ACHROMATIC Creative Direction & Styling: Crista Repo // @crista_repo Photography: Shaun James Cox // @shaunjamescox …
PAUSE Meets: Super Duper Kyle
Artist: Super Duper Kyle // @SuperDuperKyle
How did you come up with the name “Super Duper Kyle”?
Man, you know what? My mom is extra Caucasian, right. So, she be saying things like, “Okeydokey, okeydokey pokey” – okeydokey artichokey, if she’s really feeling it, and “super duper was one of those things I kind of heard a lot, too. But I never said it in rap songs, but then I heard Big Sean do Supa Dupa Lemonade, and when he was using that word, Big Sean’s vocabulary was kind of different from the average rapper. So when I heard that used in there, it kind of gave me this newfound confidence to just use the voice I actually had, and say the things I’d actually said. Like “okeydokey” or “super duper”, in a song. And then when I did that song – I did Lemonade, too – when I remixed that song, it was the first time I felt completely natural on a song. Because I was like, “I’m not going to rap in my rapper voice. I’m going to rap with my normal ass voice.” And, when I did that, it was like the best shit I’ve ever made. And then from that point forward, I was just like, “Damn. I kinda like being Super Duper Kyle”. You know what I mean? And it already went with like, the thing that I was trying to portray myself as.
What are you trying to portray yourself as?
Just this person that’s there for you in his music, you know what I mean? Because when I was in high school, my favourite artist was Kid Cudi. And every time I would feel sad or anytime I was going through some shit, he wasn’t just making music about bitches in the club, because that shit doesn’t help you. That shit is only fun when you’re feeling good. When you’re feeling good, you want to go party, you want to hear about some bitches in the club. That’s what you want to listen to. But, when you’re down and you’re out, you don’t want to listen to that. And I didn’t have any other artists that were doing that for me. But Kid Cudi did do that for me. And, it inspired me to make sure that in my music, I’m there for people the same way he was there for me. So I’m just like a superhero that comes and saves your day and picks you up from having a shitty day, and lets you have a fucking awesome, incredible day. I’m just trying to bring people up. And so I felt like I had a duty to, almost, save kids in a sense. And so now it’s like, “Super Duper Kyle, here to save your day”.
Tell me about your musical upbringing, when did this all begin and how?
When I was a little ass kid – ever since I can remember I’ve been singing. Like, singing and writing songs in my grandma’s backyard. And, when I was a little kid, I didn’t even know what rap was. I never listened to rap music. I didn’t have anybody that listened to rap – because when I was a little kid, I didn’t have the Internet, I didn’t have a computer, there was no YouTube. So I couldn’t go look up what I wanted to listen to. There was only the radio – radio and CDs. And I lived with my mom, and all she listened to was K-rock, which is like nineties rock music, you feel me? And then my grandparents, all they listened to was like, crooner shit. Which is like, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Frankie Laine. Shit like that. So, that’s all I could listen to, was crooner music and rock music. So I didn’t really know what rap music was because I didn’t really kick it with my Dad like that. But then, when I started kicking it with my Dad more, that’s when I started listening to rap music. And I heard ODB Got Your Money for the first time, and my mind was fucking blown.
How did you take that in?
Bruh. How do you take that in? The first time you hear a rap song it’s that one? I just remember this weird sense of almost being infected with something. You know when you get sick and you feel something like, “Oh, something’s changing”? It was like, I was listening to that song and *hums melody*. I was just like… “Oh my fucking god. What is happening right now.” And my Dad was hella mad, he pulled the car over and was like “What?” And I was like, “Dad I’ve never heard something like this before. And he said “What do you mean?” I was like “What is this?” And he said, “This is rap.” I was like “What does that mean?” He’s like, “NO! They gentrified my child!”
How old were you?
I was like, ten. Ten or eleven. So yeah. It was weird. All I listened to was rock music growing up. Weezer and Nirvana. That was like, literally my only shit.
Okay, so growing up in that era, which rap artist were you inspired by?
