KYLE Talks Dream Collaborations & How 'iSpy' Helped Kodak Black Beat Depression

Kyle recently spoke to Billboard. 

In 2017, KYLE has found a way to spear his way through the barricades of rap with his catchy single "iSpy." While the record teeters along the lines of Dora the Explorer and Blue's Clues, his Lil Yachty-assisted track ballooned into a hit, earning a home on the Billboard Hot 100.

In a matter of weeks, KYLE's whimsical record sped its way to the No. 4 spot on the Hot 100, and earned him his first No. 1 single on the Billboard rap charts. His success also led to performances at the 2017 Teen Choice Awards, this year's VMAs and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Despite the song's occasionally sing-songy lyrics, Kyle made sure to supply his day one loyalists a hearty supply of raps when he released "Nothing to Lose." Brimming with confidence, KYLE morphs into his alter-ego Superduperkyle and dropkicks his adversaries: "I think another platinum plaque is coming soon," the 24-year-old raps.

With a multitude of accolades under his belt, KYLE is ready to blossom into a mega-star with his forthcoming debut album. He spoke to Billboard about his "epic" 2017, dreams of collaborating with Jadakiss, and how "iSpy" helped Kodak Black get over his depression while in jail.

How would you describe your 2017?
KYLE: 2017 has been super epic. 2017 has been like -- you know in a cartoon where it's like, randomly everything is going good for some reason and you're like, "I wonder why?" And then it's because they're in like a dream? I feel like I'm ready to wake up at any second. Like, this shit has been phenomenal, and it just happened so unexpectedly. It all feels like, "Damn. All this great stuff is happening this year, why?" But then, you think about the past five years of work you've been putting in and you're like, "OK. Maybe that." It's been dope.

What was your initial reaction when you learned "iSpy" hit the top five on the Billboard Hot 100?
I'm gonna keep it solid -- when it went 82 on the Hot 100, I was like, "Oh my God. I'm on the Hot 100? What?" Then, when that shit dropped from 82 to 42, I was like, "Oh my God. Bro, I'm about to have a top 40 song!" Then, when I had a top 40 song and it jumped to like 30 something, I was like so gassed, it was ridiculous. Then, it went to 20 and then 10, bro. Then, that shit went to 4. No, it went from like 8 or 7 first, then it went to 4. I had the No. 4 song in the world, and when it to No. 1 on the rap side, that was even crazier.

I'm not even gonna lie, I played Jadakiss "We Gon' Make It" and shed a thug tear, and was like "Damn. Me and all my homies did it." Jesus shed a thug tear, too.

We're still waiting for that Jadakiss collaboration.
Oh my God! Yes! If I can force a feature right now... like if a genie came out a bottle and said, "I'd give you one feature" -- even though I know if I do some shit with Drake, it'll go instantly platinum and make me mad money -- I'd still pick Jadakiss. Not even a beat, bro. I just need a snare, literally. Just me, Jadakiss and a snare, bro. Like that's how much I love Jadakiss.

Even though I feel like when Jadakiss finally meets me, he might just punch me in the chest or some shit off of light skin GP. Like, 'Get this light-skinned, curly-headed...' and I'd still be cool with it because that's how much I fuck with Jadakiss and the whole Lox. I love all of them.

With you being from Cali', not a lot of people would have thought htat you appreciated the East Coast sound so much.
You know, randomly enough, all of my favorite rappers growing up were East Coast rappers. I don't know. I just related to them a little more at first -- because if you're born in L.A. and you lived there your whole life, Snoop Dogg literally sounds like cars driving by. You feel me? You hear Snoop Dogg so much. You hear all that shit so much that it becomes normal to you by the time you're 10, you feel me? And I feel like there was a moment when the West Coast didn't have mad shit out, and it was around that time that I wanted to dive deeper into rap.

