Recently caught up with architect, tech innovator, and overall creative artist Iddris Sandu who’s not only collaborating with artists of the culture to create unique experiences, but who is focused on digitally improving spaces within the culture that wont compromise who he is. In our interview, Iddris and I talk how he developed his love and skill for coding, how he met Nipsey Hussle, doing work for Kanye and Jaden Smith, being highlighted by Beyonce for Black History Month, the need for ownership, favorite rappers, his future plans, and more. Tune into our ranging and insightful conversation right now, below:
EB: Hi Iddris, hope you’re doing great today! We’ll go ahead and jump into it. How did a kid from Compton fall in love with coding ?
Iddris : I guess I could say my story starts at around the age of 11. I began to go to the library and was enamored of these programming books on programming after watching Steve Jobs unveil the first iPhone. I knew that I wanted to change the world I just didn’t know where to start that was until I started getting hip to programming (coding)
EB: So what exactly led you to coding for social media platforms like Snapchat, Twitter, & Instagram?
Iddris: My approach when developing has always been to make things accessible to the masses.Consumers being able to be the developers and the developers being able to create for the consumers on a large-scale meant that the solutions I had to micro-problems could be easily accessed. I wanted to make things like social media and user interactivity easier and accessible for everyone and that’s why I consulted for companies like snapchat twitter and Instagram. Companies that had created innovative services, but needed assistance with diversifying and making it accessible to the masses.
EB: So a lot of people may not know this but you’re self taught when it comes to coding and consulting for other tech companies and artists. What’s been the most important resource you’ve utilized while unfolding your craft ?
Iddris: I think for me ,the most important thing has always been understanding that I always needed to be authentically myself.The moment that you walk into a meeting and you reveal someone who is not you , you automatically compromise your image. I have always remained authentic and never sacrificed any parts of myself. I feel like people look at what I’ve done, but they don’t understand I’ve been able to do it because I’ve always been authentic at the root. I never looked at being the only black person or the only person of color as a negative trait, if anything it gave me a leverage because I had something that no one else has
EB: That’s definitely a unique way of looking at it but speaking of being authentic …you created the app for the first smart store in the world through Nipsey Hussle’s Marathon clothing store and you literally met him at Starbucks three weeks prior to this happening. Looking back it now, do you think it was fate ?
Iddris: It was absolutely the universe on our hands. It understood what needed to happen and it understood the paradigm shift that we would influence and that’s what brought us together , it was not by chance. It was what was needed by the universe to enforce the next generation of leaders of thinkers that would come from similar backgrounds as Nipsey and myself.
EB: Now, from you working with him to collaborating with Kanye and Jaden Smith , it’s clear that you are trying to touch the culture through figures that think outside of the box to ultimately design visions that the culture can be apart of and interact with. In what way are you hoping to inspire and encourage the generation that we’re apart of?
Iddris: A lot of things I do are based on the law of unconventional collaboration. You know like people will ask “why is an architect that’s built so many tech services for companies teaming up with a staple in the community?“These are the type of questions that I love to answer . I love it because you can only answer them through producing tangible results and then you showcase the product to answer that question and then people go “oh I get it”.
EB: So with you being an architect that’s bridging music with your ranging tech skill, what are some projects that you would like to design for the culture within the future?
Iddris: I don’t really want to give you like a vague answer haha — but a lot. I can’t even put a number on it or wrap the sentence around the scale at which want to create for the culture. But I want to get into sustainable furniture, City infrastructure, agriculture, and exposure (which is our new form of education)
EB: That’s really dope ! You’re literally operating within our generation, building and creating for the next which brings to me to another important point that’s more than noteable. Last month for Black History Month, THE Beyonce highlighted you in her black month appreciation post as someone who’s generating an impact and who is ultimately designing a greater space for us for the future. Now I have to ask ……How do you possibly process that kind of notoriety ?
Iddris: The reason why I have so many “celebrity“ friends is because I’ve never taken advantage of a relationship nor am I phased by a lot of the stuff. But I do appreciate and value it.But on the macro, we are in two different and separate lanes.That’s the beautiful part about being able to vibe create with people, and then go back to things you were working on.….. But I mean it’s Beyoncé though! So of course that meant a lot. Because now im like “ okay we on Jay’s (Jay-z ) radar too”
EB: I loved how you emphasize not changing up to compromise your image. You give a lot of similar game as well as additional perspective on the importance of ownership over renting in your Ted talk . In addition to that, Steve Stoute made a comment a little bit ago saying that there’s no reason that huge platforms like Twitter couldn’t have been black owned. What’s your take on that and where do you think the future of black owned tech companies is headed?
Iddris: I mean I feel like, I’m the youngest out here that’s pushing forward that message.When I talk about the infrastructure, its not just building apps and owning apps but it’s also controlling the whole operating system of where it’s housed.You know in a simplistic form, we should buy the houses, but we should also control the community.That’s how you reach true economic freedom. Vertical integration and vertical infrastructural development.
EB: I couldn’t agree more and those are some amazing points that I feel like we’re progressively realizing this and slowly (but surely) moving different from music to real-estate to us owning beauty supply stores and grocery stores. Since musical inclusion has been played a large role in your journey and on your line of architectural work thus far, I have to ask before we close out: Who are your favorite rappers dead or alive?
Iddris:Any true admire of hip hop knows that that’s a loaded question so I’ll do you a solid and give you only the ones that have created and influenced me that are breathing…. And are rappers. In that vein i will mention Lauryn Hill , Ye, Cudi, Nas, Jay, Beyonce, Andre 3000 , Yasiin Bey (mos def), Kendrick Lamar and Pac . I know I said only breathing but like….its PAC ( he breathes through me).