The first rap artist – well, I need to clarify a little bit. Rap music was like, in the air. I’d heard it because we were living in L.A. and you can’t escape Snoop Dogg or Dr. Dre because that shit was around. But I never listened to it, you know what I’m saying? I’d hear it driving by in a car. But I never went over to my friend’s house and got to hear the lyrics. The first rap artist that really started inspiring me was like, Jadakiss and Weezer, which is so weird because it’s such a jump from fucking like, Weezer to Jadakiss. Like, I remember – because I’d always written poetry though. I had written songs since I was six I was always written songs. Like rock inspired songs or like, Brian McKnight, I used to listen to like, R&B shit. But then when I started listening to rap, I started really wanting to listen to rappers because I was always like over poetic. That west-coast shit was more about swag you know what I’m saying? So I started getting into a bunch of people like Big L or like Nas or like Pete Rock.
I collected mixtapes. I had the Styles P mixtape and – what was that mixtape called? Can’t remember but it was fire. He’s a member of D-Block, so Jadakiss’s crew was called “D-Block”. And it was Jadakiss as the leader, and you know, Styles P, who’s like the more authentically hood one. Like, Jadakiss is hood but Styles P is like, HOOD. And then there was Sheek Louch who was kind of the third guy, but he was hard though. Yeah, they were like, from the nineties. But I started listening to them in the 2000s.
So you was a big fan of Jadakiss?
That was like, my first favourite rapper. And then from there, I basically listened to rap heavily when I was like ten or eleven. Like fifth grade. And then all through middle school, Jadakiss was just the shit, and you couldn’t tell me otherwise. And then, in high school, that’s when I first – I heard my first Drake song in the eighth grade. And I was like, “Wow, this is fire.” Because Drake was more on some East Coast type of rapper like the lyrical type of shit. But the first song I heard from Drake was, uh – remember when he did the “Closer to my Dreams” song? [sings]
[raps] Yeah, that was the first Drake song I ever heard. My little sister put me on it. My little sister’s way cooler than me. Ten times cooler than me. She showed me King Krule. She showed me that song. She showed me Drake.
Did she grow up with your mom as well?
Why is she cooler than you?
Why is she cooler? Because she does more. The thing is, the younger generation – they’re just cooler than us. And people have to accept it. They’re just smarter, faster, they’re just ahead of the game because they’re younger. They live in the future. Yeah, so she would put me on all of that shit. And she was like, “Kyle, you remember Jimmy from Degrassi?” And I was like, “Yeah”. And she was like “Well, he’s the best rapper ever.” I was like “What are you talking about? You mean Wheelchair Jimmy? Right. He’s raw?” And she showed me that shit and I was like, “Wow.” And I heard my first Kid Cudi song that same year. My brother had “Day ‘n Nite” as his MySpace song. I guess my biggest disconnection with rap was like, I liked Jadakiss and all that but, the only disconnection was I could never be it.
Is there one person who inspired your whole career until now?
Yeah, that’s the part I’m getting to. Like, Jadakiss was my favourite rapper just for the music, but it’s like, I think the reason I wasn’t developing as an artist the way I wanted to is because I didn’t have anybody teaching me how to express myself. I just had people teaching me how to rap. You feel me? Like, I had Jadakiss teaching me how to have bars, but I didn’t have anybody rapping about shit I could relate to. Because it’s like, no matter how hard I tried I’m never gonna be like Jadakiss. It’s a hood dude from New York. I’m like, a mixed kid from a California suburb. It’s never gonna make sense. And like, I made hella songs. I’d always play them for my friends and be like, “How you feel about this?” And they’d be like, “Oh yeah, you got bars, but your shit is still wack.” And I’d be like, “Damn, but why?” And it’s because it just wasn’t authentic. But then when I heard Drake and I heard Kid Cudi, and I heard Big Sean and that era of people, when I was in ninth grade, eighth grade, that’s when I heard people rapping about shit I could relate to. That’s kind of when the “You Have to Be a Thug” era died. And Kanye West. I keep skipping that. I was listening to Kanye – but not on some “I’m a fan of Kanye” but like, I’d turn on the radio and listen to it. And I heard “Jesus Walks” and was like, “Damn, this is cool.” But I’ve never really been super religious so I couldn’t connect with that either. It wasn’t until Drake and Kid Cudi until I really learned, “Damn, I should write songs about myself and the shit I actually do, and not write songs about fucking guns and shit.” Because that’s what all my raps were about. Just literally mass murder and fucking drugs. Like, Pablo Escobar.
