KSI took time out from running his multimedia empire to speak to The Big Issue. It comes as a new documentary, KSI: In Real Life will be released, alongside a new single Voices.
Real name Olajide Olatunji, but known as JJ, revealed details about his music career, plans for Misfits Boxing and explained the crazy demand for his Prime Hydration drink, plus much more.
Here are a few of the highlights from our interview with KSI.
1. The difference between KSI and JJ
KSI stands for Knowledge, Strength and Integrity. When Olatunji started his YouTube account aged 15, these three letters became his alter ego. So what is the difference between KSI and JJ?
He told The Big Issue: “JJ is me. I wake up and I look in the mirror and that’s me, JJ. KSI is my alter ego where I’m able to be a character, super confident, the one who’d get all the girls. JJ is introverted, keeps to himself, likes his own space, being a little nerd.
“Back in the day, I was always KSI, I was never myself. Having to be full of energy, always hype, always shouting. I always just had to keep pushing the envelope over and over. And I kind of lost myself. Nowadays, I know who I am.”
2. KSI resented being seen as a role model when he started out
As KSI’s audience grew into millions, he found himself becoming a role model. It was not a position he liked.
KSI said: “I didn’t want all these people looking up to me, watching everything I did and expecting me to be perfect. Because I knew I was going to mess up. I knew I was going to fail. I resented being a role model. That’s another reason I would go off the rails, to try and be the worst role model possible just to get everyone off my back.”
3. But now he sees the positive role he can play in young lives
Millions of people hanging on every word is a lot of responsibility for anyone, let alone for a young man who just wanted to talk about his favourite video games. But as he’s grown older he’s come to recognise how that can be a force for good in the world.
“So many young adults are lost in this world and don’t really know what to do,” he said.
“So it’s cool that I can help some people, guide them in the right direction. To let them know that it’s OK to be yourself because no one can be better at you than you. I’m always trying to portray to my audience that if you work hard, opportunity will arise. Take advantage then it will lead to bigger and better opportunities.”
4. KSI thinks Andrew Tate is ‘out of order‘
Another influencer with a massive following is Andrew Tate, the proud misogynist currently under arrest in Romania under rape and human trafficking charges.
KSI said: “I know a lot of people, especially young men are looking at people like Andrew Tate like, ok, he is what I need to be in order to be an improved human, etc. Personally, I don’t think he is the best role model because of like the things he says and does, I just think it’s just a bit out of order.”
KSI continued: “I’m kind of in that space, and I know a lot of people look up to me and I feel like rather than chasing money, rather than chasing materialistic things, rather than treating people badly, I say legacy is a good goal to have.”
5. Why Prime is so hard to find
It’s caused pre-dawn queues and fights in the aisles of Aldi. Sourcing bottles of Prime, a drink KSI launched with Logan Paul has become an obsession for his fans. KSI explained why stock is so hard to find.
KSI explained: “I think the reason why there’s a lot of people struggling to get it is because there’s three groups of people. There’s one group that have never tried Prime and they want to try it. You have people who’ve tried Prime, love it and want to have it again. Then you have people who just want to resell it because of the hype.
“So you’ve got these three groups of people trying to buy Prime and that’s why there’s just hardly any, ever.”
6. The flavours of Prime KSI hates
Perhaps there should be less demand for flavours that even KSI admits he doesn’t like.
“I hate Grape,” he admitted. “I’m not a fan. I’m being honest. Not too keen on Orange as well.”
And perhaps demand will become even stronger for the flavours he said he likes best: “Strawberry Watermelon, the pink one. Tropical Punch bangs. Blue Raspberry and Meta Moon are up there as well.”
7. KSI wants his Misfits Boxing company to be as big as WWE or UFC
KSI is conquering the crossover boxing market, selling out arenas with amateur fighters, including himself.
“It’s creating a buzz in the whole boxing scene,” KSI said, “So much that the purist boxing traditionalists are hating on it.”
KSI said he quite enjoys annoying the purists.
“It’s funny because we’re getting the kids and young adults interested and inspired. The other side don’t really know what to do about it, saying it’s not real boxing. I think if anything, they can learn a thing or two from what we’re doing, especially when it comes to marketing. How we focus on the undercard as much as the main event. We make sure every person is getting the mic and is able to build themselves up and become a star.”
He also shared his very ambitious plans for Misfits.
“I want it to be as big as the UFC, as big as WWE. I truly believe it’s going to be, one of, if not the biggest, scenes in combat sport.”
KSI: In Real Life launches on Prime Video on January 26. His new single Voices ft Oliver Tree is out January 27
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