Written by Terzel Ron
Posted on November 5, 2022 at 6:15 pm
Is0kenny is a man of many talents. As a musician, he has found huge success from hits like “Intelligence” and stands at over 1.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone. Recently, his track “Speak Up,” has gone viral and currently sits at No. 5 on TikTok’s top tracks in the United States. It’s hardly the New Jersey native’s first time going viral – with over 1.8 million followers on TikTok, 892k subscribers on Youtube and 614k followers on Instagram alone, the multi-hyphenate routinely experiences his going viral on numerous platforms. This is garnered primarily from his comedic skits, which ranges anywhere from impressions of rappers to different types of people in the studio.
Terzel Ron sat down with Is0kenny to speak about his start in music, comedic skits, college experience, and wisdom beyond his years.
You’re the most talented person I know. You can sing, rap, you do comedic skits, you do a lot of stuff. You’re a college grad. You have so many dimensions to you. So tell me about when did all this creativity begin?
Honestly, I feel like what was really the genesis that started all this was really back in 2018. Picture this – you’re a high school student, and you’ve got African parents, so you know that you have to complete school. That’s what you’re doing. So, like, you just graduated, and you tell yourself, ‘do I really want to go to college and really get a job and live to other people’s standards or whatever, and not really find my passion? Or, do I want to live the life actually doing the thing that is in the back of my mind? For me, that was being a content creator, making skits, and making music. So once I graduated college, I really just took that initiative to say, ‘I’m just going to make content. I’m going to post. I don’t care what anybody says about it.’ And it’s crazy enough later that year in 2018, around October, I’m just making funny skits or whatever, and then boom. When they say like, an overnight success, that’s literally what it was.
You went viral.
Yeah, I went viral. That was back when I started doing like, rap impersonations. And the ones that went crazy were the impressions of A Boogie and PNB Rock. That was really like the first stage of it. But now I feel like the Is0 verse, Is0Kenny has just dove into the unintended and took a different direction. Now I feel like my content is centered around me, just embodying different personalities. So that really was just the genesis of really just sparking that faith within myself to understand that, ‘yo, if I want to take it to the next level, I have to do it now.’ So, that’s really what it was.
So you just realized, ‘yo, I have this talent. I’m going to post it on social media.’ A lot of people get scared to get vulnerable and share their talents on social media, though. Did you ever have that kind of fear?
Definitely. I feel like that was probably what was holding me back. I probably could have been like, popping before because I’ve really been making content since 8th grade. But honestly, my pages were private because I was thinking, ‘if I make it public, what if it’s too cringe?’ You know, ‘what are people going to say?’ So I definitely have those fears. There’s always stages within yourself that you have to overcome. Definitely. 100%. And that’s so crazy because even to this day, you get content creators saying they were afraid because they want to put out the most perfect thing that they could put out.
But that’s the cycle of doubt, and sometimes they don’t end up putting it out. So how do you get past that?
I feel like the way I approach content is I start with an idea, and even before I make the video, I already know how I want it to look. So when I’m editing and all of that stuff, I have a vision. First, have fun and do it to your fullest ability. So I don’t have that point where I’m thinking, ‘oh, this could be better,’ unless it’s something that just pops up. But I really try to make all of my content the best that I can, so I don’t even have to question myself. So I just put it up.
I would imagine that some content creators may see other content creators and compare themselves. I feel that’s a big downside of social media.
There’s always that comparison trap for me. And when people think of feelings of envy and jealousy and all that, those are feelings that we never want to feel. And I’d be lying to you if I told you I never felt those feelings because I can see somebody who I know and I’m way more talented and creative than, you feel me. And it could easily just switch. Like, ‘damn, I should be that.’ But the thing is, whenever you feel those emotions, you just have to really understand that it’s a natural emotion. You literally have to make yourself embrace that success for yourself. And that’s what I do. If I ever feel that sense of envy, I tell myself, ‘yo, that’s not me right there. Let me switch that feeling to a positive and visualize it for myself.’ So if I see somebody, and they hit a crazy achievement, I just visualize myself hitting that crazy achievement too. That’s all it is. Those are feelings that just arise, but it’s really all about transforming it and just making it into emotions of appreciation and love. Because at the end of the day, you don’t know what anybody’s story is. You don’t know what they went through. But once you just put yourself in their shoes, that’s when you’re able to really retrieve that gratitude for yourself.
Oftentimes, when something works for one platform, it doesn’t necessarily work on another platform. But you have dominated every platform. It’s Instagram. It’s YouTube. Tell me about making the transition from one platform to another.
Yeah, so definitely. It was really me just going through so many cycles. There were periods of times, you know, where, you know, I stopped posting on the gram for so long. It’s crazy. When you blow up on social media, it affects your mind in a way. Like, there were times when it wasn’t going well on Instagram, it wasn’t going well on YouTube. But honestly, it was me studying the game, studying these different algorithms. I really wanted to make my mark on each of those things. So that’s really just what it took was really just me looking into each algorithm, each platform, and seeing how I could translate my content. And I’ve always worked smarter, not harder. Meaning that the same videos I post on TikTok are the same videos I post on YouTube shorts, which are the same videos I post on Instagram reels. So it all works and comes together as one.
