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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bobbito Garcia on the Pinnacle of Sneaker Culture and Spinning Only Vinyl

Posted By on Thu, Mar 6, 2014 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge JOE CONZO
  • Joe Conzo

Potentially a contender for Most Interesting Man in the World, the resume of Bobbito Garcia, aka Kool Bob Love, includes basketball player, director, DJ, producer, actor, and author, and that's just naming a few. The New York native just celebrated the 10-year anniversary of his book on sneaker culture, Where'd You Get Those, and is in the early stages of directing a new documentary about his renowned '90s hip-hop show, "Stretch and Bobbito," with former co-host Stretch Armstrong. All the while, he is still DJing clubs and hosting his own radio show. We spoke with Bobbito about his book, sneaker culture, and his upcoming documentary. He will be signing copies of his book and performing with Stretch Armstrong this Friday, March 7, at Mighty.

Congrats on the 10-year anniversary of your book. Why did you decide to celebrate with with a reissue? The book has been out of print for two years, maybe three, and myself and publisher Dana Albarella, who is also the editor, noticed it stocking up on eBay for $100 or $200. So we knew there was demand for the book's return, and at that point we decided to do another run for the tenth anniversary and redo the cover and add sixteen pages. A lot of people who already have the book have purchased this edition just as a collector's item but also to read the additional pages. The new cover was done by well-known artist named Todd James, aka REAS. I'm kind of proud he did the art on the cover. As a person who knows so much about the history of shoe culture, what do you think of the recent shoe game? To be honest, I don't really pay much attention to the hype that happens among popular sneaker culture today, particularly with the blogs. I will say however that this era is the best ever for people that are interested in footwear. There are more brands, more models, more colors, and more information than there's ever been. If you're a kid or adult or senior citizen and you care about what you wear on your feet, you really have a lot of choices and that's a good thing. I'm thankful for that, and also thankful to have [been] given an opportunity to document an era that I grew up in, which preceded all this and really laid the foundation for all the madness (laughs). Do you still collect shoes as well? I do not. I actually spend a lot of time donating and advocating donations to a number of nonprofits, most notably Hoops 4 Hope. I helped raised awareness and some money for them. They are based in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Part of the funds was used to build a court, and they dedicated it in my name, which is pretty special. I talk about it in the afterword of the book, and the effect on me allowed my career to make turns I've never anticipated. You're a director, author, announcer, DJ, producer ... the list goes on. Of all the roles you've recently held, which has been the most challenging to you mentally or physically? I would say, all of them. Because I'm simultaneously a DJ, filmmaker, author, basketball player, and producing and hosting my own radio show, I'm my own manager and PR agent. But the upside is that I love what I do, and I'm appreciated, thankfully, by a very real and spirited community who trust my body of work and really accept my new projects head-on. For example, Doin It in the Park. It was a DIY project and we finished it, but had no money to self-distribute it. So we did a Kickstarter campaign and were able to raise some money so we could put out a DVD, have it on iTunes, and sell it directly to our fans from our website. I'm thankful for that support. It's an ongoing thing, figuring out the new challenge and what road to take, but at the same time maintaining everything else that's already been established and what people expect of me.

DOIN' IT IN THE PARK Official Theatrical Trailer 2013 from Doin' It In The Park on Vimeo.

Let's turn the focus to your DJ career. You and Stretch are going to be bringing NYC to us this Friday. What do you miss about doing a show with him? Although recently you did start a Twitter and Instagram together called Stretch and Bobbito... We are in the process of interviewing people for my newest documentary. Stretch will be co-producing it and I'll be directing it. It's about the history of our radio show and the impact on hip-hop and beyond that music and community in the '90s. Right now it's very early in pre-production. It won't be out until 2015. But I don't miss doing a radio show with Stretch. It was a very special time in my life, and I've moved on and so has he. We're thankful we had the blessing to have a voice, share music, and help artists. Neither of us is stuck in the time, nor resting on the laurels of the magnitude of what our show presented to the world. But we feel that it's important to document it in the film because people are getting older (laughs). Younger generations are still aware of our show and what it did, but they don't know the entire story because they didn't live it. Similar to my book and Doin' It in the Park. I'm documenting stuff to layout a historical imprint so people can be educated and learn. You also currently do your own show for East Village Radio on Mondays. Yes, I'm on weekly from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and they archive the show. It's fun. I play world jazz and soul music. It's a joy to be back on the radio. Do you only play vinyl on the show? Not just for the show, that's period, also in my club sets. I'm 90 percent vinyl. I love analog sounds. I'm not anti-digital, I'm just pro-analog. Will you be lugging a ton of records here Friday? I play a lot of 7-inches, and I've always have, before it became fashionable to be a 7-inch DJ. The first record I ever bought was a 7-inch to be exact. Thank God the 7-inches are a little lighter to carry, but I'll have some LPs and EPs and 10-inches. The thing that I love about the Bay Area, and I've been DJing there since the mid '90s, is that I've always found the Bay was super open-minded. Sometimes even more than New York. I've always been accepted really warmly by the Bay Area crowd, whether I was playing hip-hop or a Stevie Wonder tribute with DJ Spinna. The Bay Area has a lot of respect for me, and it's mutual. You guys will be playing jams from 1960-1987 to reflect the era of Where'd You Get Those? What's one of your most memorable records from that time? Too many! Although I was talking to DJ Proof because we were conceptualizing the event, and I was like it would be cool to celebrate the 10th anniversary. And he's like, 'That's great, why don't we bring out Stretch and you guys could play '90s hip-hop?' And I was like, well that would be too obvious because that's what people know us for. So why don't we twist this a little bit and play music that is inspired by the book from 1967 to 1980? The first record that came to mind was at one point the working title of the book which was "Walking in Rhythm" by the Blackbirds. That's definitely one song I'll play, but I won't tell you anything else. You just have to come. -- @ChrisxtinaLi
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Christina Li

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