From the ghetto streets, to the executive suite: Ken "Pimpin' Ken" Ivy

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 Meet Ken “Pimpin’ Ken” Ivy...a combination of razor sharp wit, a vivid personality and enough swagger for 10 men.  He is a self-made entrepreneur and author who grew up in the tough streets of East Side, Milwaukee.  He used his “gift of gab” and "power of the pen" catapult him to success.  As a former pimp, yes I said it, PIMP…Ken has mastered the art of “game” and how to play it...extraordinarily well. 

I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Ken Ivy to discuss his second book, “The Art of Human Chess…A Study Guide to Winning”.  It is a follow-up to his break-through novel, “Pimpology: The 48 Laws of the Game”, which quickly became a New York Times best seller.  In “48 Laws of the Game”, Ken demarcates between the value system in the streets versus that of mainstream America and the methodology of pimping as it can relate to gaining money and power in any situation.  “The Art of Human Chess…A Study Guide to Winning” expounds on these ideas as well as the theory that everything decision we make in our lives is a “chess move”.  A move that can either put you in a position of power or be your downfall.  Listen closely when he speaks, as he is bound to drop a jewel…

BSN:  Good evening Ken!  How are you?

PK:  I'm doing great, feeling blessed.  Thank you for having me.

BSN:  You have a very interesting story!  You went from being a legendary pimp on the street, to gaining world-wide fame after appearing on HBO’s “Pimps up Hoes down”.  How did that experience change your life?

PK:  It changed my life dramatically. Seeing myself on television was very exciting and completely changed my perspective.  My family and I sat in the livingroom and my dad said to me, “Son, I hope you’re getting paid for this!  You just put yourself out there on television for the world to see.”  I thought long and hard about what he said and decided from that moment I would use this opportunity to alter my life in a positive way.  I was a huge reason why "Pimps up Hoes down” was so successful, so I decided to create my own movies.  I went on to produce and star in several DVD’s and documentaries such as “Pimpology”, “Cross Country Pimpin”, “American Pimp” and “Best of Both Worlds”, which featured my brother Pimp C, God rest his soul, and these movies became cult classics.  

BSN:  These movies became cult classics, how did that boost your career?

PK:  Well, I became “the ambassador of pimpin”, if you will.  Saying that you knew Pimpin' Ken instantly raised your street credibility and many rappers would mention my name in their songs when referring to the pimp game.  Everyone wanted to be a part of the life...the flashy cars, big money and beautiful women.  It was a culture that was enticing to many.  Funny story, one night I was at Club 112 in Atlanta and I bought out the entire bar for 15 minutes, just 15 minutes.  The DJ announced it, “Pimpin Ken just bought the bar, drinks on him!”  Now everyone is making their way to the bar and saluting me for the drinks.  Jermaine Dupri happened to be there and he was the King of ATL at the time, so he was looking around like, “Who is this guy?” (Ken laughs) because I was getting so much attention.  We later introduced ourselves and conversated for a while.  He ended up inviting me to his studio and introducing me to his artists.  That led to me doing intros/outros on records for Pastor Troy and Outkast.  Once I did that, more entertainers reached out to me to do skits or intros/outros on their records.  Now I'm receiving millions of dollars in free advertising by appearing on these guys' albums.  Reebok, Coca-Cola or Nike would've had to pay for that type of promotion!  So you see, buying the bar was a very strategic move, it put me in a position of power.  It led to me meet Jermaine Dupri and record in his studio, then other entertainers began reaching out to me asking me to appear on their albums and host their mix-tapes.  To date I have appeared on 13 platinum selling albums!  I've worked with some of the greatest rappers of all times such as ICE T, Too Short, Dr. Dre, Jay Z and 50 Cent. 

BSN:  Impressive!  So that’s how you became known as the “Pimpin' Ken the Intro/Outro Man”.  Now how did you segue your career into book-writing?

