A Conversation With Kaecee

After making his mark on sneaker culture, Kaecee has been blazing his own path through the music world. We recently caught up for a conversation where he shares his insight on the sneaker game, his music career, and future plans.

1. Last we spoke, you were flipping sneakers and really getting involved in the industry pretty heavy, what have you been up to since?

So basically, I rode out the sneaker kid vibe for a bit, moved to Chicago and that place is nuts. Just the sneaker culture there is crazy and I  was there in the prime time. I moved to Chicago, and literally that week, I’m at Saks Fifth Avenue where I met Virgil Abloh. That next week, he dropped the Nike campaign with Off-White, The Ten. Chicago had every exclusive shoe. Literally on one street, you have RSVP Gallery, St. Alfred’s, and some other stores and we were going from one place to another, and got a ton of pairs. And then, on top of that, we had FootAction on State Street, and Nike Chicago. It was the easiest cop. I remember people were flipping pairs of the AJ1 for like $800 on the street. Smaller pairs and such were going for around $1000. Just crazy.

2. And you were right there in the middle of it.

I was in the middle of it. Then I opened up a store, next to RSVP Gallery! We were hitting sneaker passes every single time because we were in the zone, and we were getting all those drops.  We were doing a lot of that back then, and nobody knew about it because the SNKRS App was dead back then. 

3. I remember some time after our interview you went and opened up the store. Talk about that process of opening up a brick and mortar.

So, the real thing was that I was doing really well reselling. And I know a lot of people still doing good where they’re going to conventions, getting x amount of pairs, selling them to the homies, and getting a quick $2500 here and there. And it was getting to the point where I was trying to represent myself as an entrepreneur, but what was special about me was that I was young and doing this. But then it went from nobody doing this, to now every kid going to conventions trying to sell their Yeezy, and it became more of a stereotype, and I didn’t like that image. Plus, it was getting boring, people started seeing it more for the money than the shoes, and the whole reason why I got into it was because I wanted to be able to buy shoes for myself, because I’m actually really interested. I love the backstory of shoes, all that stuff.

It was also at a time where people were selling hella fakes at these conventions. Yeezy Busta and Supreme Patty would come and make content about this all the time. That was killing people’s reputations on Instagram, which was my main market at the time. So it seemed like, if you were scrolling through instagram and you see someone selling some Yeezys on your feed, you’re probably thinking, “what are the chances that these are fake? There is probably an 80 percent chance these are fake.” The only way to prove myself, and prove myself as a brand, was to open a store and have everyone come in to look at my shoes and see. Mine are legit. I think I collected like 150 pairs before I opened.

So I open the store for a six month lease with an extension of six months, but I hadn’t decided if I was going to do this fully. The original plan was to open a pop-up for a month, and then that changed to, “I might do it for 6 months, and depending on how that goes, I might do it longer.” But then I was thinking, “what if I just do it for like 6 months, stop for a year, open up another one, and probably in Dubai“, just because I’m always traveling. So I do Sneakerbox for 4 months, but due to complications, I had to move back to Dubai and close Sneakerbox. Nothing would have happened without me there. Yes, I had an employee, but he was more so sales. He knew about shoes, but the numbers wouldn’t have been the same unless I was there. So I had to close it, and I end up selling the rest of the shoes, which was like 300 pairs. And these were all hype sneakers; I didn’t have anything less than $300 for sale. I had real exclusive stuff.

4. And you’ve had some notable figures in your shop before.

Let me start with A$AP Bari, that was the first day we opened up. So, I don’t remember the exact date, but basically, the Vlone Chicago Pop-Up was a 2-day thing that happened on the weekend, and the second day was the same day my store opened up. We didn’t know this at the time, but Bari and his crew were staying at an AirBnB a few doors down. I was there the whole night before because I was doing steals and I had campers outside. So I hang with them outside for a little bit, order them pizza and what not, and at 11:30 or something like that, Bari shows up and hangs with us for a bit. He asked me if it was my store, and I told him yes and he was like “let me go in”, but I told him no. He was like “Come on, you know who I am”, but I was like, “No, bro, we’re opening tomorrow. I know you’re gonna be here because your pop-up is tomorrow.” So he was like “Alright bet, we’ll pull up tomorrow.”

