became our way of life and we keep moving forward with our way of life…
WIT: It’s obvious that you have a passion for the culture and you support the culture in many different ways?
DJCK: I am the culture! I used to do graffiti. I used to try and break dance. I used to think that I could be a rapper. I’m a DJ! I’m the full embodiment of what Hip-Hop is all about… So what’s the question?
WIT: The question is: how do you stay so grounded?
DJCK: I don’t think I’m better than everybody else and I don’t think that there is anything that I do, that somebody else can’t do… I just think that I’m actually making a decision to do it!
I don’t think that there is anything that anybody can’t do, if they decide to do it! It’s something that God actually gave us the ability to do. He gave us the ability to do anything. As long as we believe and understand that we can’t do, what we won’t do…
You can do whatever you want to! If you’re determined to do it; so I don’t look at the next man because he is not doing something as if he can’t do it… So I wont look down on him. I wont feel like I’m better than him. I actually believe that everybody has the ability to do anything. With that I can’t not be grounded; I come from a third world country so we grew up differently than everybody else.
I’m not Americanized I speak with my accent. I may not speak Spanish but I grew up in a Panamanian household and we learn certain values and I live with them. So, “if my brother is in trouble, so am I!” That’s what I live by: “If my brother is in trouble, so am I!”
WIT: Meaning that…
DJCK: Meaning that if I see something that’s bad. That can happen to you and I don’t tell you, then it’s happening to me because my brother should matter to me. When I say brother it doesn’t mean that you actually are physically related to me. You have to be human…
DJing with Serato
TWIT: You went through a lot of changes, how did cope with going from record to Serato? How was that change for you? Where you resistant to it?
DJCK: I was resistant for about a couple of years. All of my friends were saying you have to use serato and I keep saying No! I kept saying NO because I just thought that it would take away from the Art of Djing, and it did but when I switch over; the hardest thing for me to do was the fact that you can’t see the cover.
I come from an era that you know the record by the cover. Example: there was a record by Pleasure back in the day called “Joyous”. The cover of the album had jelly jars on it. We used to call the record “Jelly Jars” and it wasn’t called jelly Jars… But you know, you pick up the record and it had jelly jars on it. You know what it is… You see, that you can’t do when you’re looking in Serato. Now you have to know the name of the records.
Once you become the guy that knows the name of the records, it becomes routinely playing… So now I can’t make play list because if I make a play list I’ll play out of routine… I don’t play out of routines. I play from the HEART!
That’s the hardest thing. Now the hardest thing is knowing, that you have to know the name of the record…
WIT: So, it changed in that sense…
DJCK: It changed in that sense. It doesn’t affect the way I actually technically DJ because it actually technically works. I mean if anybody who knows me, they know I play from my heart. I play to make that crowd go nuts…
WIT: In other words it affected the art in a weird way?
DJCK: Yeah, in a weird way…
WIT: Yeah, because you still get the crowd going. You still make the crowd go nuts!
DJCK: I mean, being a DJ is what I’m supposed to be! I murder clubs!
WIT: You’re a NATURAL!
DJCK: Yeah, I’m a NATURAL! There is no trying for me. That’s why it looks like I’m having fun when I DJ. I watch people DJ and they don’t look like they are having fun. They look like they are working. I refuse to work at this. This is too easy and I like it too much. I’m having too much fun doing it.
Lebron 8 112
WIT: Lets get in to kicks: Do you still remember the first sneaker you got or the first sneaker you really, really wanted?
DJCK: Absolutely! The reason why I remember the first sneaker… I couldn’t say I remember sneakers that I got but the sneaker I would say I remember the most about is because it was the first sneaker I actually paid for.
I had sneaker before that, but you know, that doesn’t matter until you actually want something. As soon as you want something you go in and you try to figure out how to go get it. That’s when it definitely matters. All the older guys on my block had Pro-Keds Royals or Pro-Ked 69ers. 69’ers came out a little bit after Royals. I was 9, the older kids all had Pro Keds, we looked up to them & they look out for us. So, of course, I wanted to dress just like them.
