Big Philly’s Sneaker World

It’s not often we come across an individual that wears many hats and truly wears them all to the fullest. Meet Big Philly the MC, Radio Host, DJ, Writer and Sneakerhead. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, someone like Big Philly comes along and gives you a tap on the shoulder to remind you that some kicks can’t be put into words. Just like in the Matrix when Morpheus told Neo, “You have to see it for yourself.”

How did you got into sneakers?
I guess it is one of those things that kind of snowballed. In 2000/2001 they retro’d the Air Jordan XIs for the first time and I remember when I was a kid I would see him playing in those shoes and those were always my favourite. So, when they brought them out again and I had my first job I saved up and got them. Then it just became one of those things that once you get one you have to get it in another colour. Then it comes out in another model then it just keeps on going!

So the Jordan XI is your favourite sneaker?
I was talking to my boy about this the other day. It used to be the Concord Air Jordan XI (for some reason I didn’t bring with me today) which was like my all time favourite Air Jordan (as he points to the group of sneakers he brought with him to the interview). It switched to the Grape Air Jordan V, then it switched to the Aqua Air Jordan VIII and then to the Bordeaux Air Jordan VII. It kept switching and switching, but then they made retro versions of all those sneakers, so… I don’t know… I kind of lost a little bit of interest in them… I don’t know why. But, I don’t have a favourite now I can’t pick one! I think that I just have an overall appreciation for a lot of different ones.

“Rarely, you might catch me buying a pair of Adidas or Reeboks.”

Would you say that the Air Jordan line is your favourite line of sneakers?
Yeah… Yeah I think so. I think about the Air Jordan brand + the shoes and what it represents with its relationship with music, especially hip-hop; I think I’m always going to have a connection to it. I mean I mess with other Nikes like Air Max and Air Force 1s of course. Rarely, you might catch me buying a pair of Adidas or Reeboks. But, generally speaking I will stick with Air Jordan and Nike.

Do you have any animosity when there is a Jumpman on the back of these re-released Jordans as apposed to the orignial Nike Air Jordans?
I prefer the “Nike Air”. I guess that’s an old school mentality or response, but I mean that’s the way it started off. So, I like to see the “Nike Air” on the back, but at the same time I understand that there is a whole new generation of sneakerheads and people buying shoes. I guess… I guess Jordan and Nike want to replicate it and bring back the old shoe, but kind of respect the older cats like the collectors that have the shoes with the Nike on the back, so they will change little minor details. So, the shoe comes back, but you know… The Jumpman on the back, it kind of updates the shoe a bit. But, it also kind of preserves the legacy of the older shoe and what people grew up on.

How many kicks are in your collection?
I don’t have an exact number (laughs) and I’m not trying to say that to boast, but it’s over 200 and it’s under 400. It’s kind of a big ballpark, but yeah I know it is somewhere in there.

Is it just random shoes…?
I would say probably 75 to 80 percent Jordan and then 5 percent Air Force 1, 5 percent Air Max. How much is that like 90 percent now? (laughs) I have some Timbs, some random Adidas, Reeboks and some Wallabees. But, the majority is definitely Jordan and Air Max.

Do you have every Air Jordan from number one to the present one?
I stopped at XXIII. Well, the series stopped at XXIII so I have 1 through to XXIII. I didn’t really get into the fusion ones.

When you know you’re going to be doing a 4 or 5 hour set which shoe do you reach for knowing that you’re going to be on your feet for a long time?
I really don’t take that into account and I should because that would explain why my feet hurt at the end of the night! But, a lot of times when I’m doing parties and I’m on the mic or I’m DJ’ing (pauses and laughs) in the winter time I may be in boots which is really uncomfortable. I’ll just throw on a pair of Red Wings or ACG Nike boots and usually that will get me through the night. In the summertime, I will go for something more comfortable like if I’m at a bar or a lounge, I might not wear anything white or something that might get stained, so I will pick something black or something that I can just wipe off. Winter time it is definitely about function, so Red Wings or ACG boots and in the summertime it’s open format. I will go with something comfortable.

Have you ever suffered from sneaker envy?
(laughs) Yeah I have… The Yeezys… The Nike Air Yeezy. The first ones that came out… Well, the only that have come out so far… I want those… I don’t have those. I really like them a lot! I will take them in any colorway, so if you know anyone that is selling them at a reasonable price, which no one does of course! I definitely want those. That is one shoe in recent memory that I didn’t have a chance to get my hands on that I really want to get. I saw a guy in the Yeezys! (laughs) I don’t know if they
were real or not, but I saw a guy in them and I was like DAMN!

