DJ Clark Kent and hip-hop go hand in hand, so it only made sense for us to tap the Brooklyn native to talk about the moment that the 59FIFTY became a part of the rap uniform. Does a true Yankees fan only wear the navy colorway? Do you always have to match your cap with your kicks? Clark has all the answers you’re looking for and more.
Interview by Nick Grant (@NicholasGrant)
Tell us why you think the 59FIFTY grew to such prominence in the hip-hop community.
I think what happened with it is what happened in urban communities, period. Hip-hop and rap, the things that happen in it are the things that are based off what’s happening in our urban communities. In urban communities, it became part of the uniform, so you know, naturally it moved into the arts and entertainment world because people who are in arts and entertainment are from the urban communities and they’re the building blocks—so that’s why it came to the level it came to.
So, do you think one artist started that movement coming out of those communities?
I’m not gonna be able to say that only one artist did it because practically everyone wears a fitted cap and it’s been around forever. Now if you say which hat was the most important, I could answer that—the Yankees hat is the most important fitted cap. Period. To say which artist, I wouldn’t be able to say that.
The Yankees hat is the most important fitted cap. Period.
Was it a specific Yankees player, or just the entire Yankees collective?
It’s the franchise. It’s the mystique. It’s the allure of the Yankees. It’s the fact that damn near every super-duper star has played for the Yankees. Or at some point in their life, will play for the Yankees.
What’s your policy on rocking a 59FIFTY for a team you have no allegiance to?
That’s only for an outfit. I have and I will and I will again. It’s just for an outfit. If the colors on a different hat match differently or work differently with an outfit, I’ll wear it. But if you ask me who’s the team of all fitted hats, the team to me is always gonna be the New York Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, and the New York Knicks, of course. You know what I’m saying? So those four hats are always gonna be the most important to me.
Crazy colors of the Yankees 59FIFTY have been spotted since the mid-90s all over New York. Can any of them beat the classic, on-field Navy colorway?
No, it’s impossible. The icon that is the New York Yankees hat is an icon because it is a New York Yankees on-field hat because the Yankees played in it. ‘Cause of that storied franchise. ‘Cause of that 27, 28 pennants and all that, that mystique is that ‘NY’ on the front of a navy hat. Any other color is just something that is actually able to happen because of that first hat.
Before fitteds were readily available over the Internet, you had to search far and wide for the exclusive colorways. What did that type of hunt entail and what depths did you find yourself going to find that elusive 59FIFTY?
I traveled the world, so I always saw everything in other countries. So I was lucky in that I traveled city to city, state to state, so I would see things all over the place. Luckily I’ve been around the world many times. My hunt is different than the other guys’ hunt because the other guys don’t know what they’re hunting for. I’ve seen it. I know that a college might have a hat. I know that a minor league team will have a hat. I know that Canadian teams will have hats. I know that even Japanese teams will have hats. You know what I’m saying? So once you’ve traveled the world and you’ve seen different things, you know that there will be other things that are available. You know that licensing in Asia is different than licensing in United States so they can do more with a hat than we can do here. You’ll find crazier things over there.
Everybody knows you’re a sneaker aficionado. What’s the significance of incorporating your sneakers and fitteds into your style?
It’s just part of being fresh. It’s the aesthetic that we grew up on. It’s not about having the best sneakers or the most sneakers, it’s about being fresh. For me, it’s about the outfit. It’s not about the exclusivity of the shoe or how many hats or anything. It’s about that hat with that shoe that makes you look right. That’s all it is. It’s part of the uniform.
My hunt is different than the other guys' hunt because the other guys don't know what they're hunting for.
And the cap has to go with the shoe, correct?
99 percent of the time, yeah. The cap has to work with the shoe, otherwise it can look a little crazy. You know? But I’m old school.
Last question: Can you remember the first time you matched your 59FIFTY to your kicks?
Easy. The first time I had a fitted. My first fitted hat was a Yankees hat and I had to wear shoes that matched. You have to understand, I grew up on that. And it was probably a pair of Nike Tailwinds, it was that long ago. This is what we grew up on. This is how we grew up. We grew up on dressing properly, or trying to dress properly because it was part of being cool. You had to be fresh to be part of being cool. So that was what we based things that we did off of.
On the next page, travel to Brooklyn and discover Clark's favorite haunts...