So the next day is the opening, people are coming in, buying their stuff, it’s dope. I have my uncle there, who’s a cop, and he’s there the whole time until like 7. So the pop-up is about closing, and Bari and his team come back. He comes in the store, he’s checking it out, looking, and he sees the Vlone Air Force 1 High. So he’s like “How do you have these?” I’m like “Don’t worry about it!” So he was trying to cop, and I was taxing him heavy. I was saying like 2 bands, and I think I tagged them at $1700. He wasn’t with it. So he’s looking at other shoes, and all of a sudden, he turns around, grabs my employee’s keys, runs out the door to his car, but couldn’t get it to start. We run out the door, and by time we’re out there, we are right next to him. He gets out of the car and sprints to his thing, and gets through the gate, and we were just confused. His team just walks out the store. They all had Vlone on the back of their shirts, like a squad. If you really wanted camera footage, I could probably find it.

5. And this is opening day.

Opening day, on 2121 West Division Street.

6. So you’re selling some exclusive grails at Sneakerbox, but what else did you have for sale there?

I was selling Supreme, Vlone, a bunch of random stuff to be honest, but mainly just sneakers.

7. Take me into the rap. Shortly after the store opened up, I saw you were putting up some music.

So how it really started was that I was always listening to rap music, and being in Chicago, I was listening to a lot of underground stuff that was coming up. I was always on that, and  I wanted to make music. But growing up, I always cared about what other people thought, and I guess I didn’t have the guts to release music, but I always made music. I got to a point where I really wanted to pursue it, and I felt this was the right path for me. And around the same time, my homie started making beats. He produced Black Beemer and Money In The Bag, so he’s the homie. Another guy I’m cool with was friends with all the guys before they got big, like The Migos, A$AP Yams, all those people. You can go on his Instagram and look at it. He’s a videographer that also does music, and he introduced me to a whole group of people. Like the engineer that trained my current engineer helped work on YBN Cordae’s album. He’s part of the Classic Studios crew and that just put me on to a whole other part of the scene in Chicago at that time.

When I recorded Black Beemer, Juice WRLD was in the studio recording, in like studio 7, and I was in like studio 2, which was wild. I was really in the right area with everyone. I was there before a lot of people got big. Z Money, Prince Habib (sp?), a lot of guys at time time weren’t that big, and me being there at the same time just motivates me to think that I am doing something right.

8. When you were making music before you decided to do it for real, were you just writing music, or were you making beats, too? What was that process like?

So musically, I grew up playing piano, and I did saxophone for like 4 years. I was writing rhymes and stuff like that, but always on the low. I mostly leaned towards the melodic vibe, not like singing, but just more melodic vibes. But just from doing piano for a while, I learned how to make beats and it helped me to write melodies and write music down, which has been really helpful. And the piano is helpful now because I didn’t really produce beats back then, but now if I do want to create beats or help out on the beats on FL and stuff like that, it helps me understand that music more. Even when I was starting to engineer, it helped me because I have an ear for it now.

9. Can we expect something new coming soon? What do you have coming up?

We have a lot of stuff in the vault to be honest! But the next song dropping is Med Med, dropping January 2nd, and the music video is dropping January 10th. The music video is going to be recorded in Dubai, on the 19th of December, stay tuned.

10. Speaking of Dubai, you mentioned you closed down the shop and moved back. Are you still flipping sneakers, or what’s the move over there?

So I’ve partaken in the past couple releases. I hit the Satins, the Obsidians, Shattered Backboards, the Travis VIs, but I’m just flipping on the low, because I’m mainly all in on the music. Big plans for shoes would be a possible pop-up, Sneakerbox Chicago, for 3 days, and also a possible tour where Sneakerbox will be a possible tour spot.

11. So what sneakers have you been feeling recently?

Honestly, I’ve been more on the simple vibe lately. The 350s are just so comfortable, I have to give it up to Kanye, just all Boost are fire, just because of how comfortable they are. I’ve been rocking the Breds, the Not For Resales, just a lot of 1’s because I’ve been rocking jeans, and they are a good combo. I also really like Lows, they’re just a move, just so simple and low-key, and also a slip-on vibe.

Be sure to look out for Med Med coming January 2nd, and you can check out Kaecee’s music here. Thanks Kaecee!

Written by J-Play

Founder and Creator of the Sneaker Literacy Program. I am a software developer with a deep love for sneakers and tech. Clean Your Shoes is my mark in both cultures. Connect with me on Instagram at @the.jplay.

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