Light of MIne
Kyle: Light of Mine

Formerly known as K.i.D., Ventura rapper/singer/actor Kyle Harvey has been grinding out music since youth. Today, he’s a force to be reckoned with. In many ways Kyle is the anti-rapper; there’s no aggression, no macho exterior, no forced cool-guy persona that Kyle must turn on. Instead, Kyle embraces the “lame” voice and vocabulary he got from being raised by a white mom, and embodies the exact opposite of how most rappers want to be perceived. His rap name is simply his first name; Kyle endearingly raps as himself. In doing so, he’s pushing the boundaries of rap while simultaneously bringing nice guys back in style.

While I loved previous mixtapes like 2015’s Smyle, Kyle’s feature-packed studio debut Light of Mine sees him dig even deeper—exploring his mental health, re-living losing his virginity, examining the quality of his relationships, and rediscovering self love. I talked to Kyle ahead of his “Lightspeed World Tour” stop in Portland (Saturday, October 13). Peep our entire convo after the jump!

MERCURY: Hey Kyle!
KYLE: How are you? Yo, for a second I thought your name was Demi Moore and I was like "Seriously? Demi Moore, that’s ca-razy."

Haha! Congrats on your first world tour by the way. You kicked it off in Sacramento last night, right?
Thank you very much. Yep, kicked it off in Sac, started the "Lightspeed World Tour."

Did it go smoothly?
Yeah. It went really well. It was a lot of fun. When [I] do festivals and stuff it’s like you kinda show up, do “iSpy,” do “Playinwitme,” and leave. So doing this tour it was really fun to get a chance to perform some of the songs off the album that I haven’t had a chance to perform yet, and see how well kids react to that. You know what I mean? So it was really dope, and I don’t know, it reminded me of the whole following and the culture that I’ve got around me. It really made me appreciative of life and what I’m doing.

There are a lot of features on the album. I’m wondering if that affects which songs you decide to add to your setlist.
You know, it’s funny: Almost every song on the album is pretty much on there. Yeah, I’m doing all my ones with features because obviously I don’t have Khalid with me on tour but maybe he’ll pull up to a show.

This is a question that’s only for me: Can you tell me if “All 4 You” is on there?
Damnnnn. You really just. Wow, yo. My whole shit is just like, "How did I not put that in the set?" You know what, I might randomly have to do that. I might just have to randomly throw that in there.

Oh my god. Please. PLEASE, Kyle! I’m obsessed with that song. Also, do you have any funny or interesting stories from one of the last times you came to Portland?
You know what? I have a funny interesting story from the first time I went to Portland. First time I ever went to Portland I was on tour with my buddy G-Eazy. First tour I’d ever done. And you know Voodoo Doughnuts, right? Obviously. And I was hearing about Voodoo Doughnuts all day. At this point, it’s late at night and they stay open mad late, right? And I was like walking around. I basically went on—and it was like next door—but for whatever reason I got so lost in Portland and was mobbing around for literally like 45 minutes. I’m talking about running from fans, avoiding strangers, it was a full movie. It was a quest. It needed to be narrated by Morgan Freeman. That’s how long it took me to get to Voodoo Doughnuts. And then, after walking around for like an hour and some change, I found out it was like next door and I was kinda bummed out but I had that doughnut for the first time and it was all worth it.

What kind was it?
It had some type of cereal on it.

Like Cap’n Crunch?
Yeah, I think it might’ve been a Cap’n Crunch one, like Crunch Berries.

I can see that. So obviously you’ve always been pretty emotionally honest in your music, but it seems like there’s a wider range of emotion on this new album. What was that creative process like for you?
It was really liberating. It was really refreshing, the creative process on this album, ’cause like I feel like yeah, this time the range of emotions and what I was talking about was just so wide. So if I was having a bad day I could talk about that on this album. If I was having a great day I could talk about that on this album. If there was something specific I needed to say to somebody I could say it on this album. I feel like I got so much of what I have inside of me out on this album. So yeah, it felt refreshing. It felt like I’d finally sat something down that I’d been holding for so long. The feeling you get when you bring in mad groceries and your arms are killing you and your fingers are hella killing you, like "ah damn," and you just set it down finally? Whatever that feeling is right there is how this album felt.

Yeah, just a relief. And on this album I tried to make sure I was pushing the needle forward sonically, trying to like do something experimental in a sense that I wanted to take my whole happy vibe, the whole video game vibe and, you know, crank it to a step further. And I also wanted to do things like really get like musical on it and really embrace my R&B side with songs like “Open Doors” and “It’s Yours” and “Coming, Going?” And I also wanted to bridge the gap between the youth and the older people. Like, that’s why my first single on it is featuring Lil Yachty and my second song on the album is featuring Take 6. You know what I’m saying? Like, kids don’t know who Take 6 is, but they should. And I feel like I wanted to expose this audience that I had to like good music.