But the issue was, I didn’t have any of the rap artists that were talking about shit that made sense to me. Because back then, you just had to be a thug and that was the whole point. Like, everybody – literally every person in rap was hard. And it got to a point where I was like, “Fuck, I can’t relate to none of this.” I like it. I mean, I appreciate Jay Z, I appreciate Jadakiss, I appreciate Tupac. But it’s not me.
If you compare the artists now to the ones back then, it was all about thug and crime, girls and money, but now people from the niche areas are coming out and bringing fresh and unique music.
Yeah, I think the biggest difference is we have the control now. I think back then, obviously, all that shit was authentic. You think about the time of the eighties and the nineties when Hip Hop was really being formed, shit was a hard time. Most motherf*ckers was broke. People were living in the hood, people were selling crack like, that was the thing. But I think a lot of it too, though – and I don’t know because I wasn’t there – but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of that shit was falsified because it’s what the market demanded. Middle America liked hearing Black people talk about this exciting ass shit like, Shoot Em Up is exciting. Nothing is more exciting than the Death Row era of music. There have never been more polarizing figures ever. Not nobody. Not Travis Scott, not the most awesome, most polarizing people of right now can compare to Snoop Dogg. Snoop Dogg was a fucking gangster. Death Row – you can’t get more over the top. You know how you go to a movie and you want to see like, explosions and people getting smoked. That’s what they were rapping about then so it was super-polarizing. And I think the market demanded more of it. Once gangster rap became a thing, everybody had to do it, because that’s what people wanted to hear. And I think now, we just have so much more control. We don’t have to do what the people want to hear. We can make them like what we do. Lil Uzi can just make people like what he wants to do because he doesn’t have to go through a record label that’s like, “Okay well, you know, this is dope but actually, in the market of Atlanta, the only thing selling is gangsta rap. So if you could just put a little more…”
Do they still do that in the industry? Because when you watch shows like Empire, they show that.
That shit doesn’t really happen anymore. Unless you’re an artist that gets signed before you have a fan base, or if you’re an artist who gets signed when you have a fan base it’s like, you have all the say. Because they gotta do what’s already working. But it’s like, back then you had to get a record deal first and then they had to shape you and then they would release you. We have more control, so I think that’s the biggest difference – we can do what we want now and we don’t have to be something, we can just be us.
How did you find your sound growing up?
I think it’s actually a blessing that I didn’t get to have the same upbringing as everybody else in rap, musically at least. I mean, everybody has different upbringings but as for music, the fact that I didn’t even listen to rap until I was ten or eleven, just makes all my melodies and choices different. Because you can’t change your childhood. It just shapes you. So in the back of my mind, I keep thinking of major chord melodies, which is every nineties rock song ever. [sings]. That’s what’s in the back of my head. So it was really that nineties rock – nineties music in general, but just like, I would even say kind of more like white music is what was the first shit I got exposed to. So, that’s my biggest difference between me and other people musically, is that I didn’t really get to listen to all the shit that everybody knows.
So my sound was already there. I feel like I didn’t have to find my sound, I just had to be comfortable expressing it. I had to stop lying to myself.
How was it collaborating with Lil YachtyLil Yachty? How did you guys collaborate?
That was dope. So, I just FaceTimed Yachty. I had this song, and I just FaceTimed him.