I felt like I related to East Coast lyricism a little more. Because I couldn't be super gangsta. Like, I'm not super gangsta, as you look at me, even though the East Coast shit was super thugged out too. I could like kind of ease my way in there with a little De La Soul, you feel me? Then, step it up a little bit with some Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, then, get like Big L and I'm like kind of thugged out. Take that, mix that up and go over to Gang Starr, take that and I finally find myself on The Lox's doorstep like, 'Teach me about bars.' Because they have the most.

Were you dropping "Nothing to Lose" directly after "iSpy" intentionally, so that you can show people you can rap too?
Definitely. Bars. Definitely, because it was happening so soon. It was happening so fast that I was like... I knew that "Nothing to Lose" wasn't gonna probably go off the same way numbers-wise like "iSpy," but "Nothing to Lose" was more like a statement record for me. Because at first, I was going to drop "Nothing to Lose" before "iSpy." That was where I found myself in rap at the time. I was like, "Damn n---a. I'm like half fallen off, who gives a fuck, but I got nothing to lose. You don't gotta fuck with me. I fuck with me. You feel me?" That's what "Nothing to Lose" is about. After "iSpy" popped, I was kind of like, 'I told y'all,' and I just wanted to drop "Nothing to Lose" to kind of reinstate that.

What made you decide to get Kodak Black for the "iSpy (Remix)?"
Man, you know what, first and foremost, everybody hated that remix for some reason. Like bro, my fans were so pissed. I was like, "What's wrong?" The thing is, me and my friends, we legitimately fuck with Kodak. Kodak is hard. "No Flockin" is an amazing song. So we fuck with Kodak. When Kodak was in jail, 'iSpy" was his favorite song. We found out from his A&R, who said 'iSpy' was getting Kodak through jail. He said while he was in jail, he was hella depressed. He was hella sad. 'iSpy' was getting him through jail. It was making him happy.

So he said that was his favorite song. He was on the phone and shit and wanted to do it when he got out. So when he got out, he did that shit literally the first day he got home. He called me, like, 'Man. I just killed that motherfucker, man.'
The thing is, I don't judge people. I feel like my fans are a little sheltered. They're not necessarily ready for that.

They want the Kyle that hangs out with Chance the Rapper and Taylor Bennett.
Exactly. But everybody from the hood ain't bad, you feel me? If Kodak said that song helped him get over some depression, I'm fucking with him.

With your debut album coming up, are fans going to get the "iSpy" Kyle or "Nothing to Lose" Kyle?
Man, you know what? Fans are just about to get this real. That's what they're about to get. I mean, there's "Nothing to Loses." There's some like up-beat shit, then there's some R&B shit, and then there's some real life shit, you know? I gotta show people both sides. Like, the high moments with "iSpy" and the low moments, because every person has both. That's what I'm trying to portray to people.

I think with social media and all the famous people people see nowadays, I don't think we understand that's it OK to be normal. It's OK to be a little broken. Like, everybody is. Everybody has problems. Everybody goes through shit. I think we're so used to seeing perfect people that that's not what I want to give them. I could give them a whole album full of "iSpy"s and be like, 'It's all good!' the whole time, but I wanna show kids that you can be a little messed up too and it's alright.

Lastly, we have to know: Is it Superduperkyle or Kyle?
I'll say, it always depends on you. It depends on your mood, you feel me. Like Superduperkyle is an alter-ego that I invented for myself.

I thought you were referring to yourself as a Dragon Ball Z character and saying you're going Super Saiyan 3.
Nah, it is. Superduperkyle is the version of Kyle that can be anything, you feel me. He can beat anything. Nothing can bring him down. Kyle is just chilling on the couch playing Zelda. Superduperkyle is the one that's like, 'Damn. I gotta go save this world. Let me go and put on this cape. Go out there and conquer all the wack shit that's happening in my life.'

This story was first posted to Billboard.

