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Rapper Kyle is, frankly, more than just a rapper. A cursory tour of the 21-year-old’s wildly eclectic confections invokes touchstones of dance, pop, R&B, hip-hop and a cavalry of other genres, making for a broad sonic palette that defines him as one of the most compelling MCs on the rise.
“My potential as an artist is to blend all genres of music, which is something that’s just universal, that everyone on earth is going to appreciate,” says Kyle, who originally hails from Ventura, Calif. and is currently based in Los Angeles. “I feel like that’s what I’m capable of as an artist—is making a song that everyone in every genre can love.”
His versatility shines on his upcoming sophomore album, which primarily features production from M-Phazes (Eminem, Kimbra) and Sunny Norway (Bun B, Juicy J) as well as guest appearances from artists including Chance the Rapper and Yuna.
Eclecticism is a consistent theme in Kyle Harvey’s life. As a kid, he was raised on a diverse collection of artists, from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to Incubus and Weezer. But it was when he discovered hip-hop when he hit double digits that he realized his true calling, gravitating towards likeminded genre-benders like Kid CuDi and studying East Coast rappers including Jadakiss, Big L and Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
Their influence is evident on songs like recent single “Don’t Want to Fall in Love,” where he opens up about a cracked relationship over a electro-zapped pop-rap beat. The humility on the track, coupled with his jocular flow and whip-smart rhymes, serves as a testament to his mission as an artist to have his audience identify with his experiences. “Throughout my career, I just want to peel back more and more layers of who I am, and get deeper and more connected with people and tell more relatable stories,” he says. It’s that honesty, coupled with his trademark buoyant personality, that distinguishes him in the hip-hop arena and drives his authentic message to be yourself, whether you’re fun or charismatic—both traits that exemplify who he is. “That’s how you relate deeper: by further exposing yourself.”
Kyle, who initially went by the name K.i.D., spent his teen years refined his skills as an MC, turning to the Internet to upload covers and originals to YouTube and spread his music through social media networks. After releasing Beautiful Loser via current label Indie-Pop in August 2013, his career took flight. The video for “Keep It Real” got nearly 700,000 YouTube hits in its first week, while the mixtape, whose songs generated millions of listens on Soundcloud, got press from The New York Times, Complex and BET‘s 106 & Park. Single “Fruit Snacks” won over fans likeJaden Smith and Childish Gambino, who used the track in his short film Clapping for the Wrong Reasons, and landed him shows with Chance the Rapper and G-Eazy prior to a headlining tour earlier this year.
With his sophomore album set for release later this year, Kyle is readying a project that will show just how capable he is of breaking the limits on what rap can be. “I want to be an artist who can get my music out to the world and have it be interesting,” he says. “I want to express my music on the highest platform in the world—and spread my message as far as possible.”