Oh, those college days.
Looking for fresh, raw and authentic talent can prove difficult in the 21st century. With lawsuits left and right hitting the highest profiting artists, where can you find a new sound?
Originally named Kid Pro, ISO Superb knew his first alias wouldn’t follow him forever.
“Kid Pro is make shift as hell,” said 19-year-old Kian. “I wanted something I could connect to and ISO Superb drew inspiration from my family and childhood.”
Kian’s father, a photographer, drew the association to the “ISO” portion.
“The main component of working a camera is its level of sensitivity,” said the Howard County, MD native. “Growing up, my family didn’t have as much money; yet, we understood the concept of treating each other as royalty.”
It’s About Respect
Combine the two words and you get this up-and-coming talent.
Kian’s childhood often translates to his lyrics, which can be seen in one of his tracks titled“89” feat. ISO Superb (prod. Kamani Way). Yet keep in mind, the line that sticks out the most is “cooking ramen noodles in my dorm.”
The Japanese noodles are easy to cook at night and every time he whips it up, he sings the line in his head (and sometimes out loud).
“My roommate’s girlfriend memorized all the lyrics and sometimes she rushes into the room and just says the line for fun. It’s my personal favorite.”
While most hopeful artists continue to look up toDrake, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, ISO Superb surprises with his inspirational figures. His list included 20-year-old Felly, Lupe Fiasco and DC independent artist Oddisee. Yet when we began talking about previous emcee that use to roam around University of Maryland…
“Fuck Logic. I don’t like him at all.” —ISO Superb
Kian stated, several of Logic’s songs sounded like carbon copies of other artist’s music.
- Like Woah: Alright by Kendrick Lamar
- I Am The Greatest: Tale of 2 Citiez by J. Cole
- Lord Willin': 3005 by Childish Gambino
“He has talent and the ability to make good sounding music. If he can figure out how to do it in his own style, I will take back my statement.”
Rising To The Top
The beginning stages of any artist’s breakout can be difficult, but the details are always interesting. Famed rapper Lupe Fiasco has long been one of Kian’s biggest influences.
One day, he found himself in a Twitter battle with @LupeFiasco.
The two went back and forth for quite some time until Lupe ended it for good stating, he just made him famous for 15 minutes. ISO Superb’s followers increased as Twitter users thought he owned enough talent and validation from a superstar.
“It was difficult because you have so much you want to say in your head, but you have less than 140 characters to work with.”
Additional influences (obviously not Logic), include DC artist Oddisee and Connecticut-based Felly.
“That could be me in a couple years.”
Since he was 12, Kian knew he wanted to be a video game designer. He hopes to one day move to Toronto and work with a producer named D.R.O. claiming he offers some of the sickest beats. In five years, he hopes to move out of the area in order to further pursue his music and learn more about other cultures.
“Drake made Toronto cool and people watched him. Once he made OVO, he put the city on the map when people previously disrespected the fuck out of Canada.”
Crafting lyrics can be challenging for any artist, but also mixing the equivalent beats to synthesize with the entire track proves even more difficult.
ISO Superb shares his process to craft each song is always different. In a few instances, he listens to beats (yes, just beats) for 20 minutes to an hour before drafting a few words and phrases to accompany.
While most students plug in their headphones to listen to Kanye’s new album, Kian takes the few minutes to freestyle. Any moment he takes ranging from showering to eating, ISO Superb uses as he shares that the perfect lines come when you least expect it.
At University of Maryland, Kian surrounds himself with friends from home with equivalent talent working with such as Al Maralen.
A member of “The Collectives,” Kian works with a group to combine creative ideas in all areas of the arts ranging from music, photo, fashion and more. The gathering brings like-minded creative minds to work on projects together, host events, discuss opportunities and network outside a person’s clique. Recent talent including Innanet James and John O’Connor (manager of PARTYNEXTDOOR) shared insight and inspiration for students looking to reach goals with a college degree in mind.
Discovering “So Important”
Diablo, Nymbos and ISO Superb teamed up to create the track and even gathered to perform at a Benefit Concert.
The overall arching message though remains, “People will not fuck with you for a minute if you’re low key, but once you start poppin; it gets lit.”
Kian shared his struggle with defining friends from his squad. He recalls moments when girls would blow up his phone when he gained a bit of attention.
The hook of the song, he felt as if he was expressing himself without any fear of someone else liking his words or beats.
“This is my passion and my love: music.”
Towards the end of the song, a scream-like high pitch sound fills the entire track. The reason: the gain interest after dwelling deep into the song. The beat filters out and adds a momentary pause before tracing back to the original song.
Words of Wisdom
“No matter what, always be true to yourself. Never forget who you are and don’t let what other people say about you alter yourself. That applies vice-versa. People see things differently and you should always be proud of yourself. Cut negativity out of your life. It’s impossible to get Yin and Yang. Try and remain as happy as you can!”
Photos by Kevin Assié.