KYLE claims his own path in keeping it real
Words: Adria Bani / August 13, 2013
This past week marked the first album release for KYLE (formerly K.i.D.), a young rapper and singer from Ventura, California. KYLE wants to maintain his presence in the Southern California beach town to put it on the hip-hop map, but what exactly will he make Ventura known for? His flow has structure, complexity and creativity, but his playful voice puts him in danger of crossing over from unique to misunderstood, as his noticeable inflections of valleyspeak nested in standard hip-hop street talk create a striking contrast. But a stellar production (from Beni Haze, Carnage, Bedrock, Dave Cappa and more) makes the overall sound of each track candy for the ears.
On first listen, KYLE sounds reminiscent of one of hip-hop’s current superstars, which he addresses on “I Keep it Real”, the first single off of his new album: “People say I sound like Drake / I don’t.” Actually, KYLE admitted to getting his start by copying Drake in an interview with a high school paper last year, though he says he has moved on to his own sound. But like Drake, KYLE has created a pop-oriented album, with major strong points in its love songs and very catchy hooks. Despite weaving his verses thick with conventional hip-hop braggadocio, KYLE opens up meekly on his intro monologue about being a teenager who spends more time writing plays than pounding beers. He calls himself a “loser who gets to live his dreams” and a “video game dude,” and several places in the album reference gaming, including the ode to Nintendo, “Sex & Super Smash Brothers”. When asked about the song, he told us, “Gaming has been a part of my life ever since I was a little kid…I think it’s influenced me as a person and made me really imaginative and creative…if I’m not rapping or singing, I’m playing video games.” His love for play comes through in the light-hearted tone of the album.
Just as Drake has made a name for Toronto, so might KYLE carve out a niche for Ventura. But he’s entering complex territory, creating rap music in a mostly white middle class surfer town, and he seems youthfully untouched by the reception he might receive. Or perhaps he doesn’t care at all. “The biggest message I want to communicate with my music is non-conformity,” says KYLE when we asked him about this. “Some people who have fears force other people into acting like them. I’ve seen so many kids I grew up with change who they are and change their ways because of conformity and peer pressure… I like rap. I’m a Black kid and I live in a beach city, so I’m like a Black rapping surfer. I don’t think there’s been a rapper like that before. Someone who is completely happy with themselves doesn’t need to make fun of anybody to make them conform.”
His new albumBeautiful Loseris out now.