How amazing did it feel to finally have all that hard work pay off and get a YouTube plaque?
That honesty was amazing because it really came at a time when it was least expected. Because 2020 was really a tough year for me. Of course, you know, you had the pandemic and everything going on, but that was really the year where I bounced back and said, you know what? I’m going to jump back on the comedy and bring it back. So it was really slow.
For like half of that year, I was stuck at like 50K subscribers. And then I didn’t know why. I just started posting again consistently, because that’s the one thing that saved me, was just consistency. People can get discouraged by the numbers and things not growing, but it’s about me just knowing I could just have that one thing, which is consistency. It was great. And then, boom, the subscribers started coming out of nowhere. And before you know it, it’s just like, ‘yo, I really just hit 100K subscribers.’
The thing for content creators is that monetization is very important. You could get a lot of followers, but monetization is what actually feeds you and gives you the ability to make better content. How did you feel when you first started to monetize your content?
You can have your craft, but you’ve got to be a businessman about it. I see my content as products, so I put it out there and people love it. So then it was really about understanding, okay, what’s the best way to monetize and tailor my content around that? So I really try to make sure that I’m getting the best out of what I could get from these platforms.
Have you been taken seriously by brands reaching out to you for partnerships and to promote products? Has being recognized by brands been an ongoing journey, or are they getting it and realizing ‘this is the guy that I need to partner with?’
I feel like, honestly, I had to spark that within myself. The mistake I really made early on was just thinking that I had to be in the hands of like, a manager or something, when it’s really moreso, ‘if I really want that brand placement, let me reach out to them myself.’ And I feel like it’s only the beginning because I’ve barely done any brands, like promos and all of that like doing that. And even when I do it, I really try to make it within my content. So I say now it’s definitely just been flooding in for us. And I feel like what separates me from other content creators in that aspect is because I can fit any brand, any promo within my page. So let’s say, oh, you’re selling some water. You told me I could really make a skit about water, how good that junk is. And I’ll go crazy for her. So that’s definitely what it was. And that versatility is something that 95% of people, specifically content creators, don’t necessarily have.
How important were your comedic skits in promoting your music?
Honestly, I see everything as one. So when I drop a song, I try to make it something where I can give it life by visuals, which is through my skits. The reason why my skits made it so easy for me to promote my music is because I’m music oriented. I realized I actually struggled by impersonating other rappers, because it felt like I was always hidden behind something. So when it actually came down at the time for me to actually put my real music out, it wasn’t really moving like that. So now I’ve made it a point where it’s just like they say, oh, let’s say literally every skit I drop is a new song for them. That’s the beautiful thing about it. It’s new music. That’s where their minds are and that’s where I bring them to in the long run. So, yeah, definitely. I feel like I treated them all the same. You are your own promotional vehicle.
Thing is, too, a lot of artists can’t necessarily market their social media. So the artists will contact an Instagram comedian or the artist will contact a YouTube influencer. You’re, all those things, all of the above. So you could just do it yourself, right?
100%. I could just do it myself and really just get stuff moving.
How does your family feel about you doing skits and making music and pursuing creativity?
That is a great question to ask because just like, you know, definitely within African culture, they’d be like, oh, be a lawyer. But it’s really about building that foundation, believing in yourself, and you just have to show them that you’re thrilled with it. She really started seeing the vision. My family started seeing the vision, and that’s what it is. And I was just really taking that vision all the way for me.
Tell me about your college experience.
I feel like the college experience was a great experience. It really just set a new blueprint in my mind because when I was in college, I had to deal with a lot of stuff. I am free now.
What kind of stuff?
Just balancing the content creation – making sure I maintained a good GPA, things like that. But it was cool blowing up in college. It’s kind of cool walking around sometimes. People like, ‘yo, bro, you’re on TikTok. Can I get a picture, bro?’ It was pretty cool. So it was a dope experience. I’m just happy to really just move on forward from it and just really continue to grow.
What major obstacles did you have to overcome to get here?
I feel like one thing that has kept me motivated was honestly fear of not reaching my true potential. You know. Because I was at a point last summer – I had just got out of a crazy relationship. I had toxic addictions. It was honestly me realizing if I really want to take this to the promised land. I gotta take it to the next level. What really honestly happened was me actually going on a semen retention journey.
Talk to me about the semen retention journey.