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Billboard And VIBE Host Second Annual R&B/Hip-Hop Power Players Event

Billboard and VIBE joined forces for the second annual R&B and Hip-Hop Power Players event on Thursday night (October 17). Held at New York City's Union City, the brands honored the 100 accomplished music executives, agents and more who made the third annual list for their outstanding contributions of driving, influencing and guiding the music industry and hip-hop culture today.

Billboard Executive Director of R&B/Hip-Hop Gail Mitchell and VP of Culture Media/VIBE Editor-in-Chief Datwon Thomas greeted guests at the invite-only reception saying, "Big shout to the team that puts this together, we just want everyone to know that this is a night of celebration. A lot of people have been working in the game for a long time - you are here tonight so you are all winning." He added, "We thank you for taking the time to celebrate your colleagues."

Shortly after, the hosts presented Steve Pamon with the Billboard Executives of the Year Award shared with Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. As he accepted his award, the Parkwood Chief Operating Officer delivered a speech saying, “This award was given to myself and Beyoncé, but the award truly belongs to the team behind me. We live off respect and responsibility. A sincere thank you.” He went on to say, “We live off of respect and the responsibility of being around all of you. You are hip-hop. We are hip-hop. It’s not about us. It’s about us all.”

The late Nipsey Hussle was honored with the Billboard Impact Award for his contributions to breaking barriers of cultural appropriation, young professionals seeking educational resources in science, tech and mathematics spaces, and positivity in his community. Prior to Marathon Agency co-founder, Steve Carless, acceptance of the world on Hussle's behalf, there was a 30-second moment of silence.

In his emotional yet encouraging speech, Carless said, “I accept this on behalf of Nipsey, his family, and all his loved ones and his children. What this means to me, it’s a testament to his hard work and dedication." He added, "Congrats to everyone who made this year. It’s a huge honor...One thing I do want to say it, this award is about inspiration. Responsibility is to uplift each other mentor each other and lead each other. May all of us leave here and know we have a responsibility.”

As attendees enjoyed beverages and captured Instagram-worthy images at the Billboard and VIBE cover-inspired installations, rappers Casanova and Young M.A hit the stage, respectively, to perform their popular singles. Flip through photos and interviews from Thursday night's event down below.

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New Music Friday: Gucci Mane, Kash Doll, Melli And More

This week has been busy in the hip-hop world. Highly anticipated albums from Gucci Mane, Kash Doll, and G Eazy hit streaming services. There's also new music from Jadakiss, newcomer 24 Hours, rap veterans Black Moon, Yo Gotti featuring Megan Thee Stallion and Lil Uzi Vert, BlueFace, and many others.

Gucci Mane – Woptober II The hustle does not stop for Gucci Mane. The A-Town-bred delivered his 15th studio album today titled, Woptober. The 13-song effort features collaborations with DaBaby and YoungBoy Never Broke Again on "Richer Than Errybody," the Megan Thee Stallion-assisted "Big Booty," as well as a verse from Lil Baby on "Tootsies. Guwop also received assists from Kevin Gates, Takeoff and others. Along with Woptober 2, the Trap House rapper appeared in a ad campaign for Gucci's Cruise20 Collection. – Darryl Robertson Apple Music | TIDAL

Kash Doll – Stacked Kash Doll continues to make a lane for her voice in hip-hop. Since delivering her 2014 mixtape Keisha vs. Kash Doll, the Detroit native has been consistent with dropping off new music, and has garnered the respect of heavyweights such Pusha T, Meek Mill, and Big Sean, who appears on Stacked. The 17-song effort features the likes of Lil Wayne, Trey Songz, Summer Walker, Teyana  Taylor, and newcomer LouGotCash. – D.R. Apple Music | TIDAL

Melii: Motions Melii's Motions EP came as a surprise today. The East Harlem artist first made waves after dropping off her cover of Cardi B's "Bodak Yellow," followed by a feature on Meek Mill's "Wit the Shits."Following phAses, released earlier this year, the 21-year-old unveiled Motions, an 18 minute EP that finds the MC/singer musing over boyfriends-turned-fuck boys.

