As I stood in line waiting to board the 7 AM Megabus from Union Station (Washington DC) thoughts were still rushing through my mind, Man, am I crazy? This is just a bit crazy isn’t it? This is certainly not normal. Yo, is this really happening? And those were some of my more relaxed thoughts, I had spent the first 2 hours of the trip, driving from RVA to D.C., thinking to myself, What am I going to ask him and how can I get the entire interview done in just 5 minutes. And of course, reminding myself not to spend the first 4 minutes of the interview wasting time on pictures and autographs. The “him” I was referring to was the one and only Bobbito Garcia AKA Kool Bob Love AKA Bob the Baber AKA Soul Food Bob, AKA DJ Cucumberslice.
Garcia, 45, is a true legend in hip hop culture and entrepreneurial pioneer for modern culture all over the world. Let me be clear, hip hop culture is modern culture throughout the world and Bobbito Garcia has successfully transitioned his passion for the culture into a career that benefits the entire world. As a writer, DJ, radio host, and sneaker expert, Bobbito Garcia wears many hats and I was making my way up to NYC, on 3 days’ notice, to speak with him about his passions, career, and latest project, a feature film titled, “Doin’ In The Park: Pick-Up Basketball, New York City.”
I have closely followed Bobbito Garcia’s career for over 10 years. I can’t remember the first time I heard his name but as a fan of hip hop and sneakers, he has always been a person that I considered an authority on both subjects. It was only later that I became aware of his history in basketball and then I really began to understand that we shared very similar passions. I credit his career as one of the major inspirations for this blog and my success as a writer and photographer. If someone like Bobbito can turn his passions into a career, why can’t I?
So you can understand that I was excited to even be in a position to reach out to him for a Cheats Movement interview. And I was even more enthusiastic when he quickly responded with a yes and an invitation to come up to Brooklyn and see a screening of the film. Without any hesitation, I quickly accepted and started making plans to travel up to the Planet Brooklyn.
Upon my arrival to the Big Apple, I noticed that the weather was not lining up for an outdoor screening that evening. Though the weather was nice in the Lower East Side, I had heard reports of rain in BK and even worse a tornado touching down in Queens. I sent an email to Bobbito with my number just in case we could save the interview and save it we did. A few hours later, he called me and asked me to meet him in Tillary Park in Brooklyn; rain or shine. At this point, he did not have to do the interview but he did it anyway because that is his character. That’s really all you need I need to know about him as a person – he went out of his way for a stranger to do something he didn’t have to do – just because he said he would.
The following is my interview with Bobbito Garcia:
Bobbito: What up everybody and peace to Richmond. My name is Bobbito Garcia AKA Kool Bob Love, representing New York and Puerto Rico and honored to be with my man Cheats.
Cheats: How have you been able to transition your passions (DJing, Basketball, Shoes, etc.) into a career?
Bobbito: That’s a difficult question to answer in retrospect. Along the way, I really didn’t anticipate all of this happening. So much of my success comes from cross-pollinating. For example, I started at Def Jam and I use to play ball with Russell Simmons, RUN DMC, and Rakim – I started getting a rep as a ball player in the hip hop industry because I always had ill sneakers. I would have customized sneakers in 1989 – 90 it was unheard of at the time. I would paint and customize my sneakers. That led to The Source recognizing me for my sneakers and me writing an article. That article was read by the person that ultimately published my book – 13 years later she put my book out.
Then though Def Jam I met Stretch (Armstrong) and that’s how I got on the radio show (the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show) . The radio show introduced me to the whole world. And I would always shout out basketball, “Yo, I’m playing at Tillary Park tonight. I got another game tomorrow night.” So people started knowing me as a ball player…overall it’s just kept growing…Cheats so much happened.
Cheats: It sounds like a perfect NYC story. Perfect timing…
Bobbito: Cheats, I have been blessed. Now I’ve been to 35 countries and 5 continents playing ball in each and djing in each. I look back on it all and really don’t know how I was able to do it all. But I do feel blessed. I’ve been kind to so many different people and that always plays infinite dividends.
Bobbito: I really don’t know if there was a defining moment. When I was 19 years old, I played professional basketball in Puerto Rico. That was the first time that I got paid to do what I loved to do and that could have been the original seed that everything else grew from.
