Kenny Iko is here to bless the world with his smooth, sultry voice, dance moves, and undeniable charm. Hailing from Washington D.C., the rising star is preserving that timeless R&B energy jam packed with love, lust, and everything in between. When it comes to his talents, the singer-songwriter prides himself in his delivery, giving fans the ultimate musical experience.
Formerly the lead singer of the group 4EY, Kenny fell in love with Michael Jackson (his favorite artist) at a young age, a direct influence for his artistry to date. Describing himself as “a hardworking artist that loves music and loves creating,” Kenny is passionate, driven, and ready to take things to the next level — which as of recently includes acting as well.
Now, he returns with his newest single titled “Everything,” a romantic ballad about being in love and wanting to give your significant other the entire world. Kenny is living proof that you really can turn your dreams into a reality, without the need to switch up for nobody.
Flaunt caught up with Kenny via Zoom to discuss his upbringing on the East Coast, transitioning to being a solo artist, background dancing, the role of TikTok in his career, his new single “Everything,” studio essentials, dream collaboration, and more!
How would you describe growing up in Washington D.C.?
Growing up, I had my mom, my dad, my brother and my sister. Typically in a lot of households, there isn’t always both parents there, both parents providing and being so on top of you. They always came to all our sporting events, all my talent shows, studio sessions and everything. They’re always super supportive of me and my dreams, what I wanted to do. Music’s definitely one of the first things I fell in love with watching Michael Jackson so much. My father was a big Michael Jackson fan and Janet Jackson fan so I fell right into that with him.
Talk to us about incorporating choreography with your artistry.
At first, I wanted to dance but I was one of those people who had two left feet. I couldn’t move to save my life but then I joined a boy band called 4EY The Future. We went through this rigorous artist development process where 6 days a week we’re in choreography training, weight training, studio, media training, all those things. I physically learned how to dance so I took that and ran with it. Kept practicing, kept trying to learn different techniques, then I found TikTok and the rest is history. [laughs]
How much of a role does TikTok play in your career?
Since COVID, it helped brighten my horizons to other people who probably didn’t know who I was at the time. Since I couldn’t go out and perform anymore, that’s one of my biggest outlets and biggest ways to gain and get new followers, fans, supporters. TikTok came aboard and all you do is show your personality, show that you can dance if you can, or show you. It’s so different from Instagram where everything’s super prepared, super laid out in a formulated blueprint. What you post, how you should post is already there so you gotta follow that criteria, but TikTok is a free space to be you. People started gravitating towards me from that, then it turned over to my music and my career. I love it, it definitely helps.
Fondest memories from being in 4EY The Future? I know you were the lead singer.
I have a lot of dope memories because we toured and traveled a lot, had a lot of fun. That’s my first time seeing groupies, all that good stuff. One of the most memorable moments is I got to meet Usher. We’re in the dressing room getting ready to perform, for some reason he had to use the bathroom really bad. He knocked on the door and said “hey guys, I’m so sorry but can I use your restroom?” You’re Usher Raymond, get in here! He came in and said “y’all sound dope,” he dapped us up. We took a picture with him, then he left out. That was a moment because after Michael Jackson, it’s Usher for me. It was dope, he’s everything I thought he would be. Super cool, super laid back, just chill.
Being the R&B singer you are, what do you admire about Usher?
I love the fact that Usher was able to evolve with the times with his music, and he still stays true to him. I love artists who really put themselves on the line: whatever they’re going through in their personal lives they put into their music. Usher really did that with that Confessions album. How he is, he’s super honest with everything. I can relate to that, and to him a lot.
How’s it been transitioning into your solo career?
Oh man, it’s been the best situation I can be in. When I was in a group, we’re doing a lot of bubble gum music. We couldn’t really be ourselves. It was a facade, we’re these puppets they wanted us to be. We’re all cool with it because we saw it working, but at the same time, we’re growing into grown men. We had our own experiences, own things we wanted to talk about, but we couldn’t because we’re still scooting over doing dance songs. When I finally got to get out of it, I went into the studio with my team, The Directors. At first I was stuck in that mindset, they said “go home, experience some things. Talk your shit, talk about what you want to talk about.” Your first time coming out, you really can be whoever you want to be, say whatever you want to say, and create the music you want to create. I was able to do that, especially with my first EP War of Love. It tells you a lot about what I want to be as an artist, who I am as an artist, where I see myself going in the future as an artist.
