Thanks to his partnership with Saucony Originals and his 2023 FN Achievement Award-winning Grid Azura 2000 collaboration, the spotlight on Jae Tips is brighter than ever. Because of this, the 33-year-old Bronx, N.Y., native has a multitude of new fans who are learning about what he’s done in the past and what he’s about to do next.
“I’ve been blessed enough that when people really begin to dive deep into who I am, they learn everything,” Jae Tips, whose real name is John Cotton, told FN. “They really get caught up to date. And that’s why I love doing pop-ups and stuff because people look you up, they Google you the day before and they become your biggest fan going forward.”
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With the 2023 FN Achievement Awards a week away, Jae Tips reveals five things that his fans, new and old, might not know about him.
He Is a Prolific Rapper
“I’m a musician, I have 13 albums. It’s not that I kind of just rolled out of bed and I’d do some freestyles. I’ve tried a great attempt at making music a career. The thing about music that people ask me the most about is, ‘Am I still doing it?’ The thing that is cool about these new opportunities is there seems to be a lot of interest from people around the industry when it comes to who I am as a musician, because if you think about it, unintentionally I may have the whole package now. I’m someone you can market, someone you can put as a face behind stuff. But while I’m full head of steam designing, those conversations are pretty mute. But I’ve been around a lot of people that are like, ‘Hey, do you want to stop by the office? Do you want to send us some stuff?’ I’m just like, ‘Wow, it’s pretty crazy how all of this stuff can get me in the rooms of music execs.'”
He Worked at Foot Locker and Was a Sneaker Reseller
“I worked at Foot Locker from 2009-2013, and in 2011 I had a commission of over $1 million. At the time, it was before hype shoes, before bulk resellers and stuff like that. I had a love for building a clientele and knowing how to really communicate with customers. But I also did realize that there was more money on the other side. I started to use selling sneakers to promote my music, I would try to get pretty popular clientele and show people, ‘I can get you these J’s if you can throw me on a blog, you can do this, you can do that.’ My big last time I was really collecting a lot of shoes and selling them was maybe like Chicago [NBA] All-Star [in 2020] and then we went into the pandemic and I sat down and said I want to get better at Photoshop and get better with my output.”
He Played Baseball Until High School
“I grew up playing baseball at really young age. I was playing baseball since I was 6 until I got to high school. I was varsity as a freshman and then I just kind of fell out of love with it. I just kind of was like I’d rather just hang out in the park or my neighborhood. I just kind of plateaued. I stopped going to tryouts, I just stopped doing it. I wish I had someone in my corner to just be like, ‘Hey kid, you got it. You need to stay focused.’ I was pretty good. I went to high school in the Bronx, I was the only person that played on the varsity team as a freshman. Everyone else was pretty much a senior. The Little League World Series, I played on a little league team called Pelham Parkway and we got to the qualifying round right before you go Williamsport [Pennsylvania]. But I don’t give myself any credit for that because I was still so young. You never want to tell someone you were amazing and 13 or 14.”
He Is Half Hispanic
“My dad is Puerto Rican, my mom is Black. Growing up in the Bronx, there are so many people who have so many different cultures and so many different ethnicities. In the Bronx, the more that you had to pull from, the more that you had a unique story. And if you were able to say, ‘This is what you did for Thanksgiving’ and ‘This is where we’re going on vacation’ and ‘This is where your family is from,’ that was a fun part about school and bragging about like going home and stuff like that.”
His Favorite Shoe Is the Air Jordan 17
“It was the first shoe I had when I was a men’s size. I went from a 7 to a 7.5. I just remember walking into school and everyone looking and telling me to be careful. Also man, I felt magical, I felt like I got something special on today. I’m waiting for them to retro but I still have the pairs that crumble if you take them out the box. I do have a retro, they came out with crocodile a few years ago. And I have two pair: ‘College Blue’ and I have the white and red.”
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