Last week we were invited by Adidas Brazil to sit down with Doncesão, the guy who knows his history on Kanye and the whole Yeezy line. He talked a little bit about what’s like being a rapper, producer, fashion enthusiast, and father!
Surprisingly, Doncesão didn’t talk about his pairs specifically, he chose to talk about his son’s Yeezys, and what they meant to him. He also shared with us a bit of his perception of sneaker and himself, and how that all changed and matured, especially since Don was born.
You have this song that goes like: “I’m Doncesão and you’re not”. So we want to know, who is Doncesão?
DoncesãoI think today I have a better understanding of what my image is, how much I worked to conquer, and what I want, and what I’m seeking then when I said that back then, it was really about the ego of an MC. Like I’m Doncesão and I do all this stuff that other people don’t. Back then that’s what I thought was important, but today I look at things differently. I’m 33 years old, I have a sun, a company, a society with people who are my idols like Djonga, Rodrigo TX, within the street culture which is what I really love, Hip Hop, skateboarding, black culture in general. Today I made it to the same level as these people that are idols of my generation.
Like “I’m Doncesão but you’re not” because we are also able to connect with other worlds that some people are not able to get through, that’s what I want to do more and more. “I’m Doncesão and nobody else is” in the sense of being a fundamental piece, not being at the center of the stage like before, but more like being part of the mechanism, making everything happen but not necessarily being the one with the mic at the moment. Especially because I’m a believer in the culture, in the construction, we having our turn to speak is very recent in comparison to Hip Hop, like the 80s, 90s, 2000s. So today, when we talk about construction of culture, we have to know whose voices have to be speaking. And I think that as an MC or someone who loves and studies Hip Hop, today in the year 2019, it shouldn’t be me who should be speaking – a white rapper who has already achieved so much, who’s had a bunch of privileges because of a bunch of matters in society and in life. I have to stay in the space that I own and try to provide this for the people who I believe should be telling the story now, or that are out there, building this in a way that everyone will believe it and say “damn, this makes sense”.
So in many things, do you see an evolution from back then to today?
DoncesãoEvery day we have to try to evolve. We have to be thankful for the opportunity and always try to do better. Messed up? You have to be humble. Only those who are humble learn, because if you think you know it all, you don’t have the humility to learn. Sometimes in a conversation you with someone you might learn something you never read about, that in 30 years of life, you never learned. That’s one of the reasons I like to surround myself with younger people as well, always learning with them and you have to have the humility to know that you’re not the guy that has the final word, no one has the final word.
“And it’s like, I really wear my sneakers. I don’t even care. When I like them I want to wear them in the moment and not just have them put away somewhere, I’ve lost a lot of sneakers because of hydrolysis, or because they yellowed out, or the soles dried up. I don’t want to have them locked up so I can have that feeling like ” it’s mine, my precious” (laughs), so when you actually want to wear them you can’t.”
You have a huge sneaker collection and we saw that you are really into it. What do you think has changed from when you started your collection to now? How’s your relationship with sneakers today?
DoncesãoI have great admiration for sneaker culture because it tells stories. When someone learns the story of a sneaker, which might be a sneaker that has a story with the person, he or she identifies with the sneaker because they’ve been through something. So I think my relationship with sneakers is emotional. For example I like Yeezys cuz they have a connection to Kanye West which is someone I really admire, he has that whole thing with the study of design, there is DONDA which is a collective of art and media. So it’s like this, this guy’s story makes me want to buy his products.
When I was a kid I wanted to have what I thought was dope or saw a friend wearing something that I liked. A lot of my motivation to buy sneakers back then was because of skateboarding. Like, I wanted to have skate shoes, that’s where my connection to sneakers comes from. When a skater got his Pro Model it was the ultimate prestige – so buying that Pro Model instead of a regular inline model, was a way of honoring the guy’s hard work. To me that’s what it is.
Back then I wanted to buy stuff because I liked it, but I didn’t have access to it- it was that whole thing where you really want something. Today my relationship is a bit more select, I go after products I like the story of, and not so much what’s hot at the moment you know? I think the only ones that make me like sneakers that are hot at the moment, are like Yeezys because of Kanye West, and it’s not every model that I like, and Pharrell‘s sneakers because it’s Pharrell. Those that have a creator behind them are the ones I like, get it? I like the piece, the work of art. It’s like having a piece of this guy’s vision inside an object that you can own.
And it’s like, I really wear my sneakers. I don’t even care. When I like them I want to wear them in the moment and not just have them put away somewhere, I’ve lost a lot of sneakers because of hydrolysis, or because they yellowed out, or the soles dried up. I don’t want to have them locked up so I can have that feeling like ” it’s mine, my precious” (laughs), so when you actually want to wear them you can’t. If there’s one thing I’ve learned is that sneakers are a consumer good, we have to consume them. It’s not meant to be a wish piece, it’s supposed to be a consumer good and that you are wearing the design that was thought of by someone and has some kind of story behind it.
But is there a pair that you can’t wear anymore and you got it stashed away?
DoncesãoI do stash some, there are some sneakers that I do keep like the Adidas POD, Nite Jogger, NMD, and stuff. At least the OG’s, the first ones that come out I keep as archive, I like to keep them because they’re from the moment right now, especially with my relationship with Adidas and stuff. Because it’s the moment we’re living right now, doing stuff together.
And what I really like is the whole design thing. Pharrell and Kanye are like artists to me. What we see happening in art today is that one-person show, the new Da Vinci! The guy that does it all. The guy draws helicopters, draws human anatomy, it’s a complete vision. So for you to be able to have something made by one of these guys it’s like owning part of his vision. So that’s it to me, before I liked what was hot at the moment, I needed to have it, I really wanted it. But today I’m not about that anymore.
I think your figure and Kanye’s figure have some interconnections. Kanye is a music producer, rapper and he has his presence in fashion. And similarly you have it too. How do you see yourself parallel to him?
DoncesãoJust like many other figures in Rap, some of those people were essential to shape the vision that I have today. And Kanye certainly was one of them – and not just in the musical sense but in his connection to fashion as well. Because what has always attracted me about Hip Hop was the whole of it, with that whole thing of you wanting to be part of a culture and the way you express yourself and being cool, it was about you creating your style. Like, it’s really cool making your own style you know? I think he really brought all that with him, and so did Pharrell.
Ever since he showed up with the pink Ralph Lauren polo shirt, he hasn’t stopped putting out his vision, and by putting out his vision you can see that there’s a lot of research that goes into it. There’s a lot of people feeding off what his vision has brought. Today a lot of people that we hang with and that we like, feed on his vision from way back there, and from a lot of other guys. So if I have to mention someone, I think Kanye is the dude that is still making it happen. And he took that to an extreme, with creation, with the design of his pieces, with architecture design.
And when you stop to think about it, music is a product as well, and that’s the hard part. When you get that, pull yourself out of this product game. If you get caught up in this business of selling music, you are bound to put yourself in the middle of a bunch of people that might not have the same artistic vision that you do. That’s why you should do other things as well. And I think that when you expand your creativity, you spread your vision. What I want to build is something bigger than just leaving a discography behind, I want to impact. And I think that little by little we’re getting there. Before Ceia was just a dream, it was the end of this whole “I’m Doncesão but you’re not”. That was the transition right there. So that’s where Ceia came from, with Febem‘s new stuff, Clara Lima came in, Djonga came in, a bunch of others came in. It’s a bunch of “I’m Doncesão but you’re not”, each one in their own way.
What’s your every day like at Ceia? What’s your role there nowadays?
DoncesãoNicole and I created the label. The artistic direction is mine and Febem’s since the begging, we created the logo, the name, the visual. But the management part, which is the mechanism of the business, is all done by Nicole. I take care of the core, creative side, and she’s on the financial side of projects. There’s a whole group of people that works with us at the office; we also have a society with Marina Oliveira, who’s also Seu Jorge’s manager. But dude, I’m always saying that I don’t want to be a manager, because if I were I wouldn’t be building what I want. I partner with the guys, I want to be close, there’s no boss, we need to be making it together… otherwise we’ll just be replicating a behavior of society that we criticize. I want for Djonga to conquer his independence, for Clara to conquer her independence, for Febem, for Tasha & Tracie, all of them. I want everyone to have their own Ceia, inside of Ceia.
