Although it may be hard to fathom a time when social media didn’t dominate all of our waking hours, the era prior to the introduction of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram saw our fascination with celebrity satiated by MTV who used the start of the new millennium to give fans a literal look inside the homes of actors and musicians alike.
MTV Cribs first debuted in October of 2000 and featured a pilot episode with walkthroughs of the homes of Ozzy Osbourne, Master P and AJ McLean of the Backstreet Boys. Not only did the first episode provide context for who the network deemed relevant at the time, but it also served as a proof of concept for what would become one of the network’s other biggest breakout hits, The Osbournes.
If there is perhaps one singular moment that registers from MTV Cribs’ decades-long run, it would be Fat Joe’s appearance on the program. The segment was both a precursor to the sneaker shopping series we commonly see with celebrities today, and a look inside the rabid sartorial habit of sneaker collecting that may have been unknown to the general public at the time.
In 2004, Fat Joe was riding high in the hip-hop world thanks to his Scott Storch-laced hit, “Lean Back,” which topped the Billboard Hot 100 list for over three weeks and was eventually nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group later that year. Eventually, MTV Cribs came knocking, and the rotund rapper not only opened up his house, but he also gave the world a move which would simply become known as “the lick” in the sneaker community.
Fat Joe’s Paramus, New Jersey home boasted three bedrooms and three bathrooms – with notable amenities like a swimming pool and gym. After showing off most of his humble abode, he took viewers into his sneaker room where he certified a pair of original Air Jordan VII “Olympics” as completely deadstock by licking the bottoms and stating that they retailed for $5,000 USD on “the eBay.”
In a 2012 interview with Sneakerwatch.com, Fat Joe recalled the iconic/infamous moment. “The most clasic sneaker moment in history,” he said. “I don’t care if you’re Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, African. When you feel like you “that ni**a, you lick the bottom of that sneaker. That is the moment for sneakers. There’s only one that’s iller, and that’s Run-D.M.C. putting their sneaker up at the Garden and the whole Madison Square Garden pulling off their adidas. That’s iller. But the new school of it? Joe Crack’s got that.”
As for the reasoning behind licking the bottoms of the shoes, Fat Joe pointed to a time as a youth when he would rob people on the train in New York City to satiate a sneaker habit that saw him buying 48 pairs of white-on-white shoes at a time – and tossing them out after a single instance of wear.
“It proves you never wore them,” he said.
In April of this year, Fat Joe took a trip down memory lane on Instagram with the hashtag #cribs which showed a half-dozen young men licking the bottom of their shoes.