meet kyle, the super positive rapper spreading good vibes from la
Kyle says keep your head up, appreciate what you've got, and explains why sailing is rubbish, even if Lil Yachty is great.
Ever since James Brown spat about staying in school (Don't Be a Dropout), finding a job (You Got To Have A Job (If You Don't Work You Can't Eat)) and putting bread on the table (If You Don't Give a Doggone about it), rap has always found a place for positivity. You can hear it in the music of RUN DMC, of De La Soul, of Jurassic 5, of Common. You can hear it in 2Pac's Keep Ya Head Up, later referenced by the not exactly positivity-shy Kendrick Lamar (case in point: the uplifting, Isley Brothers sampling i). Hell, you can really hear it in the music of Will Smith, a man who took to the stage at the 1998 Grammys to talk about the responsibility rappers have "for the impressionable ears that are listening to the music that we make".
It's a lineage that continues today with California-native, Kyle. Currently enjoying a wave of attention following the unexpected viral success of his single, iSpy -- an unfeasibly catchy ode to Instagram cuties that has racked up over 30 million YouTube views in a month -- Kyle sits alongside Chance the Rapper, D.R.A.M. and iSpy collaborator, Lil Yachty, as one of a number of artists spreading positivity during these difficult times. Inspired by all that -- as well as his occasional nickname, SuperDuperKyle -- we gave him a call to see just what it is that makes him tick.
Hello Kyle and congratulation on the success of iSpy! If you were a spy, what would your "thing" be? Knightrider has a talking car. The Six Million Dollar Man has superhuman strength. What would you have?
If I was a spy, I would have a watch that would cloak me in invisibility. It would be like, damn -- you can't even see me. So what I would do, I would go hide out in a room somewhere and then I would hit the watch and just soak it up all day, you know what I mean? I could be in meetings for international leaders and shit. With a Hot Pocket in the corner! Because the watch would cover the Hot Pocket too. I could eat a Hot Pocket just voice recording what everybody's saying.
What does it feel like to have an international superhit?
Man, it feels definitely awesome. It feels unexpected. I don't think anyone expects that, unless you're one of the huge artists. It was a little bit out of the blue like, "Woah, what happened here?".
Have you been doing the whole pretend humble thing about it or have you been dropping it into conversation with your friends?
Oh, I've been humble about it. Because it has nothing to do with me! I can't explain it so I can't really brag about it, you know what I mean? I don't know why it got so big! That's about as much as I can drop into conversation.
Does it change what you're going to do next at all?
Nah. My main focus is always trying to really be myself and talk about the real things in my life. I don't think it's changed the way I plan on making music. I wanna make music that helps people. That's still the goal. So even if it's a hit, it still has to have some type of value in it for me.
How important do you think it is to be making music that helps people in these relatively dark politically times?
It's one of the most important reasons that we have music. Music fills peoples with life. It doesn't have to be a "happy song". If you have that one song that relates to you, whether it's a sad song or a gangster song, whatever relates to you the most in that moment, it can literally get you through the day. You can't go on Twitter without seeing some sort of wild, negative stuff happening. It's more important than ever to have some positive leaders out there.
How do you stay so positive?
You know what I tell people? I always tell people, it's not about just being positive. Because that shit is impossible. It's not about being happy every single day. Because it doesn't happen, you know what I mean? You're going to have really bad days. You're going to have some days that really suck. You're going to have some days where you're not happy at all, where you feel like shit. But the most most important factor is fighting to be happy everyday. It's not about being happy. It's about trying. So don't stop trying, that's what I tell people. Let's say, for instance, right now is the worst day of my life. I would still notice… Erm… These really cool pillows over here. They're cool. They feel all fluffy. I appreciate them. So in that moment, I have something to appreciate.
Come on though, Kyle. Something must annoy you.
What annoys me? Erm… People who are too drunk. That have had too much to drink. Erm… I'm also kind of a germophobe.
You're scared of Germans?
You're a Germanphobe.
No! I'm a germophobe. I'm not scared of Germans. I'm pretty sure I am German. I'm pretty sure someone on my white side was definitely German.
We'd like to play a game with you, if you don't mind? We have a list of things and we'd love you to tell us if you think those things are "super" or "duper". For the benefit of this laboured piece of content, "super" is good and "duper" is bad.
But duper isn't bad.
We know it isn't, Kyle, but just for the purpose of this otherwise the game isn't going to work.
Okay, that's true. What if something could be "superduper" and something could be "superpooper"?
Now you're talking. Okay, the first one is, "golf".
You know what I've never played so I'm going to go ahead and give it the benefit of the doubt and say golf is superduper.
The small fish.
Oh, those are superpooper for sure. I've never even had them and I know.
Those are superduper for sure!
Do you have a favourite?
I do have a favourite video game. It's The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. It's from a long time ago though. That was on the original X-Box.
Ghosts are definitely superpooper. They're scary. They're always creeping up on you. You never know when they're there. Ghosts never just come out like, "Hey, what's up? By the way, I haunt this place". Why have they always got to be incognito about this shit?
Superduper. I once watched this crazy trick where there were two circle magnets that were opposites and they put one of them through a pencil. Then they put the opposite one through the pencil and it was literally just floating. It was crazy.
Erm… They've gotta be superduper too. Even though I hate equations, some very smart guy, someone right now, is using an equation to solve a lot of very serious issues. So they've gotta be superduper.
Instagram… It depends on how you use it. If you use it for good it's superduper. If you use it for bad it's superpooper.
Bacon is superduper and forever will be.
I'm not going to lie, I hate fishing. I've never liked fishing. So I'm gonna say superpooper. Everytime I'm on a boat, it's cool and all, but I kind of want to be on land.
What would Yachty make of that?
Well, the difference is Yachty likes sailing. If we were on a boat I would just tell him, "Man, I had to go fishing growing up and I hate fishing". I'll say this -- "I'm not a fan of fishing but I am a fan of Lil Yachty".
Last one, Kyle. "The moon". It is the moon superduper or superpooper?
The moon is definitely superduper. The moon is the only indicator that, wow, things are larger than life out here.
You're not wrong. Thanks, Kyle!
Text Matthew Whitehouse
Photography Jimmy Fontaine