Karmaloop just caught up with hip hop legend and sneaker aficionado DJ Clark Kent. He takes us back to hip hop’s competitive edge, some of his most memorable moments with Jay-Z and Biggie, the inspiration behind his 112 colorways, and more.
What’s one of your greatest memories when working with Jay-Z back in the day?
One day when I am came to his studio to record and only after listening to music for about 15 minutes he said, “Yo I’m ready,” and I was like ready for what? Then he said “Ready to record.”
It was crazy to me he already knew what he was going to say without writing it down, most people have to write something down before jumping in the booth ready to record. Later on I understood how he did but just imagine being there for the first time. I have never seen anybody do it like that before.
How would you compare Biggie to Jay-Z?
It’s funny because I feel like they’re the same. They were competitive, gifted, and wanted to be the best. When I started hearing Biggie it was crazy, it was all about his voice and sound.
Both Jay-Z and Biggie are both lyrically gifted rappers from Brooklyn and when they met each other it pushed them even harder to be the best. At that time Jay-Z was the illest and nobody could touch him, but big was coming up and it just made them both greater.
Can you tell me about your relationship with Maffew Ragazino?
I knew Maffew since he was about 15-years-old and I thought he was really talented. When I first heard voice he sounded as good as his rhymes. His rhymes just make me want to do work for him just like Fred the Godson and CurT@!n$. Those three guys stay with good rhymes and it nothing to them. I would stand up for them any day.
You are a hip-hop legend, have been on the forefront when this all started. What have you grown to learn about the industry?
In the music business the music comes first, it’s about making good music. In hip-hop today being a talented MC doesn’t really matter as long as you make good music.
For example, how lyrically talented is Wiz Khalifa? Is he one of the best MC’s out right now? No. But can he make good records? Yeah. When people hear him they like him, he makes good songs. I can’t knock anybody who is making good music I just wish that guys who make good music can be lyrically gifted at the same time.
Do you think rap is losing its competitiveness?
Rap started with competiveness and now there’s no competitiveness, they should push to be the best. Like when you look at Pusha T, he’s definitely one of the best MC’s of rap right now; all he has to do is become one of the best rappers of rap.
What is the difference between an MC and a rapper?
An MC’s main focus is the lyrics and a rapper is someone who can take that lyric and make it have a great sound or great picture. Tupac Shakur wasn’t a great MC but he was a great rapper. When you look at him as a rapper, his total package was unbelievable because when he rhymed people believe damn near everything he said and half of it wasn’t really true.
Think of how many people are great rappers but there aren’t a bunch of great MC’s.
Who do you think is the best rapper out right now?
The greatest mc is the best rapper right now Jay-Z. He is the best because he puts both of those together and they come out perfectly. He paints his pictures vividly you don’t have to say the best rhymes to make the best records.
Do you think Kanye West is a good MC?
When Kanye started he was a great rapper but he wasn’t a good MC. But now from College Dropout to where he is now, he’s a great MC and his lyrics are so much better. when he started rapper he was a great rapper but he wasn’t a good mc but now from college drop out to where he is now he is a better mc his lyrics are so much better.
You’re also a legend in the sneaker world, what are some of your favorites?
To name a few: Air Force Ones, Air Max 1, Lebron 7, New Balance 576, New Balance 1300, and New Balance 1500.
What’s the inspiration behind the “112 Colorway”?
At the end of the day, every shoe I create has a story, each would basically be related to where I came am from Brooklyn, New York. 112 is the name of the colorway and represents Brooklyn because only Brooklyn zip codes start with 112.
Tell me about the sneaker’s you designed for Lebron in the past few years.
I did a package for Lebron last year for his friendship with Jay-Z (Lebron 7’s). The sneakers came with a watch, special bag and the shoe was all black everything. It came with a special bag the shoe was all black everything I designed it just for Jay-Z and Lebron. I also did the 112’s for Lebron and his friends. I also put in a denim jacket to go with the shoes!