My initial want was to get Pro Ked – Royals. They were wearing Pro Ked – Royals so I wanted to wear Pro Ked – Royals…
I would work for they guy next door. You know, clean up his basement, sweep up his steps or do whatever. It was me and my cousin Marc. He would give us $10.00 a piece. I think, He was creating work for us just to keep us from doing dumb shit… Cause, We would usually be doing some dumb shit…
He would give us $10.00 we would take a $1 out of it. Take .50 cents go down to Glenwood Flea-market and go buy $9 Pro Ked – Royals. Back then Pro Ked – Royals were $14 but in a Flea market they were a little irregular so they were $9 but nobody could tell. We would take the other .50 cents to come back home.
The biggest trick was to get down there. Get back home with your sneakers and not get robbed… So, imagine being 9 years old. (If you think of the dynamic of people having kids now. They don’t let their kids go to the corner store at night. ) Now think, we used to go to the Glenwood Flea-market, which was 3 or 4 miles away from the house. We would get on the bus to get there. Risk our lives or risk our money to go buy these sneaker and we would do it every week, repeatedly.
We would sweep those steps every week or work for Mr. Metford across the street to try and make money to buy new sneakers. It just became a little addiction. Now, just imagine you’re 9 and 10 with a brand new pair of sneakers. Then everyone started wearing Pumas so we had to go find Pumas. Then Adidas so we got to find Adidas. Then you go down and you see Adidas that everyone was wearing but now. Everyone was wearing Adidas – Shell Toe but you go down and you see this Karim Abdul Jabbar shoe. So, I was like: I’m going to buy Abdul Jabbars so when I go back they’re looking at me like: How the hell does he keep wearing different sneakers?
When everybody was wearing Puma – Baskets we found Clydes. Me and my cousin (one year older than me) did this; every week… We just went looking for sneakers. It just became like our little mission. We would make sure that we found somebody to work for every week. It was either Mr. Palmer or Mr. Metford.
When Pumas came along they were $24. If you went to a regular store they were $31 we would work for Mr. Palmer and Mr. Metford. We would knock on their door and say if there is anything you want us to do? Just to make sure that we could buy some sneakers. This went on for years… Until we got crafty enough that we made our own money!
WIT: Wow, that’s pretty interesting. Of course that was the beginning of being diverse with shoes. Are you still that diverse when it comes to shoes? Do you get Adidas, Pumas or whatever?
DJCK: I’m very clear: I GET WHATEVER I LIKE! That’s that. If I like it, I buy it! Like I just try to buy Adidas Country’s at Cool J’s. Because Country’s were an old school Adidas shoe I liked.
WIT: For people who don’t know explain what are Adidas Country?
DJCK: Country’s are a running sneaker that Adidas made back in the day. He had them in White/Green with the Gum bottom. I was like Country’s!!! I was shaking when I saw them. Someone may see me and go: You like Adidas? You only think that if you don’t know me… And that’s only because I’ve done some work with Nike you would automatically think I only like Nike. That’s not the case.
“Is Air Force One my favorite shoe? Absolutely! No question…”
DJCK: They are PERFECT!
WIT: Perfect fit, perfect silhouette, what is it about it?
DJCK: PERFECT Silhouette! They are to me, the most perfect looking sneaker I’ve ever seen… and that was from day one, when no one had them. They were at no stores. A Nike representative was trying to get us to play basketball in them. When I use to play basketball at the City Wide Basketball League. He told us to put them on and play the game. As soon as they put them on my hands, I was like… I’m stealing these… and I put them in my bag. I put them under the bench. No one realized that I didn’t play in them cause I was wearing Nike’s. I don’t remember if I was wearing Bruins or Blazers that day but we were playing. The game was over and you know everybody starts handing him back the sneakers. I just put my bag on and walked out…
I walked out of the playground and I still have that pair brand new. I have never worn them… That shoe was just too good! I still have them brand new and you know it’s from that time because it’s a 10 ½. I’m a size 13 now…
WIT: Do you wear your shoes?
DJCK: Yeah, what’s the point of having them if you’re not going to wear them? They are not museum pieces to me. I’m not a sneaker collector. Collectors put them in glass cases, worship them… I don’t do that. I wear my sneakers!