Cheats: And now you can add something new to the resume. You can add filmmaker. Tell me about the film and the process of making the film.
Bobbito: The film is, “Doin It In The Park: Pick Up Basketball NYC,” is co-directed by myself and Kevin Couliau. We both took our passions for basketball and film and combined them to create a really unique project. We went to 180 courts in 75 days, 90% of them on our bicycles, and because of technology, we shot the film with at Canon 5D camera, we were able to carry our equipment in our backpacks and make a proper feature film that when you see it – you’re going to bug out. The film is shot beautifully. We got phenomenal interviews; we have amazing archive footage due to the research we completed….
Cheats: And the film was all self-financed?
Bobbito: 100% self-financed. No one commissioned us to do it. Now that the film is done, we are working on distribution so that the world can see it. And hopefully it can be released in theaters and for downloads but for now we are just doing a lot of community screenings.
Cheats: What did you learn about filmmaking that you did not know before the start of this project?
Bobbito: Well, I’ve been in a lot of documentaries Cheats – Just For Kicks, Beats, Rhymes, and Life, Freshest Kids, around about 30 films – Freestyle by Kevin Fitzgerald – so I’ve learned a lot but I can’t really take credit for the film because it was truly a team effort in that regard. David Couliau, our editor, put the film in a structure that made sense to a viewing audience. I’m just a dude that knows a lot about basketball and I love to play the game.
Cheats: I know topics like legacy is tough for you to talk about – most people will end up doing that for you – but as you put things in perspective with music – with everything – what are the moments that you most proud of right now?
Bobbito: Right now I would say two things, playing professional basketball in Puerto Rico. I’m proud of that because that is my homeland; and because I’m 5’10, 160 pounds. I don’t think I was born to play pro basketball. I made that happen through hard work. That is special to me because I beat the odds by achieving that dream. I was cut from my college team 3 years in a row and the spring after that I played professional basketball. I was the second pro basketball player in my college’s history.
I would say my second might be writing the book, “Where Did You Get Those? New York City Sneaker Culture: 1960 – 1987?” I went to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and I graduated in the bottom 10% of my class. It took me a long time to have confidence as a writer and I built that confidence over the years writing for The Source, Rap Pages, and Vibe, to the point where I felt like I could take on the challenge of a book; which is a lot bigger than at 2,000 word article. It took me 4 years to put it together. It took a lot of research…so right now I would say those two but you never know because this film may be the defining thing. Film is such a bigger medium than books and I have already seen the way the audience reacts to the film. And the film is a combination of me as a DJ as well because I supervised the score of the film. I also wrote the script, so the film really combines my music skills, my writing skills, and my basketball skills. You will see me playing ball in the film.
Cheats: And I’m about to see you play ball in a minute so last question. What advice would you give to yourself 20 years ago – knowing what you know now?
Bobbito: I say this to a lot of people, just figure out what is missing and fill the void. That has been my whole career. No one did a film about pick-up basketball before, no one had written a book about sneaker culture before, on the radio show, we had Nas, Biggie, Wu Tang, Jay Z, Big L, before anyone had ever heard of them. We were just filling the void – that’s it Cheats, I’m about to run.
I had the most amazing time in NYC on Saturday. I went up to interview one of my heroes, NYC legend Bobbito Garcia (more on that later this week). Troubling weather in Queens, and later in mid-town and Brooklyn, hurt some of the activities that I had planned for the evening but overall the bad weather led to an even better trip. I was able to visit some really great places and take some amazing photos. I often joke about how much I love Brooklyn, but my recent trips to NYC have led me to believe that I’m more of a Lower East Side guy. I love the LES from Reed Space to now End of Century. Yes the End of Century gallery that is currently featured on Bravo’s Gallery Girls. I stopped by and actually met one of the owners Lara. She was mad cool and treated us really nice for visiting. My favorite photos of the trip are the ones I took of cut throat handball action. It was so intense. I also took some great streetball photos but again that will be for later this week.
NYC is truly a photographer’s dream. I love the energy and hope to visit and shoot more in NYC and beyond. Hopefully, with the growth of this blog, I will have more reasons to take special trips out of town in the future. For now, let me know what you think of these new photos.
