Remember the name Ken Car$on. An up-and-coming 18-year-old talent hailing from Atlanta, Car$on brings fresh energy to the glitchy, stripped-back rap subgenre commonly associated with the city. His infectious flows – injected with the immediacy and spontaneity of a freestyle – have earned him a cult following. His hotly anticipated debut album, Project X, picks up from the success of Car$on’s EP’s Boy Barbie and Teen X and should be arriving by the end of the summer.
Car$on charts the development of his music career from an especially early age, having had his time at military school shortened after being kicked out three months in. This early start provides Car$on with an edge of experience over his peers, partially responsible for his unique perspective, and the maturity identifiable in the forging of his own musical path. With his refreshing take on the rap subgenre popularized by Playboi Carti among others, it should come as no surprise that Car$on signed with Opium, Playboi Carti’s label. Indeed, Car$on cites Carti as a major influence behind his unique blend of punk and rap.
So… What can we expect from the debut album?
With an idiosyncratic sound that departs from traditional Atlanta trap, Car$on’s Project X represents a clear step towards establishing his independent voice – a mission statement, of sorts, which separates him from what he views as the homogenous style dominating Atlanta’s hip-hop scene. Channeling this spirit of rebellion against the status quo, Car$on wants Project X, titled after Nima Nourizadeh’s film of the same name, to match the film’s youthful, irreverent energy.
To contextualize the music and buzz surrounding Project X, we talked fashion and influences with the man himself:
Tell me about your experience in school, and when did you start to gain an interest in music?
To be honest, I never really went to school like that; I went to military school. I was kicked out of military school too so I guess school was never really my thing.
How was your expulsion from military school influential to your career today?
I got kicked out for having my phone, it was a six month session and I got kicked out after three months. I started focusing on music around then so it would not have made any difference whether I stayed in military school or not.
Atlanta is a center-point for rap and rap culture. Do you think that you would have had the same success that you do now, growing up in a different city?
I would, I definitely would. In Atlanta people always gravitate towards one genre of music, but even though I am still making rap it is not the regular trap that you always hear. In Atlanta if you don’t bump 4PF or YSL or anything of that matter, you do not matter. It is harder than it looks. People think that in Atlanta everybody is helping each other, but that's not always the case. If you don’t associate with that crowd then people don’t really gravitate to you, so I really made my own lane.
Clearly music is taking up the majority of your time right now. Do you have any new fashion ventures or pop-up shops that you are planning for the future as well?
Yes. I am planning on doing a pop-up at Nubian Tokyo when the gates open. I am currently communicating with Maison Mihara Yasuhiro too... I am hoping to get a collaboration with him soon.
If you could work with one designer, one producer, and one artist right now who would they be?
For the designer it would have to be Mr. Yasuhiro himself, for a producer I would pick Star Boy. For an artist...give me Carti.
What would you say is your Mount Rushmore of brands right now?
Number (N)ine is in there for sure because I am always wearing a Number (N)ine T-shirt. Undercover is in there as well, along with Maison Mihara Yasuhiro. Don’t forget Comme Des Garçons too.
What do you have to say on the relationship of music and fashion in today’s culture?
It definitely matters, style embodies style. I make the kind of music that I make for the same reason why I wear the clothes that I wear. I can almost tell what a person’s style is through the music that they are making.
When we can expect the debut album, and what would you say to the fans that have been with you from the start of this journey?
You can expect the album in August. And to the fans that are with me right now, I would say that you can do anything that you put your mind to, don’t let anybody ever tell you differently. Instagram is a distraction, social media is a distraction, you can turn it all off, get to work, and then turn it on months later to show everybody what you have accomplished.