I like sneakers because I like to be Fresh. It’s not about the shoes. It’s about being Fresh. It has always been about being Fresh and that’s it!
Lebron 8 Denim “James Dean”
New Era Fitteds
WIT: How did the love for fitted baseball caps start?
DJCK: I like hats. I like baseball hats… That’s it…
I don’t wear any other brands. I only wear NEW ERA Baseball Hats.
WIT: Do you wear anything other than fitteds?
DJCK: I wear fitteds or wool ski hats during winter but I wont wear a ski cap that doesn’t flip. It has to flip for me to wear it. I will not walk around looking like I got a condom in my head…
WIT: So, you only wear New Era and that’s it?
DJCK: There is a reason why. Their hats fit properly!
WIT: Explain that a little:
DJCK: The size and the way that they fit on your head (no homo). Is just the right hat! Back in the day we wore Starter or Sports specialty. Some wore Flex, but we always wore fitted hats… The funny thing is, the first New Era hat I had was a snap back but it was because it was blank. I put my crews name in front of it.
I had a crew with the dudes that work for my company: “SUPERMEN ENT”. So I saw these hats and there was a machine there to stitch whatever you wanted on the hats. I wanted all of my crew’s names and the name of the company under their names. I gave them all the hats but then I was like: “but they are not fitteds.” It affected the situation until I found fitteds…
ADICTED TO FRESH #ATF
WIT: Lets get in to ATF. I know it means Addicted To Fresh. I know you’re the GENERAL…
DJCK: When I say I’m the GENERAL is just a nickname. No one leads our crew! We are all leaders!
WIT: I understand there it’s a few of you and you all are doing big things. How did it start?
DJCK: Addicted To Fresh. The words come from me arguing with Damian Dash. He used to call himself Young Fresh To Death. I used to say if you are Fresh To Death then I’m Addicted To Fresh cause we would always argue like that. It was just arguments that we had. This was before we all got together and understood that we all were “Addicted To Fresh.” It was just camaraderie talking shit.
So this is kind of how it got started. We made a bet about me wearing a Fresh pair of sneakers every day. I told them I could wear brand new sneakers every day for a whole year… Of course I won the bet but it was more about being Fresh.
Then, you know, I realized that the people that are Addicted To Fresh directly around me were really in to being Fresh too. So it was like we’re going to call our selves ATF. We are! We are all Addicted To Being Fresh.
WIT: How did you choose the pieces of ATF?
DJCK: It was just guys that actually matter to Freshness. Like this dude (referring to Safe Stadick – MiGente Clothing) he makes his Fresh.
Mayor is the “Front Man” his sneaker game is stupid.
It’s like my boy ALL DAY, I can’t even look at this guy when it comes to shoes and the way he shops it’s crazy!
Chi McBride, and just think he is an accomplished actor but then you look at his closet and go, “What the F*CK is this?”.
Dave Jeff, he creates Fresh.
Nai’s fitted game is ridiculous.
You know what I’m saying. It’s like everybody who’s down with us is Fresh.
Feets Malone collection is crazy.
It’s all about being Fresh and everybody is in to it…
Bun B is ALWAYS in some Fresh shit. I don’t even have to explain that. He might even be a label whore… He is in to so much Fresh shit.
Greg Street has the most diverse group of sneakers that I’ve ever seen. Like he’s in to being Fresh and you name it, if it is a street wear brand he owns it…
WIT: So basically it’s just a bunch of like-minded individuals walking the same path?
DJCK: It’s actually a bunch of guys who actually give a damn about being Fresh…
WIT: What’s next for you?
DJCK: I’m Djng. I’m producing. I’m probably going to end up doing some more collaboration’s with brands. I’m Purveying Fresh… That’s it! Fresh Everything! Fresh Music, Sneakers, Hats, Fresh Life Style… Just FRESH! I’m Purveying Everything Fresh!
WIT: Thank you DJ Clark Kent for taking the time to sit with us. We will see you soon…
You can follow him on Twitter @DJClarkKent.
Shot out to Migente Clothing and Cool J’s.