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OTHER: Ben Baller

Featured in Freestyle Volume 07 2009. Story by shockmansion.com. Photography by Jorge Peniche.

Ben Baller AKA K-Town, grew up in Los Angeles. His company I.F. & CO makes outstanding custom jewellery for a long list of A-list celebrity friends. One of Ben Baller’s most noted pieces of jewellery is a massive pendant based on the map of California worth over $800,000 USD. He was kind enough to set aside some time for us to ask him about jewels, making money and crazy rides! Take your shoes off at the door, welcome to the Mansion.

G'day mate, thanks for your time.
Shrimp on da Barbie! I don’t have a lotta time, so I’m a leave my shoes on, in fact, I’m so busy that I don’t even have time to leave an outgoing message on my cell phone voicemail!

Can you tell us about how I.F. & CO began, and what kept you inspired to get it where it is today?
My cousin Jeff and Steve and Joe had an idea to call the custom side of business ICEE FRESH, so I got involved around 2004 and eventually became full partner around 2005 when I realised that this was a career.

We started out with the Clipse as the first official Icee Fresh client. Recently we changed the name to I.F. and Co. for legal purposes due to a lame ass drink company we coulda sued, but I.F. and Co sounds classy and means Internally Flawless and Icee Fresh at the same time.

My motivation was money at first and building a brand name from the grass roots. Once I.F. became big and well known, it just gave me more motivation to make it bigger and larger.

So other than making some of the most expensive and wild iced out jewellery on the planet is there anything else you like to ice out? Cars, TVs shit like that?
I’m over all the gimmick shit, like icing out a fish tank or TV screen. If I wanted to do something outrageous, then it would need to be for a king or sultan and ice out his home’s entire ceiling, something in the billion dollar minimum range. But I like to keep it classy and usually Jonas is the dude for that job. He always comes with innovative ideas like creating his own chain links and icing out logo branded custom key chains, etc. When we iced out jeans, like actual denim for LRG that was cool – where the buttons go and shit.

I’m sure there are a few cats out there wondering how did you get the names Ben Baller and K–Town? And what do you prefer to be known as?
Ben Baller came from my assistant basketball coach in college. The term baller didn’t really come into play until the early 90’s outside playing ball. So it was originally from playing ball, not ballin on the streets. K-Town is a nickname I got from the streets, I was raised in Koreatown, Los Angeles. If you ain’t been to jail, slanged or served then you wouldn’t call me that in L.A. but my bike gang also refers to me as K-Town, it eventually became an internet name as well because I became famous in the shoe game as K-Town Hustler. I prefer those who know me call me what they know me as.

Jonas, co-founder of LRG, one of the sickest brands out, how’d you guys meet and would you say you guys are best friends? Cause f**k me that panda you did for him was off the hook..
I met Jonas briefly early on when LRG started and I never thought it’d be where we are today. We became brothers around 2005 and after we scratched the surface and figured out that each of us were geniuses in our own fields, we knew we were both very valuable to each other and the world take over started. A mutual friend Bee (Hot Air) introduced us a long time ago.

Living the life you live, tell us what goes on in the day in the life of Ben Baller?
I wish I had the time to really let loose on this question. Today? Honestly, I’m a lot more chill and mellow because of a new lady in my life. But usually it would entail waking up, reading emails, blogging about the previous day, getting in the gym, then cruising the streets of LA enroute to my store. Handling biz, meetings, networking with the fabulous and the infamous. That’s why I gotta have a fly whip cuz it’s my second office. I like taking the long route to work and an opposite way home. Night time usually would be me and my boys and some women at a bar/club and then...

OK INTERLUDE. So here’s a hypothetical for you. We are about to rob a liquor store, weapon of your choice of course haha, what can we grab for you while we are in there?
A box of magnum condoms and a bag of rubberbands so they fit. But you could get me some Patron and Sprite, Gatorade AM if they have it. I’m a simple dude.

Rumour has it that you’re a man with a passion for all kinds of sneakers. How many pairs of sneakers do you currently own? And do you have a favourite pair? Or do you have a style of shoe that you prefer to wear on the regular?
I used to be nuts with it. A few hundred pairs easy, then it got to almost 1,000 pairs, then I hit close to 1,800 pairs and it became beyond obsession and a serious problem. That was years ago. I might have like 60 pairs of shoes now.

I ONLY WEAR SUPRA’S. Once in a while, you’ll see me in some Vans, but Supra is who I embrace and support fully, they endorse me. The Vaiders are my shit!

KING OF BLING we love these episodes, for those that may not have cottoned on yet, tell us a bit about your show and where to watch it.
That was a joke, just some fun and something more like webisodes, my real TV show is called “ICEE FRESH” and it will be on the FUSE network. It will be about me and jewellery of course and my crazy lifestyle, but I can’t really get into more detail cuz we’re still shooting.