So I met him because me and my homie Brick do mad choreography. He’s like my DJ dude. And then Lil Yachy and Perry, Lil Perry, his hypeman, they do mad choreography. And so they posted a video doing some dance move shit, on Twitter, and then they were like “Who can see us?” And everybody was tweeting them “Battle Brick and Kyle”. They were trying to set up a You Got Served ass dance battle between me and Lil Yachty. And I’m hella happy it didn’t happen because it would be sus. And me and Yachty would have been in sweatpants and shit trying to fucking dance battle each other. That’s how we met though. And then I was working on a song and I was like “Man, you know who would be fucking tight on this?” and then a little bubble appeared and it was Lil Yachty and he was like “Ay bro, just fuck with me!” So I FaceTimed his ass, he was getting his hair braided or something. I was like “I got this song, I feel like it could be pretty fucking cracking. I want to get you on it.” He was like, “Yeah, just play it.” This is how you know Lil Yachty is a fucking genius. He was like, “Just play it bro.” So I was like, “For sure.” I played literally half a second of the song, I played like two seconds of the song. “And he was like “I’m coming over. I’m coming over right now. I’ll be there in thirty minutes.” And then like four hours later he showed up. And he just did that shit in like ten minutes.
Those are always the best collaborations though, right?
Best ones. And I think it goes back to that youth thing. Like, Lil Yachty knows because he’s young, he knows what’s tight. I only do what I like. He’s somebody who can listen to anything and be like, “Okay, well that’s tight. That’s gonna work but that, I don’t know about that. Yeah this iSpy song, I heard like two seconds of it, I’m getting on it.” He just came over, bodied it, and he does a lot of skits. Like theatrical shit. If you listen to his first mixtape he has an intro song called “Just Keep Swimming”. And he’s like “Well, this is the story of Lil Yachty,” and he’s just talking, “And his counterpart, Lil Boat”. And I used to do a bunch of skits and shit in all my mixtapes where I’d be like, a talk show host. And I’d be like, “So thanks for coming out Y’all,” know what I mean? I would do all this theatrical shit because I used to do drama in high school. I was like, a drama nerd. And so I told Yachty like, “Bro, we have to do some skit shit in the beginning.” And he’s like, “Okay bro, for sure, about what?” And I was like, “Let’s just talk about not letting life get you down.” And then we just freestyled it like six times and eventually we got the right one.
So in the UK who would you collaborate with?
Damn. That’s so hard but, I fuck with MNEK so tough. MNEK does not fuck with me but I fuck with MNEK. Well, I don’t know if he doesn’t fuck with me but I sent him some songs and he was just like nah. But it’s okay because I’m a fan. But yeah. His voice is just wild. And, he’s just not on some shit everybody else is on. He’s kind of on some experimental shit. I would say MNEK or…I love Skepta but he’s almost too raw for me and I’d be like, “Just do you bro.” Or, I like XO Music. I don’t know if you guys know XO Music but he’s fire. XO Music is so fire, it’s like kind of on some dance shit. But all your music is on some dance shit. Which is tight too. And that’s why I kinda like dance music too because I was always getting played grime and Wiley type shit. And Because back in America, dance and rap did not cross paths at all. But over in the UK, the two were already sitting on top of one another in this perfect pocket. That’s another thing I like about UK rappers too is that the pocket is so crazy. Like Skepta’s pocket is so WILD. It’s so different. Like nobody raps like that over here. It’s just weird. Like nobody raps like that.“You get me, you get me” The pauses in all his shit is like, ridiculous. It’s some other shit. So yeah MNEK or XO Music. Because they’re both fire.
And talking about fashion. You’ve seen the fashion in London, right?
Well, I’ve never been to London. But I’ve seen motherf*ckers in London looking cool.
How would you compare London fashion to L.A?
I feel like L.A. is more lazy. L.A. people want to be comfortable because we live in the most comfortable city in the world. It’s so comfortable in California. California is about comfort first. I feel like that’s the one secret truth we’ve unlocked about the world is that it’s not what other people think about you, it’s what you think about yourself, in California. That’s how motherf*ckers act in California. We’re just fake concerned. Inside we really don’t give a f*ck what someone else has to say. We just all have to pretend like we give a f*ck. And so we’re just super casual out here. Which has shaped me and my style. I don’t really want to change it, I’m just gonna wear what’s comfortable. But in like, the UK or even towards the East Coast – because the East Coast still has so much more of that UK left in it, it just still has more of that old world left in it – people are more dressed up and they care about their appearance more. Like their appearance is more of a representation of themselves. Whereas in California, your biggest representation of yourself is your personality. So basically what I’m saying is that London people definitely dress way cooler. But with California people, you dress more with your heart and not with your mind.
