L.A. is back on the hip hop map with the launch of MC Damani’s adidas EQT B-Ball Low. Not since the Doggy Biscuit crumbs left by Snoop Dogg, has a West Coast rapper received so much attention without ever releasing an official album. With the dawn of a new political climate influencing Damani’s collaboration, we caught up with the ‘unsigned hype’ to get the low low on Inglewood and working with the three stripe masters. Congratulations Playa!
How long have you been in the MC game now for Damani?
I’ve been in the game since 2001.
You rep Inglewood hard, along with West Coast cats Dre and Snoop among many others. Are you about bringing the vibe back to Inglewood to a new generation of hip hop heads?
Snoop reps Long Beach, Dre reps Compton and I feel I gotta be the one in Inglewood to rep the new generation. There’s a lot of new talent there and I pretty much know everyone and I’m for everyone at the same time.
What is it about Inglewood? We had NYC with their five boroughs, NWA and Death Row reppin’ the West Coast in their heyday, and the explosion of Dirty South in Miami…
What’s dope about Inglewood is the location, the history and the melting-pot of people that live there and are from there. From Paul Pierce to Sonny Bono, to Damani back to Tyra Banks. The Lakers home-played in Inglewood when they won back-to-back championships, and as far as hip hop goes, what I’m going to do is help highlight the people that need to be highlighted through my success.
You dropped your first instalment of the ‘Congratulations Player’ mixtape in 2007 to critical acclaim, with legends like Snoop, Swizz Beats and Too Short singing your praises. How has your career progressed in the last two years since then?
Well since the first Congratulations Playa mixtape, I have written songs for some of hip hop’s top artists today, been on tour in and out of the United States, and completely took a major step forward in building the Damani brand.
How then did adidas come on board to collab with you on the second instalment?
It was kinda crazy how me and adidas hooked up. My name was thrown around amongst a couple other rappers that were also in the category of new dope rappers. One of the adidas reps really got into my style and my mixtape, then gave me a shot at designing a shoe to make a long story short. I actually decided to do part two to the mixtape series and they agreed to be a part of it with me to help launch the shoe.
Why did you choose the EQT B-Ball shoe for your collab?
Actually they chose the EQT and I agreed.
Your EQT seems to be inspired by lux brands via the rich colourways – was this intentional? How did you work through the ideas to land on the final outcome?
I decided on the colors based on the month and the current state of events in America. It being the month of February, which is Black History Month for us and Obama becoming president, I decided to go with red, black and green which are the colors that represent my culture. Working with adidas helped me realize how much work goes into marketing, planning an event and how technical the corporate world is.
As a footwear company, the brand has worked alongside very few hip-hop artists in the past, notably Run DMC and Missy Elliott, both of which have left a massive legacy on the company.
Those are big shoes to follow behind. What I plan to do is stay dope on the mic and do my best to be the best. I’ll expand on the collab as much as they want to. I’m definitely a fan and will be past this.
Tell us about the launch party that you threw down last weekend…how was the turnout and were you happy with the outcome?
The launch party was so much fun. There were a lot of rappers, food, music, girls, and we damn near sold out of shoes that day. I was completely satisfied with the outcome. I got a lot of support from my city.
How is the sneaker scene in LA at the moment? Do you see it growing or has the trend become a little stagnant?
The sneaker scene in LA is definitely alive and kickin…if yo’ shoes ain’t right, you ain’t right! In a nutshell…it’s growing and it’s not going anywhere in my opinion.
What’s coming up next for you?
The next thing for me is performing all over the country and abroad, putting out the Congratulations Playa album, creating more opportunities outside of rap, and overall just making the Damani brand stronger. You can follow me on MySpace, CongratulationsPlayer.com and Damanitelevision.
Download the Congratulations Playa x adidas mixtape here