The release of the Jordan 11 kickstarted DJ Skee’s sneaker obsession.  

“When I first saw them and saw the ad, it was the most beautiful shoe and physical clothing item I had ever seen in my life,” DJ Skee says during an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “From that moment on, I’ve been obsessed with collecting.”

DJ Skee narrates and co-executive-produced the recently released Sneakerheadz documentary, which is now available on iTunes, Amazon and Vimeo and will be released on DVD on Black Friday (November 27) via Amazon. The film features interviews with Wale, who also executive produced the film; actor-comedian Mike Epps; Jeff Staple, designer of the Nike Pigeon Dunk, which resales for $5,500; and Frank “The Butcher” Rivera, sneaker designer and entrepreneur, among others. 

David T. Friendly, who wrote, produced and directed Sneakerheadz, is an acclaimed feature film producer whose credits include Doctor Dolittle, Big Momma’s House and the Oscar-winning Little Miss Sunshine. As he looked for new projects, he had his sights set on a different type of film.

“I always wanted to do a documentary but I couldn’t find anything that I thought would hold my attention long enough,” Friendly says during an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “I was very interested in the passionate subculture of people that collect kicks, that design kicks and I was drawn to this world that connects Hip Hop, fashion, sports and history. I couldn’t think of many things that actually do that and the truth is all those things are part of the sneaker world.”

When telling the Sneakerheadz story, Friendly wanted to make sure that he was able to humanize the culture’s participants.

“I think there’s a misconception about people who are really into kicks,” he says. “People think of them as hoarders or crazy materialistic consumers. But the truth of it is, the people that are really into this world are very artistic, very creative. They know their stuff. They are very aware of who’s designing what and what they want to collect.

“I was hoping that after people see this, they wouldn’t just shake their heads at people camping out for days at a time to get a pair of kicks,” Friendly continues. “They would have a deeper understanding of why people are doing that. That was my ambition, what I was after.” 

“Sneakerheadz” Features A Tribe Called Quest & Lupe Fiasco Songs

Given sneaker culture’s direct connection to Hip Hop culture, Sneakerheadz features several Rap songs, including A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?” and Lupe Fiasco’s “Me and My Sneakers.” The film’s music supervisor, Kathy Nelson, used her connections from years of experience in the film world to get a relevant Public Enemy song for Sneakerheadz.

“I was able to get Chuck D and Gary G-Wiz to re-record ‘Politics Of The Sneaker Pimps,’ which was one that I couldn’t otherwise clear or afford,” Nelson, who has worked on more than 200 films including as music supervisor on Fast & Furious and American Gangster, says during an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “Fortunately, I’ve been working in the music and film business since the late ’80s, so I was either involved in some of these songs back then or still know a lot of the artists and publishers.”

Even with the close ties between music and sneakers, DJ Skee likens the modern sneaker collector to members of older generations who collected baseball cards. He also says collecting sneakers taught him early business and economics practices, including supply and demand, and the importance of buying low and selling high. 

DJ Skee says that Friendly was able to tell the story of sneakerheads in such a way that anyone could appreciate the culture.

“He wanted to tell the story both as an authentic sneakerhead, but also to appeal to and explain to everyone that has no idea about what this culture is,” DJ Skee says. “He was able to really bridge that gap.”

The Sneakerheadz trailer is as follows: