I first met Houseshoes in 2012, at a party in London. He had just released Let It Go, a debut album and statement of intent for the rest of his life. Known as Detroit’s Ambassador to the world, and a close associate of the late Jay Dee, Shoes had remained boxed in by his past and the album was an attempt to break free from this and move forward as his own man. A few months later I visited him at his home in L.A. to interview him for the book and our paths have crossed a few times since, always leading to interesting stories.
In the three years since our first meeting, a lot changed for Shoes and the profile I ended up writing for FACT magazine reflects this. Instead of being yet another piece about Shoes and Jay, or Shoes and Detroit, this is about how the gruff, opinionated DJ and tastemaker has moved on with his life and continues to learn the lessons of letting go. Though of course, Detroit and Jay are still part of the story, somehow.
Rare are the careers in the music business that are defined by altruism. Shoes is one of those exceptions. Back in his living room two years ago I asked him why he chose to connect people instead of keeping things to himself, as many do. “A connection ain’t a connection if you ain’t connecting a motherfucker,” he replied deadpan. “Just put A and B together, who knows what the fuck C will equal to. It could be crazy.” Street Corner Music, the label, is a continuation of this ethos. Shoes may have decided to “let things go” three years ago but he can’t help himself. Today, he’s just wiser about how much to give of himself before pulling back.