Coming off a performance at Powerhouse Philly and prepping for a trip to Dubai, Fat Joe asks for a Splenda for what could easily be his first or his fifth iced coffee of the day. Celebrating his Jordan year in the rap game, the 23-year industry vet shows no signs of fatigue as he’s beaming inside the doors of his soon to open UP NYC sneaker store and gallery.
Located in Washington Heights, the boutique birth scheduled for November 5th serves as a show and prove moment for one of the biggest OGs in the sneaker game. Populated with PEs, racked up with restocks and set to host famous friends ranging from DJ Khaled to Derek Jeter, Joe and business partner Scotty Spina are rolling out the red carpet for a grand opening event sneakerheads will truly have to see to believe. We caught up with Joe to hear just how the shop came together, its museum appeal and what to expect this weekend when the doors open.
Nice Kicks: NYC has long been the Mecca for sneaker culture and you’ve had a foot in it for decades. Why now for a sneaker store?
Fat Joe: I mean, why not? It’s a natural transition. I love sneakers and obviously we like to make money, but we’re actually giving the community a sense of pride. We’re letting these kids get their hands on sneakers — restock sneakers that they were never able to get — at box price.
We also have a sneaker museum in the store where kids will get to see my collection for two months, then the next two months will be Mayor’s collection, then the next two months will be Carmelo Anthony’s collection, the next two months will be Ray Allen’s collection, then Spike Lee’s collection and then Marcus Jordan’s collection. We’re just going to give these kids something that they were never able to see and be a part of it. That’s the story of my life — working to succeed but giving back at the same time.
This is our first store, we’re gonna learn how to tweak it up and get it right, and I believe it’s the beginning of 20, 30, 40 stores that’s gonna open. I’m Bugsy Siegel, I’m overly optimistic. I never count us out, trust me.
Nice Kicks: You’re opening UP NYC with business partner Scotty Spina. How did you and Scotty link up?
Fat Joe: Scotty’s a good friend. Of course I met him through sneakers, but I saw his ambition and I feel like he’s me — not so gangster or streetish — 20 years ago. I honestly believe this is just the beginning for Scotty and he’s going to go on to be one of the biggest businessmen in the future. I saw that in him and said let’s team up and let’s go. Sneakers are obviously my passion so the fact that I’m able to do what I love to do is a second plus.
Nice Kicks: A lot more artists are doing business ventures in retail, did you reach out to any for advice?
Fat Joe: Nah. I’m an entrepreneur, I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 14. I don’t need many pointers, [Laughs] I’ve been a boss. I salute what Jadakiss is doing with the juice bars and salute that Nas has a sneaker store and a restaurant. I’m just trying to diversify the portfolio. I feel like this is home base, this is ground zero and there’s many more to come after this.
Nice Kicks: The place is packed with PEs from your friends in sports. Which athlete was the easiest to get PEs from and who was the hardest?
Fat Joe: The easiest was Rasheed Wallace. He let me take the sneakers off his feet. We was on a Philly block back in the day and he had some patent leather Air Force 1s and I literally took them off his feet. I still haven’t gotten a pair from Melo and he’s one of my best friends. He’s the cheapest motherf*cker on earth. [Laughs]
Nice Kicks: What can fans expect from the grand opening event?
Fat Joe: [Whistles] To be continued, brother, to be continued. You come first day and bring your cameras. There’s sh*t up in here that’s going to blow your mind. It’s not fair. This is world famous breaking news. This is going to be the stuff sneakerheads dreamed of seeing but they’ll actually see it! Like, “What the f*ck! He’s got it here! This guy’s not lying, it’s not a myth! It exists!” For all you know I could be full of sh*t. All these years I’ve been talking sh*t about my sneakers and all I got. For all you know I could be full of sh*t, but when you come here opening day you’re gonna be like, “Holy sh*t, this motherf*cker’s serious!” And I’ve still got some missiles that I haven’t brought out and that’s just if somebody wants to test the rocket launcher in the future.
Nice Kicks: Any ideas on what kicks you’ll break out for the grand opening event?
Fat Joe: I’ll probably wear the “Trophy Room” Air Jordan 16s. They release the same day and Marcus Jordan’s place is beautiful. They’re phenomenal guys and I’m going to support them all the way.
Nice Kicks: Any words for fans attending the grand opening event?
Fat Joe: I want everybody early lined up on November 5th. You’re going to see your favorite athletes, your favorite rappers, your favorite sneaker collectors. We can’t get Mayor out of here! He’s like, “Oh my God they’re going to lose their minds!” In my case I have a vault pair of sneakers and he’s like, “Yo, take one out and send it back to Miami. Somebody’s gonna break the window Joe!”
Head to UP NYC at 3806 Broadway, New York, NY on November 5th. Line up early and don’t break the window.
Lead image by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images via Zimbio