We spoke with Mannie Fresh in his hometown of New Orleans.
This past weekend in his hometown of New Orleans, DJ Mannie Fresh, along with Juvenile, helped launch the new Reebok Classic x Sneaker Politics x Humidity Workout Lo Clean, a collaboration between Reebok Classic, Sneaker Politics and local skate purveyor Humidity Skate Shop.
For those who don't know, the Reebok Workout sneaker has a special history in New Orleans which is something we got to talk with Mannie about.
Both he and Juvi were big fans of the style coming up, nicknaming it the “solja,” which inspired Reebok to drop off custom Workouts in 1999 for Juvenile’s music video for “I Got That Fire,” which was shot in the Magnolia Projects, and created a legion of fans in the Big Easy for this particular style.
The special edition sneakers pay homage to this history with a unique design, featuring a white crackled leather upper signifying the “age” of a Classic, with camo stripe piping, a camo liner and gold logos. The flame printed insoles also refer to this golden era of late 90s rap, inspired by fire imagery on album covers at that time.
Select sizes of the kicks are still available now in Kid's and Men’s sizes at the Sneaker Politics store (216 Chartres Street, New Orleans) as well as online for $140.
Check out our interview with Mannie Fresh about those iconic sneakers, the Hot Boyz, the Ruff Ryders Cash Money tour, his favorite Louisiana cuisine, Yeezys and more.
How quickly did the Reebok Workout Lo take-off in the Magnolia Projects after the Hot Boyz debuted them?
"It was always a popular shoe in New Orleans. You know we called 'em "Soljas" down here, but once we put it on the map and started making records about 'em or whatever then I think the world got hooked on 'em. Within maybe a couple of months time like everybody was on Reebok."
What did it mean to you to have this tribute shoe designed by Reebok years later?
"I mean it's cool for them to just acknowledge like, 'You know what? That is apart of hip-hop', it's a part of they're growth as well, they're brand, and just bringing it back, yeah that is a big accomplishment."
What was that feeling like when Reebok gave you those special edition camo shoes and you got to debut them during the "I Got That Fire" video?
"Well, that just relays to you that- you really made it. It lets you know that you're growin'. When somebody takes the time out of something great that they did to pass down to you, that let's you know that you are growing."
Do you still have those shoes?
"Yeah. I'm a sneakerhead, dude. Anything that's gotta do with jerseys, sneakers, or whatever I have. That's the one thing I am about. Kicks, jerseys, old school paraphernalia from Cash Money, I love that stuff."
It's known that whoever got to the studio first got first dibs on a beat. Looking back, are there any beats you wished someone else from the Hot Boyz would've got on?
"Nah, I think all the songs that we've done were always like a perfect fit and it was friendly competition and that's what made 'em good. That's what made everyone want to get to the studio first anyway. Even our mistakes kind of came out good. So I'm glad of the way a lot of those songs turned out."
Can you recall any time someone came to the studio in some shoes that were just awful?
"Yeah that always happens. Shit, last night for a matter of fact. Larry had on some New Balances , but they were the ugliest shoes in the world. Just like, God damn, dude. Out of everything in the world that's what you did?"
Wildest story from the Ruff Ryders Cash Money Tour?
"Wow. The wildest story, I would think like DMX. Just like watching DMX the whole time. That dude is so energetic, just his presence when he comes and when he leaves, like every night would be a different DMX. You're like, who we gonna get tonight? So that was like the highlight of the Rough Riders Cash Money Tour, just wondering like, 'what DMX gonna do tonight?'"
Do you have a favorite All-Star Game story?
"Not really because you know, I'm a DJ. I'm not even going to tell you I'm a sports head. My job is I work, you know what I'm sayin'? What All-Star means to me is work. So that's what I'm doin' whenever there's an event, Super Bowl, All-Star or whatever I'm DJing. I'm DJ Mannie Fresh."
Do you have a favorite Po' Boy sandwich?
"Nope. My mom cook around here. Everybody who live here, you're mom cook you don't even go to restaurants. It's like almost frowned upon for someone from New Orleans to go to a restaurant, you know what I'm saying? It's good for the tourists but everybody in my family cook."
So what's your favorite NOLA cuisine then?
Thoughts on the Yeezys?
"I like Yeezys. And on top of that, when you're on a 'get something for free program' you like everything (laughs)."
What about the new white/gum Yeezy runners?
"Oh, these are dope. But you know what I'm saying this is part of where I came from. He's making his legacy right there, but we wearing Re's and white tees. I wish him nothing but the best but for me, I gotta represent where I come from."
Best rapper to play ball?
"Damn. Ice Cube got a shot. I don't know if y'all ever seen the video with him just hittin' threes, and he just was fuckin' goin hard, so I would probably say Ice Cube, dude."
How about best basketball player rapping?
"Oh shit, that's deep. I only know Shaq. Shaq had a gold album, so shit, we gotta go with Shaq. You can't hate on the numbers."