Handball action in the LES.
Kids will be kids in Washington Square Park.
End of Century is the one of the galleries featured on Bravo’s Gallery Girls (It’s the cool one).
The very nice gallery owner Lara. She was so cool to us Southerners.
A Long Subway Goodbye
We miss you.
Reed Space Reflection
Doin’ It In The Park
NYC Subway Mixtape!
There is no doubt that this summer has been amazing for The Cheats Movement Blog. The readership growth, the events, the projects, the interviews, the new opportunities, and all the new friends have motivated me beyond belief to keep building, keep reaching, and maintaining a level of blog post that are worthy of this great city and the creative friends that I spend time highlighting. I’ve made a few sacrifices, mistakes, and had to take a few step backs in 2012 just to put everything in perspective and make sure that I’m doing the right things to achieve my goal of highlighting RVA’s creative community in a diversity and positive light. I can’t say for sure that it’s working 100% because I still meet people that honestly ask me, “Is there anything to do in this city?” But with that, I’m really humbled and appreciative of the progress and positive response to what the blog is doing and just overwhelmed with warm feelings when I get a nice note from a friend or and email from someone asking for The Cheats Movement to cover an event. It’s a bit crazy to me…I still call my sister or mom or someone just to be like, “Yo…guess what just happened.” So you could imagine how I felt this week, with summer coming to an end, and me feeling a bit overwhelmed with projects and a demanding day job that the Richmond Magazine article hit the stands. I can’t thank Richmond Magazine’s Editor Kate Andrews enough for taking time to highlight The Cheats Movement in Richmond Magazine. She was so great to come out to the Epic Group Photo to see exactly what “The Family ” is all about. Her write up is so spot on. It’s great feeling to see that and I’m not too cool for school to say publicly — articles in places like Richmond Magazine is a big deal to me and motivates me beyond belief. I don’t get many of them and I don’t take any of them for granted. As the summer comes to end…there is no stop in me – can’t stop/won’t stop/don’t know how to stop – Bad Bay 1995. Stay tuned…new stuff – BIG STUFF is coming. Make sure you pick up Richmond Magazine this month. WE SEE IT!
Don’t look know but I’m finally learning Adobe Photoshop. That’s right up until now I have been doing all of my “editing” in Adobe Lightroom. And trust me – Lightroom is amazing and I will continue to finish all my photos in Lightroom. It’s an awesome program BUT I cant deny the major things Photoshop can do. After 3 quick online lessons, I have already learn how to edit specific layers and remove items. Check out this photos and see how I completely removed the care in the middle of the street and edited the sky! Once I get Photoshop down – it’s going to be a problem!
I first met photographer Marc Schmidt a few months back while covering the G40 Art Summit. I was determined to crush the G40 for The Cheats Movement. I wanted to have the best photos – best features – best everything – but I noticed everywhere I was going I always saw the same guy either before me or after me killing photos. After a while, I walked up to him and introduced myself. Being that we share the same first name it was pretty obvious from the beginning that Marc and I were going to be cool.
Marc started shooting photography around 7 years ago – around the same time that his son was born – and his skills have grown “almost” as fast as his boy. Marc has a diverse portfolio. He shoots art, bands, portraits, board sports, just about anything he can. He is working a lot with two speedlights right now and doing some really different stuff in RVA.
Despite my goal of crushing everything – Marc Schmidt is the guy who crushed G40. His dope images were everywhere and all of them were amazing. He was the first person I called to shoot the Cheats Movement Family Photo. Marc is available and willing to work in RVA for a really reasonable rate. Check out his great stuff at: http://scratch1019.wix.com/1eyephotography#!home/mainPage Contact Marc at: email@example.com
Marc at the Cheats Movement Family Photo. Thanks Marc!
All artist living and working in Richmond understand the challenge of being fully accepted in this town. I have often heard that RVA is even more critical to home grown talent than most other places. I’m not sure if that is 100% the case, but I know gaining a dedicated fan base in RVA is not easy. That is why I’m so excited to see the excitement currently surrounding my friend and very talented artist Hamilton Glass, aka HAM?. HAM? has taken 2012 by storm. He has been killing work all over RVA: the RVA Street Art Festival, the G40 Art Summit, murals, gallery shows, and even skateboards. HAM? has been on point. And it’s cool to see RVA starting to take notice and support his work. At his most recent art opening, a solo show for West Coast Kix, there were people from all over that came to check out his display. His work is powerful and pleasing at the same time.
