For Rapper KYLE, Phoenix Is a Second Home

KYLE has deep roots in Phoenix.
KYLE has deep roots in Phoenix. Atlantic Records
After gaining success with the hit song "ISpy” and earning a spot on in the 2017 XXL Freshman Class, KYLE, a.k.a. SuperDuperKyle, has been growing in fame. He's also been growing as an artist: In May he released his album Light of Mine, which leaves behind the optimistic, happy sound he's known for and enters more somber territory.

Ahead of KYLE's show tonight at Club Red, Phoenix New Times spoke with the rapper about his album, his inspirations, and other projects he’s working on.

How was the process of making your new album?
It was like a journal. I was waking up everyday and really trying to get something out of myself. I really didn't want to make songs about the external, what people already knew. I wanted to make songs about things I was afraid to tell other people, and I wanted to put it into songs and make a project that showed somebody another human opening up and being comfortable with admitting my flaws. Being comfortable admitting my weaknesses and being comfortable admitting the things that I was struggling with. That way, I can show other kids out there that it’s okay to be comfortable admitting that you’re not okay. My music and my vibe is still overall very optimistic and very happy. If this was the last album ever I got to make, I wanted to show kids how I got there. I want to show them how I maintained this optimistic outlook – it’s by being vulnerable. I wanted to give them not more of an external thing about "Hey, look at me I’m always in a good mood," but like "Look at me, I’m in a good mood because I fight for it every single day, and this is how you can overcome your challenges in your life too."

Can you tell me why Kid Cudi inspires you?
He inspires me because a lot of what I was talking about now is that as kids that love artists, we look for people to relate to, and we look for people out there who feel how we feel inside. I think the big issue with a lot of people at the time that I grew up with hip-hop, we had that golden-era hip-hop that we kind of just missed and there was a lot of … I never really had an artist that was okay being vulnerable. I never really knew about artists that are okay with taking their issues and turning them into something magic, and that is something that I got to see from Kid Cudi. I got to see an individual that I respected, that I liked, that I thought was cool, and I got to see him open up and talk about hardships, and it made me feel like I was normal. Because before I didn’t feel normal or okay with expressing those things. I didn’t feel okay with crying or talking about losing people that I loved. Those are all things I kept out of my music because it was not tight for rappers to be all emotional, and not just emotional, but like, with real self issues, and Kid Cudi gave me that, and he gave me a sense of safety. I’ll forever love Kid Cudi for being an artist that taught me it’s okay to not be okay.

Have you worked on him with music or are you planning to?
I mean shit, I try every album. Believe me, every album I got two or three Kid Cudi songs in mind. When that day will happen, I don’t necessarily know, but then again, I’m being honest when I say I’m just a fan. I am a true fan. Regardless if I ever work with Kid Cudi, I will always continue to support him and support his music and always wait for what’s coming next.

Another thing I like about Kid Cudi is that he takes risks. He’s not going to serve you up the same cheat codes that he knows he could do. Like, if I wanted to make "iSpy" every single time I could, but that’s not necessarily what I make music for. I’m making music to discover new shit about myself for what I like. I’m not making music to in order to give you what I know you want every single time.

Was Ginuwine also an influence on this album?
Of course he was – are you kidding me, bro? That’s like the sexiest song I’ve ever made [“It’s Yours”]. How would I ever know how to do that without Ginuwine? The only reason I shouted him out was because this song “It’s Yours" is about me getting "buns" for the first time ever and I had to basically shout out all the people that had got me to that place and Ginuwine was what was playing that day I finally did do the "do" for the first time, so I had to give him a shout-out.

How was your trip to Japan and making “Ikuyo”? Did you make that song in Japan?
First, my trip to Japan was fucking epic. It was the best use of money I’ve ever used in my life. That’s what “ShipTrip” is about, it’s about me escaping to Japan because I need to get away from the world. I didn't make “Ikuyo” In Japan, I made it in L.A. My homegirl Sophia is Japanese and speaks Japanese, and I wanted to make a Japanese anthem with her, so I asked her "How do you say something turnt up in Japanese?" So Ikuyo means "Let's go!"

How did you get 2 Chainz on the track? Did you hit him up?
We did hit up Mr. Chainz. What happened was one night, I’m in the club in L.A. – and I don't go to the club all the time, I go the club about medium amounts. So I’m in the club I’m thinking, "This shit is debaucherous. You got people throwing up everywhere, this is disgusting! This sucks!" And then I notice this one individual, so poised, so elegant, and holding himself with so much class in the club. Looking like he’s done this before. I’m like, "Oh fuck, that’s 2 Chainz over there." Then from that moment, I knew I needed him on the track. Because I like making shit go together that shouldn't go together. It’s like a hobby of mine, doing something that people say "That would be dope." So I thought I need to make a Japanese trap banger with a little cute Japanese voice and get a hood ass rapper to get on it, and I’m like, "That’s the person that needs to be a part of this." Then we hit his people and the rest was history.

What do you like about the Phoenix crowd?
Phoenix is kind of like my second home, to be real with you. I’ve been up in Phoenix for a long time. I used to go by the rap name K.I.D., and my homie Jacob Owens who shot all my music videos was from Phoenix, so I would be in Phoenix all the time kicking it with the people. I know Futuristic really well, and me and him have been friends for mad years. It’s the first place outside of L.A. that I’ve ever been able to do shows and have meet and greets and have actual fans. It all started in Phoenix. I love it, there it’s literally like, I have deep Phoenix ties. I have a lot of memories of being 17, 18 trying to get my rap career started and the only other place I could go to was Phoenix.

KYLE. With Mark E. Bassy. 8 p.m. Wednesday, November 14, at Club Red, 1306 West University Drive, Mesa; 480-200-7529; clubredrocks.com. Tickets are $28 to $32 via Ticketfly.
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