The Spitkickers are a collective unit most closely associated with artists such as Talib Kweli, Common, De La Soul, Dave Chappelle and Pharoahe Monch among others. In 2000, they launched a 32-city tour which set in motion the development of the spitkicker movement which has since grown into a multimedia organization touching on promotion, radio, online journalism, compilations, DVDs and other projects in and outside of music. We caught up with Rene John-Sandy, one of the founding members , to speak on the evolution of the group, its new direction and its growing brand recognition.
Halftimeonline: Tell me a bit about how spitkicker got started. Who was involved and how did it take off?
The idea developed in Los Angeles in Sept 1999 when De La, Common, and Biz were on a tour. I used to manage Pharoahe Monch and we were doing promo for his album in LA. Busta Rhymes, Talib, Xzibit, Black Eye Peas were also in town and we all came to the show and got on stage and performed. Myself, Pos, Dave, and Corey Smyth who manages Talib Kweli and managed De La at the time all looked at each other and said we need to put our own tour on the road and that’s what we did in June 0f 2000.
Halftime: On the site it says the same year spitkicker started you had a tour with De La, Common, and Biz so you must have had plenty of connects already. How were you able to bring all of those artists together and what did you guys learn from the first tour that you have incorporated into future tours and ventures?
We all had relationships with each other and the artists already had a bond amongst each other from either doing shows or songs together so it was not a hard sell at all. We definitely learned that if you ever have a vision for something see it through. We actually had a major sponsor for our tour that backed out due to the company folding. We were in a tough place. We sat down with everyone and explained the situation and everyone was committed in making this happen. We all used our resources and it went on the road for 32 dates and got reviews that were just as good or better than the ‘˜Up In Smoke Tour’ that was out at the same time.
Halftime: What was/is the ultimate goal of the company or organization and how has that changed since you’ve begun.
Our initial goal was to put out phenomenal tours in the like of Lola Palooza and do something on the vibe of a urban Warped tour. We also wanted to create a business element that the Native Tongues did not establish. After 9/11 occurred we reinvented ourselves to not be just a ‘tour’ company but to have a company that is a lifestyle company.
Halftime: Obviously many of the artists affiliated with spitkicker have their own things going on and own crews and companies. First, how close is this collective of artists and secondly what role ds spitkicker play in their careers?
All of the artists/celebrities have a great respect for one another. Obviously, some artists are closer to one another than others. All of the relationships are authentic and we feel that the way it should be. As far as playing a role in the artists careers, we can assist in promoting what the artist(s) are doing through all of the vehicles that we have.
Halftime: How involved are the artists in the collective in achieving the goals of Spitkickers?
Each artists helps in their own way. Some artists are more web savvy than others so they may do more stuff for us on the website while others may record music or go on the road and promote us. It all depends on the strengths of the artists. We try to maximize that. We also have elements of the company that don’t necessarily have to solely depend on the Sk artists like our on line magazine called SPIT and our radio show that comes on XM Satellite called Spitkicker Radio. It comes on every Saturday on Channel 65 The Rhyme hosted by Heather B and Mr. Walt and resident DJ’s The Knockout Kingz. We also do Newsletters and Mix CDs.
Halftime: How ds one become a spitkicker?
This is the most frequently asked questions. There is no set criteria, nor are we limited to just musicians. We have a Chef named Marcus Samuelsson and we have a hockey player named Anson Carter that is apart the Spitkicker Family as well. It’s just a vibe or relationship that develops with the people in SK. A majority of the people down with Spitkicker were already cool with one another. For example we already had a relationship with Dave Chappelle and Michael Rappaport because both of them did skits on Talib Kweli’s albums. They both help promote our movement and in kind we always help push any projects that they are working on.
Halftime: How difficult is it keeping the collective together and putting together tours and things of that nature when there are so many different schedules involved? Also how ds the money situation begin to factor in when people are at different levels of exposure? Those seem like the things that could easily destroy the unity built.
Tours have been difficult to put together due to timing of artists schedules and also sponsorship. There is no dissention internally in regard to money. Everyone respects and realizes each celebrities worth. The exposure of a bigger celebrity just makes it better for us.
Halftime: You guys have what seems like a zillion projects from radio, to the tours, to the online mag to mixtapes and merchandise and so many other projects planned. Where ds spitkicker go from here and how ds it grow seeing that you have connections with the largest artists in what is considered ‘conscious hip hop’? Also how do you keep from trying to do too much too soon?
We do have a lot of projects going on in which we plan to use to enhance the awareness of our brand. Our goal is to be able to be top notch in all of the multimedia outlets and be able to use our brand to create avenues for us even outside of music. Somewhat like Def Jam did but on a whole different level.
Halftime: When is the spitkicker label coming? That seems to make the most sense. Why hasn’t that been a primary priority.
SK: We are working on putting a Spitkicker compilation together now. From there we will look into a label venture. We are taking baby steps with it.
Halftime: What future projects are in motion now?
We have a Spitkicker DVD that we are finishing up now. We also are in the baby stages of a compilation. We have created our online magazine SPIT into a virtual magazine. We are also doing a redesign of our website that is going to bring new interactive elements that we are confident that everyone will enjoy. We are also focusing on taking our radio show to the next level. We have a lot in store for 2007. Watch out! Thanks for you time today! Happy Holidays to you all and keep supporting us. You can always find out what we are doing a www.spitkicker.com