Sneaker Pimps, a possible name for a gang of tweens in bright clothes and a misguided perspective for hip-hop music, is actually a traveling convention for sneakerheads. No not that type of convention that is assumed to be full of costume wearing geeks, who recently escaped the only light source they know, their computer screen, to converse with forum cohorts, in a fictional language, about a possible movie remake. Yes this does happen and yes some of these ‘geeks’ you may not want bagging your groceries, but conventions are more than just a costume party. It’s a sanctuary where people can forget about their differences and celebrate the few commonalities that brought them together.
Sneaker Pimps itself is a sacred arena for all sneakerhead subcultures to come together and share thoughts and experiences. It also serves as a secondary market to buy, trade and sell prized pieces of your respectable collection. SP travels from city to city, country to country, followed by household vendors like Footaction, NBA Jam, New Era, et cetera, as well as local clothing lines and custom sneaker design boutiques looking to create some buzz in the streetwear realm. The selling point of the convention however, has transitioned to the headlining musical performances. Plenty of commercial and underground artists have graced the SP stage in the past, but for many of us, including myself, that is not why we bought an SP ticket.
I first heard about the December show in New York from my confidant
Intell Hazefield, and got my tickets the same day with the anticipation of a young me on Christmas Eve. The bill was out of this world for $20; Ghostface, Redman, Curren$y, Diggy Simmons, 9th Wonder, Kid Daytona and Sheek. Then the disappointment arrived as if I seen my Pops stealing Santa’s Vanilla Wafers. It seemed as if each day someone different fell of the bill. It went from a Rock the Bells line up to Officer Roozay headlining with Curren$y, Diggy Simmons along with the help of some unsigned talent. This is New York! I’m sure that night there was 25 damn good artists exploring their mind’s capacity in their Brooklyn apartment, eating Ramen noodles and writing a sixteen. I was a little upset, but fuck it, I was going for the costumes and geeky forum chat.
We arrived at the venue early, and of course the line was deep, but honestly, I enjoyed myself the most that night waiting in line. Granted the New York winter had me shivering in my Optimus Prime Cross Trainers, but with the block full of sneaker heads alike in presumably their finest footwear, my heart couldn’t have been warmer. It was almost like a coming of age for sneaker heads. I thought to myself that night, as a kid I heard of people getting shot for their Jordans and now we’re organized, with traveling events for us to unite peacefully and share our love. We were intermingling, networking if you will, socializing with fiends we made in line about their collections, our own, what’s coming out, what we want to see, basically everything that is said on internet forums and comments under your favorite fashion blog post. It was blissful. I felt safe and understood. I especially enjoyed grading the footwear in attendance, and honestly, straight up playing the dozens on unsuspecting attendees. Front of the line and time to party!
My anticipation reached its height once we got to the entrance, and as if the next act in this magical adventure was a disappearance trick, my expectations quickly vanished. Three hundred pound bouncers greeted me at the front door, with cold eyes and large hands feeling me up and down for a concealed object, I hope. That whole coming of age thing now seemed more like reaching puberty. Once I got in the venue, which by the way changed two days before the date of the show, the “convention” seemed more like a nightclub that had a sneaker theme for the evening (actually, that’s exactly what it was). The main level featured the stage, and a wall of artistically altered sneakers (Pictures courtesy of Intell Hazefield). The wall was fascinating. You could really see the amount of time and sweat that went into designing those sculptures. The 2nd floor was tight. Tightly packed that is. The few vendors that were in attendance posted up there. The designated area for the videogame vendors, NBA Jam and Def Jam whatever, allowed anyone to try out their latest installments. The 2nd floor also allowed a few start-up clothing lines and customizing boutiques to boast their work. I’ll be honest, they were surprisingly weak. Basic graphic tees with retired sports legends and catchy sneaker lyrics were the typical brands I did not want to see. The custom design shops, compared to the wall of artwork downstairs, will have to step their game up to compete. And that’s it. I mean there was a third floor, but I was denied access for whatever reason. VIP I suppose, but from what I saw, it was full of dudes in dress shoes and females in heels. Wrong party!
I’ll briefly speak on the musical acts in attendance, only because they briefly touched the mic. The unsigned hype was pretty sub par for New York. Diggy Simmons came out and performed a few songs, which was everything but cute. He has excellent stage presence, got the crowd into it and even spit a cappella. I hate to say this, but he was the best performance I seen that night. [Editor’s Note: If we don’t talk, he will go away] The only other signed act that I saw was Rick Ross. He obviously got the crowd excited with “hits” like MC Hammer and BMF, but before you could say Correctional Officer, he was off the stage en route to perform at a nightclub in Saratoga, NY, three hours upstate. From what I heard, he performed a set much longer than the one at SP. “Mmmmmmhm What up wit that!?”
So I was obviously unimpressed by the vendors, musicians and overall display of the exhibition. Needless to say I was looking forward to the kicks portion. However, as I anxiously waited for three hours in the cramped New York nightclub, I didn’t come across a single transaction. I didn’t even see anyone actively trying to barter their valuables. In fact, out of the few hundred people, maybe five were carrying a piece of their collection to presumably trade or sell. No auctions, no best in show, no informative news, nothing! That is fucking redic’lous. Imagine going to comic-con, siked for the aesthetics, only to show up to see no celebs, no costumes, just some action figures and a performance you’d expect to see at a community college. You better get the riot squad down there stat, because Jedi’s will be f’ing the empire up!
In retrospect, Sneaker Pimps needs to step their shit up and come correct! They need to revamp their design, and make their convention more conducive for the sneaker heads that are in attendance for, what else, SNEAKERS! Otherwise they might as well change their name to Pimps, because they pimped me out of my $20 that night. Guess there’s always dunkxchange.
Editor’s Note: In slight defense of SP, I want to give a shout out to the Australian Founder cat Peter Fahey; Atti Finch and crew couldn’t even make into the building and the dude was mad apologetic about it and answered our email pretty quickly; however, we’ll save the SP coverage for you tween correspondents next year – ya dig?