Everyone loves some Shugga — Big Shugga, that is. The face behind some of nightlife’s most legendary performances, music’s most gender-bending tunes, and fashion’s most iconic looks, Ian Isiah has become one of today’s most influential figures. Whether he’s in the studio or alongside bestie and Hood By Air founder Shayne Oliver, everything Isiah does is all about the future.
Where are you from?
Brooklyn, New York all day every day! Bedstuy, Brooklyn, Brownsville, all over, ya heard! 718!
In your own words, what do you do?
I’m an artist, I’m a developer, I’m a mother.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Since I’m a mother, I’m an artist, I’m a developer, I also have kids. I have to develop that — it’s not just about this generation, it’s about the future. So my hardest job is the future.
Who are some of your role models?
Whitney Houston, God rest her soul! Unfortunately, all my role models are dead so I’m looking for the new. That’s why I’m working on the new generation. Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, every Black person in the ‘60s and ‘70s, every pimp that came forward since the ‘60s and ‘70s, Chinese people. That’s my inspiration right now.
What do you stand for?
I stand for pride. I stand for tomorrow. A lot of people are busy in the trends today. There’s no space for the future if you’re stuck in one trend. So that’s where I’m at: tomorrow.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to break into the industry?
Stop searching for support from somebody else — you’re wasting time. That support comes from the content and the work that you are doing. That support system, somebody helping you post, helping you market and things of that sort — all that other stuff comes secondary. We have to learn patience, take a minute and enjoy your baby because it’s yours.
What’s your favorite and least favorite part about NYC’s nightlife scene?
My favorite thing went away a long time ago. My problem with the nightlife scene is that this generation jumped right into it, and think it’s all about bringing all your friends out and doing as many drugs as possible for $20. When we were growing up, it wasn’t a big drug scene, or it was, but we were like, ‘We’re black, we’re not going to fall into that.’ But it’s not about drugs, it’s really about kiking with your friends and having a good time, then you run into the right people. We didn’t know we’d be in the same club with the fab black girl with short hair, and now she’s Kelis. Because they don’t have that anywhere else. A lot of people here don’t realize you have to take care of the nightlife scene because it’s not just nightlife — it’s the culture. And everything is built around that. But we’re losing it because we aren’t owning the culture and the nightlife. And once black people stop allowing no control over our culture, our culture gets taken away from us. Yeah we’re having fun at night, yeah the fliers look good, but the white man owns the venture.
Photography: Myles Loftin
Taken from Issue 00