For me, I feel like it’s all about protecting your energy. And to really dive into the toxic addictions, it was really, I’m going to be 100% transparent. Be real. I had a crazy porn addiction back then. I was addicted to weed and all of that. And then I realized, ‘yo, that junk is not me.’ Because stuff like that holds you back. And I know for me, in the mainstream today, that journey gets marketed as it’s normal, it’s regular, but it’s not normal. It’s a regular. So I really had to just break away from those things and really just focus on myself and be at my peer state. So that really what drove me, is, like, I don’t want to fake it to make it. I don’t want to juggle doing these bad things and try to achieve these great things simultaneously. If I want something, I’ve got to embody it to the fullest extent. So I really just overcame it. And I’m still just grateful that I realized that. Because it could have been a point where it could have been too late, but it’s about really just breaking those chains. Breaking those negative habits. Because I know there’s a lot of things that we struggle with. It’s really about being 100% with yourself. And that’s what I had to do for myself. So, wow. I’m still on that journey. I feel like it has so many benefits.
What are the benefits of semen retention?
Mentally it gives you a clear path, clear mind, more confidence. That female attraction is crazy for me, so it just puts you on a different level. So that’s what it was. I guess you’re just closer to reaching your God given potential as a human. But, you know, a lot of people, they want to do that kind of stuff, and they find it hard to kind of break addiction.
What are a few things that you’ve done to actually break the addictions?
I really had to just understand, ‘yo, if I want to overcome this and I got to strengthen my faith in God.’ It really honestly took prayer. It took me journaling my thoughts and working out. Getting back to myself, getting back to who I truly am. Understanding that it just creates more mental battle for you when you just dive into those things.
When you just start to do those habits that are really great for you, it compounds over time. So now you have a whole different thinking process.
I’m now able to look at my old self and it’s like it’s so unfamiliar to me because now that’s what I want it, I don’t want to look at myself and say, ‘oh, wait, yo, you could have been doing better.’ I’m looking at yourself like,’ I’m not going to be you again. I’m going to shed that old skin.’ So now the new me does not indulge over indulge in sex and weed and all that. Not saying that it’s bad, but it’s just not me. And that’s all it’s about. People think that you have to mimic somebody else’s path. It’s really about hearing that true voice inside your mind and saying, ‘yo, you got to do this for yourself.’ Like, there’s no running away. Everybody’s got to face themselves at some point. And I just showed that at that moment. And I’m still doing it now. Every day is a battle, so we just have to win that battle every day.
I feel like you’re so far ahead of most men your age. What is some advice that you give to men out there that are your age that don’t necessarily have the wisdom to avoid certain vices?
I feel like the best advice is, honestly, you have to take that step of self introspection. I literally had to sit myself from time to time and really just question the thoughts in my mind, challenge my own beliefs, and really just understand, ‘okay, are there things that I’m doing that are holding me back or letting me grow?’ Because the thing is, too, don’t get it wrong, there’s always going to be those urges to do those things. But what stops me from those urges is, okay, let’s say if I want to get back on an addiction or whatever, or smoke, eat or whatever, I draw the path of it before me. I visualize the outcome. I visualize how I would feel if I succumb to those things. And then I visualize the path of greatness. So that’s what it is. It’s getting in your mind and asking, ‘which version of yourself do you want to be every day?’
What are some tips for self introspection?
Everytime you choose that better version, just know it’s never in vain, and that you’re getting 1% better every day. That’s really what it is. It’s taking that self introspection journal and actually journaling your thoughts, how you feel and all that. And always pray to God, keep that faith in God for me, because it’s closer to you than you know. So it’s really about locking in with yourself.
Tell me about your future, bro. Like, what do you see for yourself in your future?
The next five years, ten years? I feel truthfully, like, the future’s so bright. It’s honestly scary because of course, it will be censored around music. But I plan to do shows and have intros where I introduce my performances with a skit. I have different sets for my characters. Crazy different. Stuff like that. I’m really just being somebody different. Like, a lot of people would compare. So I’m grateful for the comparisons. Like, I could be like the new generation’s Jamie Foxx or Childish Gambino with how I’m moving. That’s really the plan. It’s really about just building the brand, building the iceberg, growing it for the fans and really just sharing my music, sharing my passion with you guys. And really just really all the people that you can believe in me being there with me for, because we all have stories to tell. And it’s just about if you believe in yourself and you really just look into yourself and the future is bright, it’s really about it’s such an infectious thing when you realize your true potential could spread to others. So the future for me is about building the ISO verse, going with the gang, going with the family and just taking things to the next level and never stopping. Only look back for inspiration.
Who is one person that you would like to work with on the comedic side if you can make the skit with them? And who’s one person that you would love to work on the music side to make a song with them?
On the music side, of course I gotta go with Aubrey Drake Graham. Drake would go crazy forreal. And on the skit side, I’d say Druski.
Tell me about any upcoming music projects that you have on the way.
I dropped my narrow path. EP, that’s going crazy for me. I did that to really just show that I can do anything. I could drop the music and skits because I see it as one. Honestly, really, the next step is really dropping music, doing more shows and just bringing these crazy ideas. I have so many ideas in my mind and I’m just going to bring them out. It’s going to the next level.