“In California, your biggest representation of yourself is your personality”
How would you describe your style in one word?
Damn. Free! In one word, really I just like…I feel like I would just put on some shit and make it work. When I’m putting on clothes I don’t feel like I’m wearing an outfit, I feel like I’m just existing with some shit on my body. But I don’t feel like, “Oh, I have on this jacket.” It’s just because I don’t focus on it enough and that’s what I’m saying. I feel like a lot of California people – unless that’s your thing, unless you’re into fashion, like, L.A. has a huge fashion –
For me, I feel like you guys – because I know you love Vans – Vans is so big here. Why is it that everyone in California loves Vans?
It’s because skating is huge. But also it’s like, California is so comfortable right. You’re born here and you go to school and the first thing you see is everybody wearing Vans and you just adapt. It’s so much more about lifestyle. It’s all lifestyle in California. It’s all like, this is the way things are.
Do you have to skate to wear Vans?
Nah. You don’t have to skate to wear Vans. It’s like, if you’re in California, you just have to have legs to wear Vans. Nobody’s gonna judge you for wearing Vans. They just feel like home. When I put a pair of Vans on my feet I feel like I brought California with me. I could be anywhere in the world and if I see them on my foot it just reminds me of home.
Back in the days, a lot of rappers used to just wear black. And I feel like the rappers in the new generation now wear a lot of colour. Like, for you, I can see you love colour. So what do you love about wearing colour?
Man, you know what, a huge influence I left out in the beginning, growing up was the Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff. Not to show but like, the eighties rappers. Because before I had Drake or Kid Cudi or Big Sean and these more expressive people, I had YouTube and could go back in time to a point where hip hop culture was hella about fun. And I couldn’t relate to being a thug but I could relate to wanting to have fun. And I could relate to being positive and wanting to dance and shit. You remember Kid ‘n Play? Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff…Salt-n-Pepa. That entire generation of rap was hella expressive. The energy almost felt like the sixties were full of turmoil, and then the eighties they were like “We’re free. We can be whatever we want.” And I always connected to that growing up. That’s what inspired me to just be hella colourful is when I saw that type of shit and was like “Damn, this is fresh and this is loud”. I was always a shy kid because everybody around me was all thugged out, and then as soon as I saw that shit it just kind of inspired me to be louder.
You found yourself through that.
I definitely found myself through Fresh Prince. As a person. That’s a person I connected to the most in high school. I was like, “I wanna be Will Smith so bad.” I thought he was so fucking tight. And he was just a normal dude. That’s the first normal dude. Literally when it comes to looking at other Black people, other famous Black people, we all aspire to be people we know about. But looking at every other male figure, there was not one of them that I was like “Damn, I feel just like you.” I knew about 50 Cent, I knew about the Game, everybody wanted to be like the Game. But it’s like, I couldn’t push myself to fake it like that. I couldn’t push myself to fake it. So the Fresh Prince was somebody who I was like, “Damn, I feel you. I want to be just like you.” That’s where I got all the colour.
So what advice would you give to an upcoming artist that wants to be like someone?
My best advice I would give to any upcoming artist, especially inspired by somebody, everything is inspiration. It’s just a mix up of different inspirations. So find the things that are most authentic to you. It’s okay to be inspired by shit, but be inspired by shit that really speaks to you in an authentic way. Before thinking about that person, think about yourself, and how can you be the most authentic. That’s what everything is about. Every single company, every single brand, every single artist, every single everything that’s trying to be looked at is trying to come across as authentic. So your music, your art, your clothes – none of it is ever going to work if it doesn’t feel real. So only do shit that’s authentic to you. And if there’s an artist out there that you’re super inspired by, make sure that it’s somebody that’s really authentic to you. Even though you may like some other shit that’s super dope, don’t try to be it if you’re not it. Like, I love Snoop Dogg. Like, I love West Coast gangster shit. But I can’t – that’s not me. So try to make sure you’re keeping your influences to shit that’s honestly you. Because that’s how you’re going to make the best product. Find this, “Damn I feel this.” Find this, “Damn, I feel this, too.” Find something else, “I super feel this.” Mix it all up, brand new swag.