Who or what inspired your new song, “Everything”?
This record was definitely inspired by my ex. I went to a place where even though we broke up, it’s always some great things that happened in the beginning of the relationship. You know what, I’m not gonna focus on how it ended and how it got bad. I’ma go back to that one moment where I thought we’re gonna be together forever. I thought this was it, she was everything. It’s the best part of a relationship. I wrote on that, spoke on that, and that’s what came about. Of course it has heavy influence from my favorite artist, Michael Jackson. It happened really organically, I didn’t even think I was doing anything similar to him. When it was all done, everyone started saying “this gives me a Michael Jackson vibe.” I’m like oh yeah, it really does. I love that song, my favorite song I’ve put out so far.
What’s your favorite Michael Jackson song?
Aw man, I got so many. “Leave Me Alone,” “Man in the Mirror,” my most favorite is “Remember the Time.” The video was next level.
What do you want fans to get from “Everything”?
I want fans to take a step back and listen, go back to when R&B was classic music. You could hear this song at weddings to come far from now, years from now. This will always be a song that you play at a wedding, when you’re about to propose to your wife or husband. I want it to be a timeless song, give them something timeless that we don’t really get a lot in today’s industry in today’s music because everything’s so quick and trendy. This gave us a little step back to some old school, but also relevant wording.
3 things you need in the studio?
One is water. Two, definitely gotta have a bottle of Patron or D’usse. Any type of liquor to keep the mood going. Also, Chipotle.
What’s your order at Chipotle?
I’ll probably get a chicken quesadilla so it’s a little quicker to eat, or a burrito.
We see you flexing, what’s your workout regimen?
Right now since the New Year started I’ve been going everyday except for Sunday, I rest on Sundays. Honestly even Monday through Friday, I’ve been doing two a days. Because this next single I’m about to drop after “Everything” is gonna be very sexual and I want to make sure that I bring a similar vibe to D’Angelo’s, and Trey Songz’. I gotta make sure them abs are crazy, the biceps are crazy. We’re really putting in work.
Best encounter you’ve had with a fan?
I was in the group, it was a real down day for me because we’re traveling a lot. I was missing my family, missing being away from everyone. One of my fans saw that from what I’d been posting on social media and when we came to the show, she found a way to get backstage. She had this gift bag for me and then a poster with my name on it and a picture of me. In the bag was Sour Patches and wife beaters, because I always talk about how they take my wife beaters or I lose them. She was a real fan that listens to what I’m talking about, her gift bag was everything.
What are you excited for in the New Year?
I’m excited. Hopefully we find some way to control the COVID and get back to whatever regular living, being able to perform again. Being able to travel. Aside from music, I want to start traveling the world because my fanbase is starting to grow in other countries. I get a lot of people in London and Africa like “hey, come out here please!” A lot of places people always hit me and I want to be able to travel and do little shows in places to see the world and touch the people.
What can we expect music-wise?
We got this new single called “T-Shirt,” it’s definitely baby-making music. I’m trying to really bring R&B back. We’re going to bring R&B back. With this one, it’s gonna be real sexy. Tastefully sexy, just dope. Everyone’s going to be making some babies to it, or doing some bad things to it. I’m really excited for this music video.
What’s one thing that fans may not know about you?
This whole quarantine, I really got into anime. I got into Attack on Titan, Seven Deadly Sins, One Punch Man. I’ve been into Naruto, I never liked Naruto growing up and I’ve watched almost all the seasons.
I kept hearing about it. Netflix, you get tired of watching certain things. Those shows were coming on, so let me try this out. Seven Deadly Sins was the first one. It was funny and the action was good, the storylines are good too so I started going to other things. Everything I used to hear about, let me go check it out. I became an anime head.
Who’s your dream collaborator?
I’d love to do something with Ari Lennox because she’s from the DMV area also. Our little vibes together with the natural hair, the vibes, skin tones, voices, and everything, that together would be so dope for the city and dope for music.