“Today the relationship I have with sneakers has changed because of two reasons: my son’s birth, that changes your perspective on everything, even your vanity, everything changes so much, you don’t think of things for you anymore. And the other reason is that thanks to my work and years creating a strong relationship with Adidas, most of the news releases I want I don’t need to buy. Thank God (laughs).”
You talk a lot about a new phase in your life and you chose to bring your son Don’s sneakers to this shooting – which is something new here in Kickstory. And we want to understand why, from all your sneakers, you chose Don’s Yeezy Boost 350 V2 for the interview.
DoncesãoToday the relationship I have with sneakers has changed because of two reasons: my son’s birth, that changes your perspective on everything, even your vanity, everything changes so much, you don’t think of things for you anymore. And the other reason is that thanks to my work and years creating a strong relationship with Adidas, most of the news releases I want I don’t need to buy. Thank God (laughs). So it’s not the same relationship as before, that need like “wow I have to have these, I need those sneakers”. Today, the ones that I really want, I wait for a while to see how it goes, to see if I can get it when they drop and stuff.
So it’s like this, I’ve already been contemplated with the opportunity of working with Adidas, a brand that I truly love, like I’m always getting lost in their archives. There’s a guy called Garry Aspden who’s responsible for Adidas Spezial, like shit dude, I’m there looking at everything he does, I like that, I like stories and I like to tell stories. So to be part of this brand that has such a great story, also changed me.
So for me, sneakers are all about the story, the design, why it became that, why Adidas became this giant of a brand. I like that, get it? I want to go to the archives to see everything, see how everything is stored. People say when you get there, put gloves on and get the sneakers from the stock. Shit, I want to do that, you know?
Like, it was always something I had an emotional connection with. So when this closeness with Adidas developed, I was like “shit dude, this is fucking amazing”. So I think that my relationship with consuming changed because of those two things. This work relation that I also have today. And because of my son, because now everything I want to get is for him. I think it is way cooler for him to have a little Yeezy than for me, you know?
“But first of all the people who are close to me, we need humbleness to learn and the radar must be turned on. I think inspiration always comes from the everyday life of the people surrounding you – my family inspires me, my wife, the people who work with me at Ceia.”
What are your two big inspirations both in music and in art?
DoncesãoI always forget (laughs). But first of all the people who are close to me, we need humbleness to learn and the radar must be turned on. I think inspiration always comes from the everyday life of the people surrounding you – my family inspires me, my wife, the people who work with me at Ceia. But when it comes to art, I’d say the people whose names have gone down in history, even sometimes those that have controversial personalities, you know? Just the fact that an artist has something that you have to figure out if you like it or not, even though you do, that on its own has so much power, that we can’t even explain. Sometimes you don’t like someone and you can’t put your finger why, like there’s a power in that. I like people who were able to do that, way back then. I like ruptures. For example, Pablo Picasso was an amazing guy, he broke the status quo in the history of art with his crew, by founding Cubism; Also Salvador Dali with Surrealism. I like art history.
Now, talking about the sneaker culture, especially when adding these two figures that I’ve mentioned, Kanye and Pharrell. It’s like this, music today is a very real register of what we live, it’s also art history, this is the new way of making art history, it’s our way. So we’re talking about Kanye West down to what he wears. I really like Gianni Versace, not the clothes, you know? But I like the attitude, the boldness, the transforming element. Michael Gondry, who’s a film director, too. My mind really changed after seeing his movies. I thinks, that this is it. Movies, art in general.
My friends who graffiti inspire me, graffiti writers who leave their names throughout the city, who are respected in their niche, so for you to be like that, you need to be real, you need to be local as shit, to go out and become international, and for me the people who managed to do that are inspirations to me.