As all successful entrepeneurs should, you have a crazy collection of dope cars. Can you tell us a bit about your collection of rides? And also what would be your ultimate ride to own that you don’t already?
I’d like to one day own a Veyron just so I can set it on fire in front of a tonne of people and youtube it. Maybe make it rain inside the actual car with a billion dollars in $7 bills (at that point of wealth, anything would be possible.)
Right now, I own a 2007 Dodge SRT8 Charger, 2008 Audi R8 and a vicious 2008 BMW M5. All the whips have been done up crazy. Now go back to 2004 to 2006? Jesus. My whip game was VERY, VERY DISRESPECTFUL. Lambo’s, RR’s.

Being who you are and associating with who you do, what are your thoughts on the pro’s and con’s of fame?
F**k fame, I want the bread. You can’t creep anywhere with a girl, too many people recognise you, and they’re in your business. I have witnessed this on a small level myself, but also seen it second hand directly with peeps like Paris Hilton and nobody gets it worse then her when she’s on it. I mean when I wanna leave, I leave, I’ll run dudes over. I’ve been stalked before, shit’s not cool.

Pro’s? I mean, I don’t wait in lines. I get a lot of free shit. I’m over getting pussy from a random bird. I’m more focused on pleasing one woman at a time. The fame gets in the way sometimes and could bling the girl from knowing me and not Ben Baller. (I gotta be a centered dude when I come home).

Brain Damage is a word we have heard you use for some of your pieces, like this shit is brain damage. Tell us what kind of pieces freaks you out the most.
Now? Nothing really is crazy to me anymore. My biggest personal flaw is that I get tired/bored too fast.

You’ve made some pretty wild jewellery pieces. What would be the most outrageous thing you’d cover in diamonds and hang off a chain if money wasn’t a problem?
A fully functional gun in internally flawless D color diamonds and with the iced out IF/D color bullets to match.

You’ve done some crazy shit in your life so far, what’s a life lesson you learnt the hard way?
If you really respect someone as a mentor and see they are truly successful in life and business, listen and follow them when they try to guide you. There are a lot of dickheads out there who don’t want you to shine, but honestly, I learned BIG from my mistakes so I don’t think I’d be the same guy if I had not f**ked up so much early on in my life.

NEVER SPEND MORE THAN 25% OF YOUR NET PROFITS. When I got my first big check from Dr. Dre. He told me not to spend it all and that’s EXACTLY what I did. I copped a Rolex and an M3 and spent money everyday like a fool. I was broke after a little while and had to move from a lavish spot to having a room mate.

Ok we got another hypothetical for you. If you were kidnapped tomorrow, and locked up in some James Bond style bunker, who would you want to bust you out, and how? And let’s say its gotta be a chick, famous too.
My first answer would have to be my girlfriend, but if she had to be famous… Cassie without a doubt.

So what’s next for Ben Baller? Any future business ventures you can tell us about? And when the hell are you coming to Australia?
You have to follow my blog http://blog.ifandco.com to find out haha.

And I’m coming back to Sydney Australia when they figure out how to make the flight six hours long.

When was the last time you drove/rode well over the speed limit?
A couple weeks ago. I try to keep it under 160mph (257.5km/h) these days. If there wasn’t so much traffic I would be much more foolish. I wish they had a pay toll lane that was $100 for everytime you wanted to drive in a
no traffic lane. Shit I’d do that everyday.

Having money can always lead to some impulsive buys. Can you tell us what’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever spent money on?
$15,000 on bottles at a nightclub. Everyone I know who has bigtime money, not the bs money I got right now, hates themselves after they drop that kind of money in a club. I also bought a boat off the internet and when I actually saw it, it looked like the Gilligans island boat. Jesus.

Ok man well we got one more hypothetical for you before we close the mansion doors. If you could fill a swimming pool with anything in the world, and swim in it, what would it be and why? And who would you invite over to kick it with you?
I’d fill it with $5 bills and invite every ex-girlfriend I had (it’s a long list) and set the pool on fire. I’d invite Jonas to video tape me jumping out while I was pouring the gasoline!

Dope one man, is there any shout outs you wanna get done?
Danielle, Jonas Bevacqua, I.F. & Co., LRG, Supra footwear, DJ Homicide, DJ AM, AMC, my cousins Steve, Jeff, Joe and James. Ahmad, Karim and everyone at Platinum Motorsport. Oh can’t forget my mentor Mister Cartoon… SA Studios, my boy Estevan and my homey’s in Houston. R.I.P. Che’ and Lil Chris, Nie Kymo, Allon, Pete. Shout out to Cocky Ridaz.

Mr. King of Bling it was a pleasure cheers dude, thanks for setting the time aside for us, all the best!
God bless.

To find out more about Ben Baller, visit http://blog.ifandco.com

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