For many ‘iSpy’ was a sneak attack.
The tongue-in-cheek hit by Californian rapper KYLEand hip-hop’s man of the moment Lil Yachty, seemingly exploded out of nowhere and took many by surprise when it found its way into the Billboard Top Ten.
The song, about getting girls that don’t rack up Instagram likes, was originally released in December last year and crept up the charts over a period of five months. By mid-January it had debuted at No. 80 on the Hot 100, and peaked at No. 4 in April. Prior to that KYLE’s name had never found its way into the Top 20, and he had now RIAA certifications to his name.
Despite appearances, it was a long time coming; KYLE is playing a long game, and has been grinding for years to achieve his recent success. Since writing his first rap aged 13, the 24-year-old has been building his fanbase since 2013 with a pair of mixtapes, ‘Beautiful Loser’ and Smyle’, as well as collaborations with the likes of Chance The Rapper, Kehlani and G-Eazy.
In a guest verse on The Social Experiment’s ‘Wanna Be Cool’ in 2015 he asked: “So why don't you just be the you that you know you are, You know, when nobody else is there?” And has continued to demonstrate self-confidence and authenticity by his own example.
KYLE rides against many archetypal hip-hop ideals; the subject matter in his lyrics has more in common with the bands he’d hear when his mother turned the dial to K-Rock, than it does the rap music that his father would play him. He promotes himself as “anti-cool”, and is comfortable in his own skin without having to exude braggadocio and take himself too seriously.
Whether or not he’d ever had a Billboard hit, KYLE would have made his mark. It’s all about endurance…
How would you describe the kind of last couple of years since you put out your last mixtape ‘Smyle'?
They were good. They had ups, and they had downs. They had really awesome wins and they had, some really devastating losses. You know, it was normal life. That's what kind of felt the best about it. I don't know if I'm going to be able to get that back.
But it was dope. It was exciting. We put so much work into ‘Smyle' it's almost like we expected to pop off off of that album. We put it out, and then for those two years we had to go do like a lot of grinding. But the whole time was like very memorable to me. That ‘King Wavy’ [US headline] tour was probably like the funnest time of my life.
I first heard you on the Social Experiment’s song ‘Wanna Be Cool’ and your verse really stood out. But from that even to ‘iSpy’ there’s this theme of poking fun at social media that you revisit. Why do you think it’s important to address that?
It's just like such an easy place to use sight of what is good about you. I can't even imagine what it's like now, being like a middle schooler trying to look good on fucking Instagram where you got all these people that are being manufactured. Literally like plastic manufactured, like out a fucking assembly line. You've got all these people who portray this image of perfect that, you have like little guys and little girls trying to be like these people on social media that invest all their money, time and effort into looking good. It's like an easy place to lose sight of what makes you dope about being you.
It's so important for kids to be proud of just what they're given naturally. And be proud of the way God made them and the gifts that God has given them. If they lose sight of that, then we're just going to have a bunch of people, trying to be like a bunch of people, who are trying to be like a bunch of other people, and it's just going to get weird. Everybody's gonna have fake everything. They even have fake six-packs now, it's crazy. You can go purchase a six-pack. I just think the Internet is just shady.Read on via Clash Magazine...