Who Am I?
Over the next few blogs, I will introduce my viewpoints about the culture that raised me. My purpose is to highlight the culture’s influence on like-minded people and how they react to different stimuli. I am a 40-year-old black man raised in one of the largest cities in the US. I grew up on hip-hop, sneakers, tech and sports. Since the early 90s, I’ve watched these areas grow more and more in popularity and importance. As a result, these communities (hip-hop, sneakers, tech and sports) have developed their own culture, rules and norms.
These communities along with my upbringing cultivated my thoughts about life and how I interact with the world. Let me speak on my experiences in these sub cultures. Hip-hop fan since the mid 90s. Sneaker lover since the mid-late 90s. I’ve been immersed in technology since the early 90s from video games to computers and dial-up internet. It’s been incredible to see hip-hop transform from just being played on BET and MTV at certain times of the day, to becoming the most popular genre in the world. Similarly, the sneaker culture has also had its own up and down periods of popularity. Nowadays, “sneaker heads” buying shoes as a commodity for profit has become as prominent as having love for the design or nostalgia. The world has never seemed smaller thanks to advances in technology. Going back to my original post speaking about my preference to observe I’ve watched far more than participated in the culture. I’m not a rapper or producer so I’ve just listened and collected a lot of hip-hop. With my hometown not being a mecca for hip-hop, a lot of my participation in the culture has happened online. Technology has given me the opportunity to stay connected to hip hop because it has made it much more accessible. As a result, my musical palette grew. I had an East Coast foundation based on what was mainstream (radio and TV), and I also relied on magazines to learn about new music. Once I got to college, discovering the underground scene (Rawkus, Def Jux, Lyricist Lounge, Slum Village, etc.) introduced me to artists I never would’ve been able to listen to. The internet also allowed people to do uncommon things to gain the musical spotlight.
Let’s move over to sneakers, I worked at a shoe store in the late 90s and early 2000s while in school. I bought shoes and was able to get my hands on some classics, but I was limited to the selection around me, because Indiana isn’t a mecca for sneaker culture. Moving through my 20s, I get introduced to the online sneaker culture and discover another world that goes beyond Jordans, Air Maxes and shelltoes. SB's and New Balances start sharing space in my sneaker brain now. I get married, get paid then go really crazy on shoe copping. Social media is now in the mix. It becomes a thing to show off what you got. At first, people are sharing knowledge, trading and selling on a small level and impressing their “friends.” It then morphs into stunts, bragging about what you got and not having your own voice. As blogs grew in popularity, people began to only speak on what’s popular online versus what they truly liked.
When it comes to sports, I’m a major basketball and football fan. I grew up in the 90s so I have a love/hate relationship with Jordan as a Pacers fan. The Colts were also-rans until Peyton came on board. I’ve always dug into the stats and nuance of the games as my passion increased. As my online presence increased, I found like-minded people to go back and forth with as it relates to sports. I think we were all influenced by the debate show culture popularized by PTI and First Take. It became about winning the conversation as aggressively as possible. Why do I give all this background? It informs me with my analysis of the culture. Technology is one of the through lines in this discussion.
By making the world smaller, I was able to engage with people all over the country and even other parts of the world. One day, I can be talking about an Air Max 1 released 7 years ago to a guy in the UK. The next day, I’m talking about Madlib vs DJ Premier on a discussion board with a guy in Kansas. I’ve spent a lot of my life online since the mid 90s. In many ways, it’s a part of my real life just like my wife and daughter. Family holds more weight but it’s a piece of my puzzle. In that manner, there are plenty of things I have done “for the culture”. There are a lot of people who sacrificed their blood, sweat and tears on behalf of these various cultures. This has created a lot of enjoyment but also a lot of frustration when you don’t receive what you put in.
In my next post, I want to get into what we mean by the phrase “for the culture.”
By K Miles II