Nicole Bus – Kairos Roc Nation's Nicole Bus released her debut album Kairos today. Ghostface Killah and Rick Ross both appear on individual remixes of "You," Bus' breakout record that climbed to No. 1 on Billboard’s 'Adult R&B Songs' chart. Overall, the 14-track effort Kairos is packed with potent writing, and mature subject matter. – D.R. Apple Music | TIDAL

Gang Starr – "Bad Name" DJ Premier released the first new Gang Starr song in years several weeks ago, with the J. Cole-featured "Family and Loyalty." This week he's announced that a new Gang Starr album with the posthumous Guru is on the way, and "Bad Name" is the second taste. Over another classic Premier beat, Guru pays homage to 2Pac and Biggie while lamenting the direction that the rap game has gone in. Gang Starr's album One Of The Best Yet is set for a January 11, 2019 release. – William E. Ketchum III Apple Music | TIDAL

Smoke DZA, Benny The Butcher and Pete Rock – Statute of Limitations Benny the Butcher, Smoke DZA and Pete Rock have all had busy years on their own with projects like The Plugs I Met, Not For Sale and Retropolitan, respectively. This week, the three of them form like Voltron for Statute of Limitations, a six-song EP with guest appearances by Conway, Styles P and Westside Gunn. – W.K. Apple Music | TIDAL

Black Moon – Rise Of Da Moon Black Moon recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of their classic debut Enta Da Stage, and now they're looking forward with the reunion LP Rise of Da Moon. The album sees them with their Duck Down Records label home, production by Da Beatminerz, and guest appearances by Smif N Wessun, Rock (of Heltah Skeltah) and Method Man. – W.K. Apple Music | TIDAL

Pharaohe Monch – Internal Affairs Twenty years ago, esteemed Queens lyricist Pharaohe Monch released his debut album Internal Affairs with Rawkus Records, fueled by the hit single "Simon Says" – but the album was pulled from shelves because of sample clearances. This week, several albums into his career, Monch has rereleased the album on his own terms, and it still holds up. The album's ominous production and Monch's meticulous bars alongside the likes of MOP, Canibus, Busta Rhymes, Talib Kweli and Common still sounds just as sharp. – W.K. Apple Music | TIDAL

Melii – Motions Melii surprised fans with the release of her Motions EP. Earlier this year, the East Harlem native dropped off her introduction to the world with the release phAses. The rapper/singer first made waves with her cover of Cardi B's "Bodak Yellow," followed by her verse on Meek Mill's "Wit the Shits." The budding artist continues to stand on her own. Here, on Motion, a 7-song EP lasting spanning 18 minutes, Melii flexes her seasoned songwriting skills to muse over boyfriends-turned-fuck boys. - D.R.

Jadakiss – "ME" Jadakiss has taken a break from releasing music since his 2017 album with Fabolous, Friday On Elm Street. This week he returns with "Me," a Bryan Michael Cox-produced record that sees 'Kiss using the sample in his verses while revisiting accomplishments and reputation from his illustrious career. The release of the song coincides with a short film directed by Kid Art, which you can watch below. – W.K. Spotify | Apple Music | TIDAL

Yo Gotti (Featuring Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Uzi Vert) – "Pose (Remix)"

G-Eazy – Scary Nights Apple Music | TIDAL

24Hrs – World On Fire Apple Music | TIDAL

Ye Ali – Jodi Apple Music | TIDAL

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Blueface Ft. Gunna – "First Class"

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Rick Ross' ‘Port Of Miami 2 Tour' Is Motivation To Hustlers Far And Wide

“I can spot a millionaire—from the guy working at the carwash,” Rick Ross said to a sold-out crowd at New York City’s Gramercy Theatre on his “Port of Miami 2 Tour.” “He got the rag hanging out of his pocket, to the way he rock his [pants]. I see the millionaire in him,” Rozay continued.