Speaking of someone who’s definitely been a transformational agent: What’s your favorite Adidas Yeezy and favorite Kanye album?
DoncesãoKanye’s, to me, was Graduation… actually College Dropout was also, I don’t know. I can’t decide between the two. But visually it’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It’s really amazing visually speaking, really beautiful. I think it was one of the first covers by Virgil, if I’m not mistaken. Kanye brought in this guy which you can’t talk fashion with today, without talking about Virgil, and back then he was hanging at Kanye’s, creating together. In just one CD you have registers of two geniuses. It’s too hard to choose just one of his albums.
And shit, now Yeezy I really don’t know dude. For me, this model here, the Yeezy WaveRunner, is one that I really dig. I think this was one of the first ones that when he posted him wearing them leaving the office and shit, I was like “wow, I want those sneakers”. And it was the last one that I got. But then, all the other ones that came out, even V2, the Geode, the Inertia, I really like these “fatter” models like daddy shoes, I dig it. So if I had to choose it’d be the Yeezy Wave Runner and Kanye’s full discography (laughs).
“Rap is an artistic expression that moves many people. When we go out to perform, it’s a huge crowd, and today we can see how young people identify with it down to the way they dress. So I think that Adidas saw a legit identification with the crowd and thought “the kids like them for a reason”. And they always saw us wearing Adidas, you know? They saw us.”
You spoke a little about having a good relationship with Adidas. But at the beginning you were just a bet and you managed to build this relationship with them. What do you think made Adidas’ trust in your growth?
DoncesãoI think that first it was my true identification with sneakers and second this identification with urban culture of trying to change, of bringing and fomenting. I’d say they were looking for people to somehow foment urban culture. Rap is an artistic expression that moves many people. When we go out to perform, it’s a huge crowd, and today we can see how young people identify with it down to the way they dress. So I think that Adidas saw a legit identification with the crowd and thought “the kids like them for a reason”. And they always saw us wearing Adidas, you know? They saw us.
Of course, in the beginning you feel overwhelmed, you think: “wow, that’s dope, this brand that I’ve always admired, that we wear, that I wear just as much as the “Piramide” kids do in Rio, is with us”. The people from Adidas used to see us in line to buy sneakers. When the first Yeezys were launched, they saw us there, they saw that we like it for real. I think the relationship grew because it’s based on truth, I think that when it’s a relation that afterwards becomes commercial, it needs to be based on truth, otherwise it will always shift to another direction, and both sides will probably end up unhappy. They say “wow, these guys really like Adidas, the connection they have with the kids and with the streets is real”. And it’s something that we truly like, so for me, to be able to be part of, to work with, is amazing because I’ve always been a fan.
If not Yeezy, what other sneakers from your Adidas collection would you choose?
DoncesãoStan Smith. My dream is to make a Stan Smith. If someday they say they’re making one with someone in Brazil, and they get to choose who, and they don’t pick me… I’m throwing a tantrum (laughs). I love this sneaker. Especially the one with Velcro. I think I really like the model because of the whole picture in the tongue thing, it’s really dope. He said once “there’s a lot of people that actually think I’m a sneaker”. Stan Smith is a tennis player – the masterpiece, his sneakers, has surpassed him, you know? So I think it’s cool because of that. So I’m always dreaming of having my picture on a pair. It can be just one pair, just so I could get home and put it safe inside a little jar (laughs).
We can’t tell yet, but do you think you will influence Don more through music or through fashion culture in general?
DoncesãoI don’t know. I’d love for him to be a fashion designer, you know? I’d be thrilled, it would be awesome. All samples, a life of samples. But he’s already very musical. It’s something that neither Nicole, nor I want for him, but my father-in-law is a samba composer, one of the greatest samba composers in São Paulo actually, he’s written over 40 sambas that were paraded at the sambodromo. When he’s with Don, he plays his cavaquinho and Don goes crazy and wants to sit in his lap and watch. So I think he already has a connection with music. But I’ll do everything I can for him not to follow that path, he has to be happy. The most important thing is to be happy, don’t go make music (laughs).