Sneakersuite - AG and Ian - conducted by
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Sneakersuite - AG and Ian
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We are in a state where Hip-hop is discussed as being dead. I have met two individuals who believe to agree that hip-hop is not dead but rap is killing it softly. I ran into journalist Anthony Gilbert of the ESPN show It's in the Shoes, writer for Sole Collector and, consultant for Nike at Ian Callender's, SneakerSuite held at the Eyebar in Washington, DC. They reminded me that hip-hop is alive and well but some essential elements are missing and they are doing there best to bring it back.
MVRemix: So what were the first pair of sneakers you ever bought?
AG: The best way that I can answer that question is to say that um there were 2 pair of sneakers, it was a pair of Air Force One's…they were navy blue canvas, and I bought a pair of the Air Max 95's.
MVRemix: The lime green ones?
AG: Yeah, the gray and neon green and that's when I was like you know what now I'm doin something, I ain't gotta ask my mom no more.
MVRemix: What influenced you to pursue a career in hip-hop and journalism because I would think that is a hard field to get into?
AG: I did my internship in the spring and summer of 2000 and I was workin with the New York Knicks and the New York Liberty and I was in public relations and the public relations manager actually had me write a story and it ran in WNBA.com and I was like wow I wrote that! That's when I really got the bug for writing and I came back to Temple University in the fall and started working with Temple News and my major was broadcast television so I was like you know with writing I really don't have to go into television. So I started writing and I wasn't to confident about going into television because it was so competitive to really get into sports. I really wanted to be the next Ahmad Rashad but he's the next athlete and I'm not…as far as professional anyway. So I started writing with Slam Magazine and sticking with sports; but I always had this passion for tennis shoes because I never had them when I was younger. So I just started writing about shoes and hip-hop through my life experience and there was a publication that was new at the time called Sole Collector and they gave me a chance. I just kind of came to them like, I like your magazine but it's a little to vanilla for me it needs some flavor." I was like let me come in, I write with SLAM so let me write some stories about sports and they were like cool. I knew on my end what I could do like growing up and my experiences with football and basketball, not havin, inner city, and I also knew I had connections but you can never show your entire hand so that's how it went down.
MVRemix: I don't mean to jump but I read you got on with Nike and have interviewed everyone from Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant, and Spike Lee what has those experiences been like?
AG: Well at the end of the day they know my work but prior to them knowing my work we all know each other because we all have the same story but it's just that these are stories are little more elevated and are in the limelight. So I'm starting to gain some steam but regardless of all that we have that common bond. A lot of us are African-American, a lot of us are from the inner city, and they are into fashion and shoes that people wore back in the day watchin' it growing up emulating cats on the block all the way to Michael Jordan. So when they get to that level of success on your own or they have a shoe or they sign with Nike or something like that I already know how to come at them because they were my age too and we all group up the same way, so it's just a good feeling to help bring out their stories. I look at other magazines and they can only tell certain aspects about the story of sneakers, because if it's Sports Illustrated they're not going to put a story about sneakers in there…they might put a picture of it but I can really just blow it out and do what I want and it's a good feelin.
MVRemix: You seem like you were cut from the old school cloth, what do you miss about the old school that you could even bring back even with your writing?
AG: One of the things I think is missing in society today is the fact that the younger generation has no respect, they don't respect older, folks, younger, generation and or themselves. What I try to do with my writing is try to entertain and teach as well. A lot of the stuff I write about is my life experience…my Mom coming after me with the belt or my Grandmom yelling at me and just learning the nuances of life from people that walked the earth way before I did and I think that's missing a lot in our culture regardless of whom or what social economic class, Its kind of depressing when you look around its like what's wrong with people today? When you were younger you might of did or said bad things, but you didn't say it around the old folks, you waited until you got on the court or the playground but that's not happening so what I do is uplift, and I try to build not only through stories and entertainment but also through real life human interests about people who life next door.
MVRemix: What are you doing to make that happen and on what platform?
AG: The way I'm making that happen is through the website that's being built right now and it launches October 1st its called www.Anthonyxgilbert.com also known as AXG and in the sneaker community the X represents a collaboration so this kind of shows I'm working within myself to bring out something positive that people can look at and say I'm feelin that, or that's a different angle on something that I'm interested in. So I'm doing it through that and I'm also doing through the way that I'm trying to carry myself. I work with a AAU team of girls basketball "the Clinton Lady Magic" 14 and under National Champions and I work in the Sunny Hill John Cheaney summer camp and I just try to be a good role model. No I don't make a million dollars, no I don't drive a Mercedes and I'm not in the league, but I'm a journalist and I do have a job to do and that is to right about it talk about it and be about it. Also for those that want to learn and want to become something and make something of themselves its my job to lift them up and even those that don't want it its my job to reach out to them and that's what I'm tryin to do .
MVRemix: What is the best thing about hip-hop journalism and what is missing in hip-hop journalism?
AG: I think a lot of times in hip-hop today the stories aren't there as to where they used to be. Somebody like Rakim he would paint a picture but even if it wasn't a story it was so vivid I can go back into my memory bank and he's talking about "Diggin into my pocket and all I'm comin' up with is lint. " or "I'm tryin' to get fish which is my favorite dish but without no money its still a wish. " So it's like you relate to that. The person that's telling stories now is someone like Ghostfac,e is so vivid even though he makes up his own words you still can see it. Um Common and Mr. Nasir Jones, and its changed and that's not the norm. Where as back in the day one of the greatest groups of all time Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, I'm sorry…but they are the originators, telling stories and performing… like go back and listen to White Lines, go back and listen to Beat Street and its just like wow positive uplifting and entertaining.
MVRemix: So how do you affiliate with Ian and the Sneakersuite and how did that come about?
AG: Ian had a hunger for all things tennis shoes I mean everything and he was working for the United States Government great job right out of school engineering degree and he was like I'm watchin other people do what they love whether its tennis shoes or not and I was like you have to do something and he was like what are you gonna do? He was like man I don't know but it's about to happen. Now Ian likes to go out and party, and he likes to be on the scene so he created an atmosphere where you can where shoes to the club and also appreciate shoes as an art form which is what they are…self expression and God bless him, he is doing his thing.
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"A lot of us are African-American, a lot of us are from the inner city, and they are into fashion and shoes that people wore back in the day watchin' it growing up emulating cats on the block all the way to Michael Jordan."