New York City native Bobbito Garcia’s impact on popular culture worldwide is immeasurable. He is one of the most influential figures in the history of hip hop, first emerging in the 1980s as a member of the break dancing/rap outfit Rock Steady Crew, then as a popular DJ, career-launching radio host and podcaster. Equally, the Wesleyan University alum is a playground basketball historian and documentarian who has traveled the globe hooping in urban parks. Moreover, the scholar is a pioneer of the global sneakerhead phenomenon.
Garcia continues to be a trailblazer with his latest venture, a collaboration with critically acclaimed designer/director Omar Acosta. The duo has created 3D virtual sneakers as NFTs. Four editions feature digital art, photos and designs by Garcia and Acosta, and a special fifth edition includes art from the “La Borinqueña” comic book by Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, with a portion of the profits provided to Afro-Boriqua grassroots initiatives based in Puerto Rico via the non-profit La Borinqueña grants programs.
“Omar and I created two documentary films together, ‘Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changes Lives’ and ‘Rock Rubber 45s,’” said Garcia. “We know how to balance our talents in rhythm, and we’re both Puerto Rican, so we used our shared heritage, passion for kicks, and knowledge of 3D animation and design to create the debut Bobbito x Omar Acosta ARO1 virtual sneaker as an NFT available on Opensa.
“We also aligned the release with the December 22nd 126th anniversary of the Puerto Rican flag,” he elaborated, “so that we may celebrate all its beauty…Edgardo and I collaborated in 2020 to produce a remake of the anthem, ‘Que Bonita Bandera.’ He’s a brilliant activist for our people.”
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, despite being a vastly burgeoning and lucrative industry, are still ambiguous and abstract to the masses. They are, in essence, digital products ranging from paintings to music to baseball cards. Contextualizing their depth, this past June, an NFT artwork from the “Cryptopunk” series by artists Matt Hall and John Watkinson dubbed “Covid Alien” sold at Sotheby’s auction house for $11.8 million. It’s likely the digital sneaker exchange will propagate with the expected growth of NFTs.
“The sneaker game is already humongous!” asserted Garcia. “I don’t anticipate anything being different in the virtual space. As far as being a significant part of the NFT market, it’s too early to determine how any niche or specified interest groups will play out, which makes this all very exciting. Omar and I are chartering new territories for our artistic expressions.”
Acosta expanded on Garcia’s outlook.
“It may actually become a larger force in the global market,” he considered. “With physical products, you’re limited to what can be created practically—the technology, materials, etc. With NFT, and by extension, the upcoming Web3 Metaverse, it’s only limited to the imagination of the designer and the individualism of the user.” https://opensea.io/collection/kbloa-1-boriken-sneakers