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Rodolfo Franklin, aka DJ Clark Kent, doesn’t like to call himself a tastemaker.
The music producer, who’s created classic tracks for hip-hop heavyweights such as Jay-Z and also has collaborated with Nike on more than 40 sneaker projects, prefers to keep a low profile.
“I don’t know if I’m a tastemaker,” Franklin said. “I’m just a guy from Brooklyn who likes fresh stuff.”
When Pro-Keds needed a spokesperson for its Brooklyn Dodgers-inspired Royal Master sneaker, it called upon the emcee to dole out 42 pairs (for Jackie Robinson’s jersey number) to people of his choosing.
Here, the Brooklyn-bred DJ talks about his love for kicks, the best sneaker shops and what New York basketball team has his allegiance.
Earliest sneaker memory:
“First name-brand pair of sneakers I got was given to me by my uncle, the guy who let me become a DJ. It was actually a pair of black Pro-Keds. As soon as I got those, I just wanted more. We would go to Glenwood Flea Market, a great flea market in Brooklyn at the time, and get some sneakers for $9 and try not to get robbed or anything like that on the way back.”
One song I can’t live without:
“Ecstasy” by Ohio Players. “It’s the best record I’ve ever heard. I can listen to it over and over again. The emotion in it is great.”
Knicks or Nets?
Knicks. “I think it’s phony to all of a sudden be a Nets fan if I wasn’t a fan last year or in the past five or 10 years. I’m a true Knicks fan, but I do respect the fact that Brooklyn has a basketball team. Name another borough that has a basketball team. Respectfully, it’s a really great feeling. But I would be way more excited if it was the Brooklyn Knicks.”
Best party I ever DJ’d:
“I haven’t done it yet. I play all the time, and I’ve seen some amazing parties. I did New Year’s Eve in London at an airplane hangar with 25,000 people. I played Hong Kong with 4,000 people and Japan with 6,000 people. As long as I keep DJ’ing, I don’t think I’ve played my best party yet.”
Musician I wish I’d met:
Marvin Gaye. “His voice was unexplainable. He made his voice part of the instruments and it’s just insane. He was the truth.”
Best sneaker shops in New York:
“21 Mercer. Flight Club seems like it has one of every shoe made. There’s a place on Fulton Street called Quickstrike that’s dope. Back in the day, there were a lot more shops.”