Tell us who you are and what you do!
My name is Ian aka Izeke Tha Swank King (Izeke or Swank for short) I’m 20 and I am from St. Paul Minnesota. I currently live in Atlanta in Cobb County. I am a Producer/Rapper who likes to tell stories with my music. I started making music in middle school by mashing up random songs using Virtual DJ and that eventually led to me learning how to DJ, which eventually led to learning how to produce, which made me want to rap.
When I tell people I’m from Minnesota one of two things come to their mind. One, “Man, I heard it’s cold and snowy over there” and two, Lil Yachty’s song Cold Like Minnesota. Yes, Minnesota gets ridiculously cold in the winter but a lot goes on there that many people don’t know about, especially the vibrant upcoming music scene.
We have a lot of dope underground and rising rappers, producers, DJs and singers who have worked with big names like my boys Allan Kingdom, Bobby Raps, Psymun, Corban and my own cousin Choc Villah. Also, our biggest star, the one and only Prince. These guys really made Minnesota stand out and they inspired me to do what I do now.
Moving to Atlanta was a huge change and to cope with it I turned to music. At first, I was shy to show my craft so I came up with a character named Mr. Psychedelicx and occasionally when you listen to some of my music you may hear in the beginning, a soft creepy voice say “Mr.Psychedelicx”.
Mr. Psychedelicx is my alter ego who is the producer side of me and if heard on a track has deepend pitched vocals. I would compare him to Eminem’s Slim Shady or Flying Lotus’s Captain Murphy characters.
What is the inspiration for your work?
Like I mentioned before, I’m inspired by the local artists from Minnesota, but also the inspiration for my work stems from many different things like what I see and hear day-to-day and my emotions. My main inspiration is my love of music and all the different types of music I listened to growing up that my parents would play. That music consisted of a lot of African (specifically Ugandan) music, Reggae, R&B, Gospel and Hip-Hop. Eventually, as I got older I discovered Rock, Alternative and Indie music.
As far as artists, my inspirations are Tyler The Creator because he goes about his craft doing things exactly how he wants to do it and not caring what people think. Flying Lotus because he is abstract, Bob Marley because he believed we as people should be one and peace will come by injecting music and love into people’s lives and Kid Cudi because he helped me believe that you can overcome any obstacle in life.
My sound is unique but recognizable. I have that sound that brings the listener nostalgic good vibes, while taking you on a journey full of positive energy. If I had to put myself in a genre I would say its Alternative. As far as beats, most of them consist of random samples coming from classical, jazz and house music. When I am rapping I also like to go for a unique sound but people tend to compare me to artists like Earl Sweatshirt or Chester Watson because of the subject matter and simulator style, which I have no problem with.
What would you say to prevent an upcoming artist from making the same mistakes you have made?
Never and I mean NEVER let anybody or anything stop you from doing what you love because it can cause you to miss out on big opportunities. Don’t listen to anybody who says you aren’t good at anything or won’t amount to anything even if it comes from a close friend or family member. You’re unique and talented in one way or another. Also, if you have a performance always carry a flash drive with a backup of your music I learned that the hard way, lol.
What obstacles have you faced as a Black Artist/Business Owner? How did you overcome them?
An obstacle I have faced as a young black artist is the criticism I sometimes get for telling people I like to make music (more specifically Hip-Hop music) in my free time. When I tell people that this is something I love to do and can hopefully make a career out of, I get that awkward, “oh ok… you can do it” when in reality they are thinking “this is just another black boy trying to do what any typical black boy wants” or “there is so much competition you should pursue something else”. I overcome that obstacle by keeping quiet and letting my talent speak for itself.
My goal for the future is to be successful no matter what I do and not necessarily just music related things.