In essence, SUPERDUPERKYLE (or just KYLE for short) is all your favorite new-school rappers rolled into one. He’s got the sensitivity of Drake, the playfulness of Tyler, the Creator, and the laid-back flow of Chance the Rapper. The end result? An exuberant bubblegum, pop-infused trap in the vein of Lil Yachty.
And if you’ve already listened to the rapper’s debut album, Light of Mine—he’s just as light-hearted in person as he is on his bouncy, positive-driven tracks. Here’s the low-down on KYLE.
His beginnings weren’t super-duper
Since breaking out onto the scene in 2016 with his lively Lil Yachty-assisted track “iSpy,” KYLE’s pretty much fronted the ‘happy rap’ genre. Embodying the “good vibes only” mantra, the rapper—real name: Kyle Harvey—easily stood out among his peers like Lil Uzi Vert and Trippie Redd. But despite his efforts to uplift his fans, the Cali native hadn’t always radiated cheery energy.
Behind his crooked smile, the rapper was a victim of bullying growing up. Kids used to tease him for his speech impediment and snaggletooth, and at 16, the loss of his grandfather caused him to spiral into depression.
Naturally, it was music—specifically Kid Cudi’s—that pulled him out of a dark place. “[Kid Cudi] was the first person I could relate to that was hurt. [He] has saved lives. He saved my life,” the rapper told Rolling Stone in 2017. On his song “Ups & Downs,” he even shouted out Cudder on a verse, “When I need somebody to lean on / I put that Cudi CD on.”
It’s KYLE’s personal struggle with mental health that inspired him to create positive music for others. Just like how Cudi changed his life, the rapper also wants to be there for anyone who felt as lonely as he once did.
He’s an all-around social activist
Apart from being vocal about mental health, KYLE also considers himself a strong ally of the LGBT community. Due to his diverse upbringing—he was born to a white mother and black father—the biracial rapper had always felt that accepting others for their differences is second nature to him. He even applauds friends like Kevin Abstract of Brockhampton and Kehlani for opening up about their sexuality through their music. He described these moments to Gay Times UK as “really liberating to a lot of rap fans who also happen to be gay.”
The 25-year-old also wants to abolish the idea of hyper-masculinity in the hip hop world, encouraging more male rappers to feel comfortable about showing off their feminine side. “[That] needs to change big time,” he continued. “It’s definitely a culture thing, having to act so ‘hard’ or masculine.”
Ol’ Dirty Bastard introduced him to hip hop
Like most kids, KYLE grew up listening to whatever music he’d heard on the radio. It wasn’t until he turned ten that he first discovered rap—and he owes it all to Ol’ Dirty Bastard. While visiting his father’s place one weekend (his parents had divorced when he was a child), he stumbled across ODB’s 1999 hit “Got Your Money.” And it was love from the get-go.
“You know, my mom’s white so all I really listened to was K-Rock […] So between Dean Martin and Weezer, I had no idea what hip hop sounded like,” he confessed to Wonderland magazine. Later on, his father brought him to recording studios in Hollywood where the future hip hop head learned how to lay down verses.
Anime inspired his life and music
From Dragon Ball Z to Akira to Yu Yu Hakusho—whatever anime it is, KYLE has probably already seen it. A self-proclaimed otaku, the rapper had always felt a greater connection towards the storylines on anime as compared to those on American cartoons. He also notes that the scores on anime shows are undoubtedly way cooler. Just listen to Light of Mine’s “Ikuyo” and “Feels Good” from his 2015 mixtape, Smyle—you’ll hear Japanese lyrics and a few city pop influences.
He’ll probably earn an Oscar or Tony award someday
Just like Ludacris, Childish Gambino and TI, KYLE doesn’t just rap and write his own rhymes—he acts, too. Landing his first-ever leading role in a film, the rapper is expected to make his motion picture debut in Netflix’s coming-of-age original, The After Party, which is set for release in late 2018. The movie also stars other big hip hop names, including Wiz Khalifa, French Montana and Teyana Taylor.
But KYLE’s dip into acting wasn’t just a whim of the moment. It had always been part of his dream. In high school, the rapper was a member of his school’s drama club. “I love theater, that’s a passion of mine. I like Broadway, I’ve written a couple of plays and sh*t before, so I really like that,” he told NME. “I want to get better [at acting], I want to do more movies, I want to play different roles, all that.”
Watch out, Luda and Cheezy, because King Wavy is coming for the throne.