So you want to get an audience with Clinton Sparks. Yeah? Well, get in line.
See, getting an audience with Clinton Sparks can take time, something the guy doesn’t have in abundance. To find him, you’ve got to thief moments when he’s not hosting radio. Or producing mixtapes. Or breaking down new music on TV. Or writing tunes for the likes of Ludacris and Beyonce. You know…find his downtime. But what you and I consider downtime really isn’t downtime in Clinton Spark’s world. He always has something on the go.
“I have so much passion for everything music related whether it’s the business or putting shows together, writing, producing, DJing parties, dancing, performing,” Sparks said in an interview. “I always have much bigger plans than it may appear and am strategically setting things up with other plans in mind. It’s very calculated.”
This goes a long way in explaining how the self-proclaimed “Martha Stewart of hip hop” went from Boston radio stunt guy to one of the hottest names in the industry. There’s his skill on the wheels – both Rolling Stone and USA Today named him one of the world’s top 10 DJs. Production credits include Billboard-charted tracks for The Game and Akon. His nationally syndicated show is one of the biggest stars on Sirius Radio. Oh, he’s gotten into television as well, hosting The Daily 10 as their resident music expert.
If Sparks was a decathlete, he’d be the guy pushing to do an 11th event. This never-stop mentality has skyrocketed Sparks into the mainstream – his ability to mesh a love of hip-hop with pop culture has won him favor with heads and celebs alike. Nowhere is that more evident than with Smashtime Radio.
With Smashtime, Sparks brings this I’m-gonna-do-everything-and-anything mentality to the airwaves, playing a plethora of music while rotating guests through his on-air party.
“Smashtime stemmed from the last hour of my show on Hot 97.7 in Boston where I would just go in heavy because it was the hour when everyone was leaving the club. Now, its syndicated in over 25 markets worldwide,” Sparks explains. “I have also turned Smashtime into the hottest party in Las Vegas. I play everything from Hip-Hop to Rock, Dance, pop, old school, 80’s. We also have surprise guests every week from Ne-Yo to Akon, Carmen Electra to the cast from the Hills.”
Off the airwaves, Sparks has been holding it down as one of the most sought-after producers in the game. Most recently, he produced the title track for Bun B’s “II Trill” that debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart. And while he’s already worked with some incredibly tight artists, Sparks wants to keep pushing the envelope into different genres.
“A lot of people will be very surprised with what I plan to do next year with music, but I will never abandon Hip Hop,” he explained when asked what artists he’d like to work with. “Jay-Z would be one. Weezer and Teddy Riley are some people too. But there are so many I’d like to work with in all different genres of music. But after I complete my Clinton Sparks [the artist] album, people will really get to know what I’m about.”
For the most part, Sparks is all about the hustle. While his forays into pop and rock music have expanded his audience globally, his desire to be the hardest working man in hip-hop maintains his cred with heads (check the rhyme!) Plus, he knows his roots. While Sparks realizes he’s quickly becoming the voice of hip hop radio for the 2K generation, he also knows none of it would’ve been possible without pioneers like Stretch & Bobbito, Lady B, Red Alert and Funkmaster Flex.
“I love that after all my work into creating and identifying Smashtime that people are recognizing it more and downloading and podcasting it,” Sparks said. “As far as the DJs mentioned, I view them as trendsetters and am very grateful for all of them for helping to open doors for the radio DJ.”
With these doors now kicked wide open, we gotta ask – what does the future of Clinton Sparks hold? The guy is seemingly capable of anything, so where could it lead? To gain some insight, I played corporate pitchman and tossed a few show ideas his way. Here’s what Sparks had to say:
Mike Halford: I might be biting here, but what about a VH1 show called “Be My sPArks?” It’s a 10-person competition to become the personal assistant to the busiest man in the industry.
Clinton Sparks: Well Diddy is already doing that and I strive to be original. So I’d say “Guys do you know that show already exists? Who’s in charge here?”
MH: A little more indie and for the web…how about the YouTube: Smashtime Mixtape Wars. You host webisodes, judging the best user-submitted music/video mashups from the wide world of sports.
CS: Well if it’s all videos people submit then will I be see on screen as the host or just narrate? That would be the first question. Then, how much would I get paid and how well will they promote it. All of that would play into my decision.
MH: How about a Food Network show called “In Tha Kitchen with Clinton?” You collaborate with your favorite artists to make your favorite dishes and lay down tracks.
CS: That’s a decent idea if the kitchen was a metaphor for studio and we actually cooked up beats live in front of the audience, then had an 800-number to auction off the beats that were just created live in front of your eyes…have like big producers from hip hop, country, rock, etc. As you can see, when someone puts in idea in front of me I have 10 more to add.
That last line basically sums up Sparks in a nutshell. Always thinking, always pushing the boundaries. So if (or when) the Martha Stewart of hip-hop and Martha Stewart end up collaborating on some mac n’ cheese, remember, the idea started here first. Big things that start from the littlest ideas – now there’s something to get familiar with.
This interview was done by guest writer Mike Halford. Mike Halford is the co-owner of the Orland Kurtenblog or as they sometimes call it “KB”, which is pretty fuckin’ confusing when Mike and I have a conversation because I sometimes refer to Killahbeez as the “KB” as well. The “Orland Kurtenblog, aka the KB, is a Vancouver Canucks blog written by Jason Brough and Mike Halford. It’s mostly about the NHL but includes other sports too. It can be found on the interweb.”
I know both these dudes and definitely can say the shit they write is hilarious and interesting. So check them out over at: www.kurtenblog.com.