Every rapper wants to be a businessman. They might start out hustling mixtapes from the back of trucks, but like Master P, they eventually want to own companies, branch out into different areas, and become CEOs of their own enterprises.
Detroit’s own Ro Spit knows what it takes. “I didn’t want to work at a sneaker shop – I wanted to own one,” he tells us about becoming a co-owner of the D’s hottest shoe boutique, Burn Rubber. But he didn’t start out as a sneaker entrepreneur; in fact, he almost came upon the opportunity by accident.
If you’re an underground rap head, you might remember a group called Binary Star, made up of One Be Lo and Senim Silla. In 2000 they released the cult classic Masters Of The Universe, only to part ways for solo careers. One Be Lo would go on to make a splash with his 2005 LP S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M., but back in the days of Binary Star, the group needed a DJ, so One Be Lo called on his cousin Ro to man the wheels of steel.
But DJing wasn’t Ro’s passion at the time – it was rapping. “I started rapping when I was in college at Eastern Michigan University,” he says. “When I was DJing, I secretly always wanted to emcee. We used to get intoxicated and freestyle for hours on end. One day my cousin One Be Lo heard me freestyling & was like, ‘Yo you’re dope.’ That’s all I needed.”
With his connection to One Be Lo and Binary Star, Ro met Rick Williams. “Rick was in high school, but he was booking shows up at Oakland University,” Ro recalls about meeting his future business partner. “We chopped it up that one time & pretty much been cool ever since.”
At some point, the two were in a band together – Ro commanding the microphone while Rick danced on-stage. Rick eventually became an intern under the previous owners of Burn Rubber, and when he was asked to take over the business, he called on his boy Ro to help head the shop. The rest is history.
Ro manages to balance running Burn Rubber with a rap career, but both paths cross often. His raps can hook new customers to the shop, and Burn Rubber helps put sneaker heads on to his music. “[Burn Rubber] is an outlet to create on different platforms,” he says.
Now Rick and Ro are in the best positions of their lives to keep Burn Rubber as well-respected as it is. “I feel if we create & represent positivity while continuously raising our standards, we’ll always be relevant,” he says about maintaining Burn Rubber’s popularity. “We know people are looking at us. That’s why we move how we move.”