Spending time with HAM?, and his family, has allowed me to see the effort it takes for a major artist to be successful. It’s a merger between talent and opportunity. HAM? defiantly has the talent, it is nice to see that he is starting to get more opportunities. Be sure to check out his display this month at West Coast Kix and visit his web site: whosham.com.
The crowd far exceeded what was anticipated last Saturday at Dominion River Rocks. There is no doubt the attendance was helped by another glorious RVA day. I must say, as much as RVA is a trending hippster town, there has always been strong support for hiking, climbing, running, and all the outdoor events that River Rocks brought to Browns Island last weekend. I was extremely impressed with the slack line competition. Slack line is definitely a reminder that I’m getting older and there is a generation of kids that are growing up with cool things that I never had. In addition to slack line, competitive wall climbing, and bike jumping, River Rocks brought a ton of cool things to RVA: air dog competition, mud runs, food vendors, and of course, live music. One of the best live bands in the world closed out Saturday night, the one and only Galactic from New Orleans. I was unable to make it back down to the island on Sunday so my photos are from all day Saturday. Check them out and let me know what you think.
Yesterday, I dropped by the Earth Day celebration in Manchester to catch Noah-O performing on Style Weekly’s main stage. Noah-O, joined by the lovely Lela Bizz, brought some hip hop and R&B to a stacked musical line-up featuring some of RVA’s most popular indie rock band (The Trillions and Diamond Center – both friends of the blog also preformed).
Noah didn’t disappoint – bringing that Charged Up Ent. energy to the stage – working the crowd – and really representing for hip hop music. Both Noah and Lela Bizz are featured in this week’s Style Weekly music issue. I’m happy to see Style recognizing their talent.
The RVA Street Art Festival is underway. Ed Trask has brought to RVA some of the best artists from around the country and they are doing it at the Shockoe Bottom Flood Wall Power Plant (the part of the flood wall right by Black Finn). I went down twice yesterday to take the first round of Cheats Movement Photos. I will be down there again today — it’s a great day – check it out.
“As I traveled around the city this week, I noticed crowds of Richmonders viewing, photographing, and discussing the new art on display. I heard those conversations pivot from artist and murals to conversations about music, hobbies, and neighborhoods. I believe that the vibe surrounding the sudden growth of public art in Richmond has some parallels to those early days of hip hop culture in New York City. Of course, these aforementioned art projects aren’t as rebellious, but the early days of hip hop weren’t about breaking the law, they were about expression and finding an identity. It was about creativity and pride in where one comes from.1
I have lived in Richmond all my life. I take great pride in the city and the progress that it has made, particularly in the last 15 years, with the reduction in violent crime and a growing city population. I am truly excited about the renaissance of art and culture that is starting to take place this summer. Richmond has a real opportunity to rebrand itself as a hotspot for art, music, and culture. But the fact remains that Richmond’s history still cast a huge shadow over progressive progress, and forging any type of new identity will be met with old-time opposition.
I believe the latest controversy on Monument Avenue is a strong example of the challenges that face RVA moving forward.”
Visit RVANews.com for the full article.
Check out the final photos of Pixel Pancho’s first mural titled, “Kiss From The Space,” as a part of the G40 Art Summit. This mural is on 7th W. Grace Street. I’ve heard that Pixel is doing at least 1 maybe 2 more murals.
January 8, 2012: Trust me I understand the new year – new attitude mentality. I’m a strong believer in that concept — people (myself included) need to hit the reset button from time to time and focus on change and self-improvement. However, it’s never good to make a “FLOOD” of new year changes — flooding yourself with pressure will only burst your pipes — and before you know it — everything has gotten away from you. So my advice for myself — and anyone who cares — is to to take a walk. An actual walk is the best — but if you can’t physically get away — a mental walk of relaxation will do too. Take 20-30 minutes a day to control the flood of what’s going on around you. Don’t try to do too much change all at once — focus and “stay focused” on achieving your goals. It can be done!