Kossisko Konan has been through a lot in his 23 years on Earth. When he was 15, his parents sent him to West Africa for what he thought was a month-long trip (he soon learned that he’d been sent there to live indefinitely). At 19, he was back in California, making rap music as a semi-satirical pimp character called 100s. He released the mixtape Ice Cold Perm and was promptly hailed by music press as an heir to the throne of pimp rap – a style popularized by M.C.s like Snoop Dogg, Mac Dre and Too $hort. 100s was a stone-cold mack whose verses were flecked with laugh-out-loud lyrics (“my dick game colder than a condo in Tahoe”). He signed to the tastemaker record label Fool’s Gold and his song ‘Life of a Mack’ was included on the soundtrack of the mega-blockbuster Grand Theft Auto 5.
Success came easily, but Kossisko quickly grew tired of the crass misogyny of the 100s character. In a new interview with Culture Creature, Kossisko recalls thinking, “Is this really what the fuck I want my legacy to be? I’m not fuckin’ proud of this shit.” In 2014, he retired the 100s persona with a brief goodbye message at the end of his video for ‘Ten Freaky Hoes’ (“it’s now time for me to continue my journey. So this is good bye”). Since then, he has released a solo album as Kossisko titled Red White N Cruel and begun work on a horror movie called 2037.
“It’s almost like I was reborn,” Kossisko says of his transformation. But 100s fans were left wondering why the rap star had vanished into thin air. In a genre that’s obsessed with authenticity, Kossisko had casually shrugged off his 100s persona and disappeared. One YouTube commenter read the 100s farewell message and exclaimed, ‘Why did he leave and what does he mean goodbye to the fans?’ Furthermore, where had the pimp known as 100s emerged from in the first place?
In our full interview below, Kossisko tells the incredible story of his traumatic trip to the Ivory Coast, his rise to fame as 100s, and his rebirth after retiring his rap persona.
Dan Redding: You were sent to a boarding school in West Africa when you were 15. Is it true that your parents tricked you into going there because you were getting into trouble?
Kossisko Konan: Yeah. What happened was, I was fuckin’ up. One day, my dad – he had tried everything. They had both tried everything. I had been having trouble for years, for as long as I can remember. In school, and with authority – I never respected [authority], I hated it. One day my dad called me and was like, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna go to the Ivory Coast.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, for sure.’ When I was five or six, I went for a month… It was paradise. I have a few memories, but they’re all amazing, you know? All my family, and the food, and the weather. So, we got there and some shit happened, and basically after a couple weeks, he told me, ‘You’re gonna be staying here… it is what it is, and it’s up to you when you come back. Your behavior is gonna determine when you come back.’ I just remember, when I left, when I was at the airport, my mother, when she said goodbye to me, there was this moment when she hugged me, and it was this weird emotional moment, you know? And I was like, why is she so upset about me going to Africa for a month? Something sorta told me, this isn’t what you think. Some shit’s about to go down.
Living in America, it’s like – you matter, you know? Everyone matters, and you have rights. Being a kid from America, you’d think, I could just say no, and then I’d come back. It didn’t even cross my mind that I would ever be in this situation – I had no control anymore. So that’s kinda what happened.
Honestly, it sounds like a pretty traumatic event. For any kid, that would be terrifying and heartbreaking. Plus, it sounds like what you went through when you were there – you contracted malaria, and it sounds like this boarding school was pretty harsh–
–‘boarding school’… I don’t even know if I could even call it that. When you hear ‘boarding school’ you picture different sites and there’s dorms… This was literally like, this motherfucker’s house, you know? The headmaster dude – it was just his house. Five people to a tiny-ass bedroom, you know? It was ridiculous. Not where you wanna be.
“I’m ninety percent sure that [100s] had something to do with my anger towards my mother”
What were these harsh punishments that were going on there?
It sort of varied… The boarding school was kind of like a charter school. Later, I went to public school. After I did this whole plan and I ran away from the boarding school and I got to the Embassy and they were like, ‘We can’t take you back because you’re not eighteen.’ So then, my dad was like, ‘Okay, I tried to make it a little bit easier for you, but since you’re not gettin’ it, I’ma really show you wassup.’ So then, that’s when he was like, fuck it – he sent me to my uncle’s house, who lived out in the middle of nowhere. That’s when I started going to public school and experiencing all that. It’s just like, violence that I’d never seen here. Because you can’t do that here. Kids getting hit with shit. Shit like that. It’s sort of a violent culture.
What’s your relationship like with your parents now?
It’s a lot better. That was something that I had to sort of get over, mentally – the whole experience. It’s good now.
You said in one interview that 100s was fueled by anger. What anger was that? Was that anger from this experience in Africa?
Yeah – well, while I was making [100s], I was just creating from somewhere. You can’t really explain what drives you to create certain things, but yeah, all this shit was coming from somewhere, from some sort of dark, dark, angry place. I didn’t really realize where it was coming from. It just wanted to get out. When I look at it from that perspective of the timing of it, I almost wanna say that I’m ninety percent sure that it had something to do with my anger towards my mother after this experience. I was an angry motherfucker after two years in Africa and not wanting to be there and all this shit happens to you. There’s shit that’s happened that I don’t even talk about. There was some beautiful parts, there was also some dark shit. I was angry. And that’s what fueled all that.
You became successful as 100s almost right away. Did rapping just come easily to you?
Yeah, I think so. Even before I had found my lane, the first song I ever made… I was listened to it recently, and I try to look at it objectively – I critique myself hard as fuck, in everything – I was listening to it, and I was like, ‘this ain’t bad.’ (laughter) It was cool, I’m proud of it, for sure… In Africa, that’s when I started writing my first little raps, listening to a bunch of Mac Dre and shit. And I would just write these raps but I didn’t record them.
You were convincing not just as a rapper but also as a pimp. What experiences in your life or in rap music were informing your portrayal of a pimp?
I knew pimps. And just being in the Bay, that’s the culture.
You knew pimps in the Bay Area?
Yeah, one of my really good friends at that time, that’s what he was into. I saw it firsthand, and also, I was just super fascinated by it for some reason. I found it super interesting.
Once you started to become successful, did you ever feel like you were being absorbed into the character?
You mean like, did I ever feel–
Was it ever hard to separate this fictional persona from who you were actually becoming?
Mmm, no. Some parts of the persona are the character, but then some parts are myself, like the humor – that’s myself. Some aspects were me, and some aspects were under a huge magnifying glass. But that shit never started happening. What happened was, once I started getting known for [100s], people would expect me to be a certain way, because of my persona in the music. So that shit would be kinda weird. When I’d talk to someone and I could tell they expected me to be this person. And I was like, I don’t know what you expect me to be or whatever the fuck. But no, it never changed me, I never felt that I had to be the fuckin’ character, you know?
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