For nearly two hours on Tuesday (Oct. 15), the MMG bawse galvanized the hustler’s spirit, thanks to the preciseness of words used to explain his “came from the bottom” narrative combined with first hand accounts of the imperative mental spaces that dope boys experience.

But before Rozay graced the stage at the Gramercy Theatre, MMG’s baby boomer Yowda entertained the crowd for a brief set before passing the mic to lifelong MMG soldier Gunplay.

Rocking a black Dickies outfit, the Triple C member, who has been vocal about his cocaine addiction, stormed the stage with coke-like energy while mouthing lyrics to his sobering verse from “The Great Americans,” a song from MMG’s Self Made, Vol. 3.

Gunplay, who was actually born in the Bronx, nimbly bounced across the stage like a point-guard maneuvering through defense closed out his set with his under-the-radar street classics “Blood on the Dope,” “Bible on the Dash,” and his verse from Waka Flacka’s “Rolling.”

With marijuana smoke clouding the venue, liquor relaxing some concert-goers, and the clock inching toward 9:15 p.m., Rozay slowly walked toward the center of the stage—indirectly egging on the standing ovation by confidently nodding his head. Lex Luger’s “B.M.F.” instrumental blasted from the speakers for what seemed like minutes before the Dade County native dived into his verses.

The motivational concert commenced with the words: “I think I’m Big Meech, Larry Hoover,” here Ross is claiming his declaration to be financially independent---probably his No. 1 goal in life.

Less than two minutes into the start of Rozay’s set, The L.O.X.’s Styles P surprised the crowd by appearing onstage to deliver his verse from “B.M.F,” which was followed by ”Good Times (I Get High).” Surprises continued when Jadakiss appeared on stage to help his partner-in-rhyme run through their classic, “We Gonna Make It.”


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Elite Mc’ing last night with @richforever . #Dblock #Lox #NYC

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After working up a sweat, a slimmer-looking Ross shedded his beige designer trench jacket. Dressed in all white—like the cocaine money that he raps about—with shining jewels wrapped around his neck and wrists, Ross played the visual representation of success to kids from every coast.

Ross proceeded the show with his get-money classics like “I’m Not a Star,” where when he rapped: “Nine for the slice, dummy that’s a Dan Marino/Talking quarterbacks, meaning talking quarter kilos,” concert-goers enthusiasm seemed to max-out as they rapped with words with Ross.

After performing a list of favorites like “Aston Martin Music” and “Hustlin’,” the Box Chevy anthem that set the rapper’s career in motion, and “Where My Money (I Need That),” Rozay surprised New Yorkers by inviting Brooklyn native Fabolous onstage.

The Young OG entertained the Gramercy with hits like “Breathe” and “Cuffin Season” before closing his set with his verse from Meek Mill’s “Uptown.”

As the night grew to a close, Ross decided to remind fans that it’s totally fine for hustlers to shed tears. With that, the 43-year-old delivered his masterful verse from Kanye West’s “Devil in a New Dress.”

The place erupted with emotion with lines like “Whole clique appetite had tapeworms/Spinning Teddy Pendergrass vinyl as my J burns/I shed a tear before the night’s over.”


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Elite Mc’ing last night with @richforever . #Dblock #Lox #NYC

A post shared by (@realholidaystyles) on Oct 16, 2019 at 8:19am PDT

Tears continued to fall as Ross ran through the CeeLo Green-assisted “Tears of Joy,” a woeful hip-hop ballad that shows the imperativeness—from a dope boys POV—of financial freedom.

Overall, Rozay’s performance is not filled with animation and routines. His stage presence isn’t as strong as fellow hustler-turned-rappers Jay-Z and Pusha T. However, Ross’ words of encouragement are powerful tools that incites the “give me liberty or death” mentality that birthed the hustlers spirit of America, and birthed America.

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