Is there any other shoe besides the Yeezys that you missed out on?
There was one shoe, it’s a newer shoe that I totally had a chance to get and I just dropped the ball: The Titanium XXIIIs, probably one of the most sought after Jordans. Goodfoot got them, I had a couple friends over there (when they were open) and one of my boys hit me up. He said “The Titaniums are coming out and we’re only getting a few pairs, do you want a pair?” I thought about it and I asked how much are they and he said about $230 or whatever they were and I said “Nah, I’m just going to pass on them”. The release date came and went. Some of my friends camped out overnight in various spots in the city to get a pair… I just went to bed. Of course the rest is kind of history. Now I see that shoe on ebay going for $1500 or $2000. It’s just one of those shoes … One of the most sought after Jordans and I could have got them. I regret that now!

Tell us about these orange Reebok Pumps
These are the Alife Reebok Pump collabo… The Michael Chang Pump… I think it’s called the “Court Victory”, these came out about 5 or 6 years ago I think. They came out in white and neon green like the tennis ball material and of course these orange ones (as he is showing the sneaker to us). They were pretty limited, I think they only released in the Alife store in New York, but I actually got this pair from Goodfoot. My girl actually got these for me about 5 or 6 years ago for Christmas for me. I haven’t worn these yet actually… I don’t really know how I’m going to pull these off. This orange is really bright and I’m not going to wear an orange shirt so I’m going to have to really plan this one out. But eventually I will probably give them some wear…

How much is too much for you when it comes to the price of sneakers?
I want to say $500 (laughs)… I don’t know, it’s tough. I guess it really depends on how much disposable income I have at that point in-time and how much I want it. I know like the Galaxy Foamposites just came out and they are going for $1500 to $2000 on ebay and I would never pay that for that sneaker, but if I had tons of extra money and it was something I liked I may consider it at that time depending on my situation. But, in terms of a ceiling I will say to be determined…

What are your top 5 kicks of all time?
Ok, 5? (laughs) I will throw the Foamposite in as a new school addition. Then, we will go with Jordan V. The Air Force 1… Low cut, not High or Mid… Low cut! The forth one would be the Jordan III and the last one I would say is the Jordan XI.

So besides Jordan, who would you say has the best sneaker line?
(Scottie) Pippen had a couple back in the day. I would definitely throw Penny Hardaway in there because he had a couple of good shoes that are still relevant to this day. As a curveball and a personal pick, I will throw Shaq in the mix. I have always been a Shaq fan from day one.

So you’re saying Shaq’s sneaker catalog was better than Charles Barkley’s 180 Air Max?
No, I wouldn’t say that! Barkley had the 180s, he had the CB4s… Yeah, Barkley is up there too!

If you saw a pair of Shaqnosis would you buy them?
Yeah, I would for the right price and nostalgic reasons, definitely. Even the Shawn Kemp “Kamikaze” (Reebok) were good around that time as well, that was a really strong shoe when it came out.

Is there a sneaker brand that you feel is underrated?
I think that New Balance has a lot of great sneakers. They get recognition of course because they are a huge brand, a HUGE international brand. But, I feel like they get the image of being a walking shoe or an old man’s shoe. Something for a marathon runner or a gymnast type thing.

Which DJ, MC or industry person, seeing that you are in that industry do you feel has a really tight sneaker game?
There are a lot of people that really have some sneakers. 2 people that definitely come to mind are my homie Q that used to run Goodfoot who is still doing things around the city. He has a crazy collection, he always had every sneaker from the hype releases to the general releases he always had everything and always had access to stuff. Whenever I think of a sneaker collection I think of Q he is definitely synonymous with that. If I had to pick an actual DJ, I think I’m going to hurt some people’s feelings (laughs) it is hard to narrow it down, but I would say Riccachet… DJ Riccachet from the Sweet Touch Foundation. He always has great sneakers.

You can pick more than one…
Oh ok, then you can add his brother Paul “Thera-P” in there as well. My brother Royale has a small collection, but it’s very, very hot! Quality shoes. He had a bigger number back in the day and kind of skimmed it down a little, but it’s nothing but heat. My boy Marco (Committee Design) has a very good collection, a lot of heat. I know that there are quite of few people that I see on the regular that have great shoe collections that I’m forgetting and will be cheesed that I forgot them. But, there is a lot of people out there so I’m going to forget names regardless.

It’s ok…they know who they are!

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  • Peter Hewitt

    Big Philly has a dope shoe selection…

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Sole Theory is a sneaker lifestyle guide that explores the social impact of the sneaker culture. Users can expect to gain insight on recent trends, historic brands and signature styles that have heavily influenced the shoe industry. Content will be driven by articles, interviews and reviews that will uncover interesting facts and stories that have rarely been told.