From The Magazine

Ken Carson Goes Global

The rapper is having his biggest year to date, with a headlining world tour beginning this summer.

Man with braids wearing a black shirt and silver jewelry, sitting in a red car interior, looking int...
Pat Martin/NYLON

Growing up in the Atlanta music scene, Ken Carson’s big break began, fittingly, in a music studio, where he first met Playboy Carti. Five years later, Carson is still learning from the rap icon while also continuing to try and keep everyone on their toes. “The music part is the easiest part,” he says. “Switching everything up and keeping it all going, that is the hard part.”

After playing Coachella for the first time this year, Carson has continued to soar: His single “overseas” landed him on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and his upcoming world tour kicks off on July 8. But first, he’ll join the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the first leg of their own tour beginning on May 28.

Here, a few things you may not know about the rapper on the rise.

He’s a secret cinephile. “If I’m not in the studio, I’ll be watching a movie,” says Carson. “Everything I watch, nobody would be thinking I watched it.” Recent favorites: 2022 historical action thriller Sisu and 2006’s Apocalypto — but taste is not monolithic. “Sometimes I watch some bullsh*t.” What else could we expect from an artist whose recent album, 2023’s A Great Chaos, featured a song titled “Jennifer’s Body”?

His philosophy for putting on a good concert is simple: Keep the energy and the vibes high. Artists need to move around and do more onstage than just rap the song, he says.

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This year’s Coachella set was Carson’s first time at the festival. His only mantra going in was to stay open-minded. “I know people who’ve performed there, but I never really been, ‘Yo, give me tips on Coachella.’” He focused on prepping mentally and physically (“diet and working out and sh*t”) and getting ready for the unexpected. “It’s going to be my first time performing my album. Everything is always changing until the day of.”

Sabrina Carpenter was on the top of his list to see at the festival (and pre-“Espresso,” no less), but the full list was wide-ranging. “Deftones, Skepta, Faye Webster, Grimes. Blur, LE SSERAFIM. Doja Cat. Man, I’m going to pull up.”

Photographs by Pat Martin

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