PK:  I enjoyed recording skits and intro/outros but I knew the world needed hear what I had to say about life from a pimp's perspective.  We all manipulate each other to get what we want in some shape, form or fashion even as children.  It's a natural human instinct.  I was very interested in teaching the world about where I come from and how the pimp game can be applied to all walks of life.  For example, the only difference between a con-man and a stock-broker on Wall Street is, one cons people out of hundreds of dollars and one cons people out of millions of dollars.  Basically the oldest pimp game on Earth is the same as what builds nations: the control of money and people to achieve an objective.  You have to move with finesse, plan your moves strategically and never underestimate your opponent.  See, God blessed with me vision, so I can see 20 steps ahead and plan my moves accordingly.  That is why I chose to use my past life and experiences to show people that you can succeed in life if you make the right moves to put yourself in the right positions.  That's how "Pimpology: The 48 Laws of Power" came about.  I didn't even know I could write a book.  I sat down and began putting my thoughts on paper and surprised myself and everyone else! 

BSN:  Did you ever dream that “The 48 Laws of the Game” would be so successful?

PK:  I knew it was a good book but I didn't think it would make the New York Times best seller list.  After all it's a book called "Pimpology" (Ken laughs).  This is why I always dream big.  Just because you come from small beginnings doesn’t mean you can’t do big things.  I believed in myself and worked extremely hard to write that book.  I hustled hard to sell it and get it promoted too.  Man, I was selling the audio version of "48 Laws" out of the back of my car like a mix-tape!  I didn't have a major company at the time, I had to do it myself.   

BSN:  What inspired you to write a second book, “The Art of Human Chess...A Study Guide to Winning”?

PK:  The success of "48 Laws" was definitely a motivator.  But what motivated me even more was seeing the state our young black people are in today.  They’re growing up in single-parent homes, no father or father-figures in the home, gang-banging, pimping, using drugs…that’s not cool and it truly bothers me.  I have children of my own and I couldn’t see them running the streets.  Thankfully they’re all doing well, going to school and being productive.  I was a young black man living that street life and pimping for years, so I can totally identify with them.  The game never changes, only the players.  They can't see it now, but that lifestyle only leads to serving time in prison.  And they are building new ones every day making room for more our youth.  I am guilty of glamorizing the "pimp life", but I am older and wiser now.  I no longer want young men looking up to me for being a pimp or following in those footsteps. I want to help raise these misguided young men and women through my literature.  I give them the positive knowledge, but I do it in a clever way, a way that doesn’t make them feel like they’re being chastised or looked down on.  And it's coming from a person they respect who has lived that life already.  I actually have an entire chapter in “The Art of Human Chess” devoted to the youth and the issues they are dealing with.  Such as how they have become pawns in the game of the criminal justice system and how the war on drugs and human trafficking was created to bait young African Americans into a life of crime that ultimately leads to incarceration.  It's real deep man.  To many of these young men and women who read my books I am that father, that uncle, that big brother or sister they never had to teach them how to survive in this world.  I remind them that they can believe, conceive and achieve anything in life if they focus and make the proper moves.

BSN:  Wow! You totally transformed yourself, Is this the same Pimpin Ken from “Pimps up, Hoes down”?

PK:  Absolutely not.  I have evolved into “Pimp PEN Ken”, an author and former pimp.  I now use my game and my pen to drop knowledge and jewels of wisdom to uplift others, not bring them down.  I denounce “Pimps up, Hoes down”.  My glamorization of the streets influenced a lot of young people to be a part of a negative lifestyle and that’s not a good feeling man.  I want to encourage them to put the guns and the drugs down, stop pimping and gang banging on each other.  I want to teach them how to maneuver and manipulate in this cold world the RIGHT way.  Those who know don’t tell, and those who tell don’t know.  I don’t have a degree from Harvard but I am highly qualified to speak on these pertinent issues based on my life experiences.  It is my way of giving back to society.  There are so many secrets in "The Art of Human Chess...A Study Guide to Winning".  I pray that it will change lives.   

BSN:  This book sounds like a must-read, you may have another New York Times best seller on your hands! 

PK:  Please believe it is!  People from all walks of life can learn from my books.  The college student, the youngster gang-banging in the streets and the white collar businessman will all come away more enlightened after they read it.  It gives me great pleasure to spread my knowledge and share what I've learned in life thus far.  Even those who don’t like my philosophy or the fact that I was a pimp, will agree in theory by the end of the book.  My past does not define my future.  I don’t want to be remembered as a great pimp, I want to be remembered as a great man who used his natural ability to influence others in a positive way. 

BSN:  That is amazing Ken and we thank you for sharing your story with the world.  We wish you the best of luck, you will open so many eyes and minds with this powerful book!

 “The Art of Human Chess…A Study Guide to Winning”

Available for purchase at, and the iBook Store App

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