Speaking of bridging the gap, I saw your new movie The After Party last night and thought it was hilarious. I knew that you could act and that you were funny and silly and stuff from your music videos, and I feel like you’d be a really great guest on like SNL or something like that.
Yo, I would kill SNL.

Oh, I know. I’m sure that’ll manifest. Is acting and movies something you want to dedicate more of your time and energy to?
Yeah, definitely. It’s always been a dream of mine. I mean, when I was a little kid I always wanted to be in movies. I didn’t know how I was going to get there, but I wanted to be in the screen. And really, when I was in high school Will Smith—I mean obviously everyone knows Will Smith the actor but like, my real fandom for Will Smith came from really liking Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff’s music. For me, that era of rap, that early ’80s, mid-’80s era when everything was all bright and fun, that was one of the first things about rap that I could relate to, so I became a big Will Smith fan and then I just liked everything about his career and how he did things, and like really just killing the whole movie thing. And I was like, "Damn, I hella need to do it just like he did it" type of thing. So yeah, I plan on hopefully trying to shoot a movie after I get done with this tour.

Sick! Was there anything you had to like work on, or found yourself working on the most when you were preparing for shooting?
Yes, definitely. My biggest thing that I worked on and I still need to improve on is just not having my mouth open [laughs]. The whole time. You know, I feel like another part of acting—everybody thinks it’s just about killing your line and just saying it. Like, "Oh, get your line off," but there’s so much more time spent on screen when you’re not saying something and you need to find out how to be a powerful presence with just your presence and not necessarily getting to talk the entire time. ’Cause like, when I wasn’t saying something I’d look back at the footage and be like, "Yeah, my mouth is open like I’m just ready to catch flies."

Was there anything that you found came really easy or naturally to you?
I think what was surprising was how fun it was going to be. Like I thought it was going to be this big serious movie deal. And randomly, I clicked with my co-star Harry Holzer. He was just so funny and we literally became friends before shooting and it made it the simplest thing in the world. It would be like, "Yo, just joke with each other and we’re gonna film it." That was kinda like how the process went and I noticed it was so much about chemistry. Chemistry is such a huge part of acting, it being natural and it being something you enjoy. And that’s when I got really excited because I was like, "Wow, they just want me to enjoy myself on camera." And that’s what I found out was like strikingly really easy and really simple was just like, you know, having fun on screen.

I read that Wiz Khalifa that you always wanted to work with, and then you finally got to make that song “Moment” with him for the movie. What was that like?
That was great! Yeah. When I was in high school, there was no cooler individual than Wiz Khalifa—and there still isn’t, to this day. There is no cooler, more down-to-earth and dope person than Wiz. And meeting him and doing the movie with him and the song with him was all a crazy experience, you know, ’cause he’s like a superstar. No doubt about it, he’s been a superstar for so long. So it’s like, in that song “Moment” where I’m saying I can’t believe I’m doing the things I’m doing, like that was a real-life feeling. Especially when recording it with Wiz Khalifa, I’m like, "How is this happening right now?" You feel me? Especially when you’re standing next to him too. We shot the music video for it and I’m in the video like, "Yo, everything that I’m saying in the song relates to this exact moment right here. I’m standing next to Wiz Khalifa shooting a music video." Like, at one point I used to just like try to get into a Wiz Khalifa concert when I was like 17, you know what I mean? So I don’t know, it’s really awesome, man. And I love that song. That’s like my favorite song I damn near ever put out.

I read that you used to try to rap to sound like Jadakiss?
That’s my favorite rapper.

So what helped you to embrace your own voice?
When I noticed I wasn’t gonna get nowhere pretending to be somebody I’m not. Really when I made the song “Lemonade,” I was rapping it and I started laughing ’cause I was saying like funny things in it. And then I realized I played that for people and they would like it. And I was like, "Damn, why do they like this but they don’t like none of my raps about guns?" And then I was like, "OH, because I don’t have any guns. That’s not real." I noticed that the more I was myself the more people would like the music, so it made me just wanna embrace more and more of myself.

I feel like you’ve really been on your rise for the last couple of years. Like, the “iSpy” single was huge, making the XXL Freshmen list and now the movie. So, how would you describe this new stage of your career that you’ve entered into?
Man, it’s crazy. Doing the movie really took me to a place where I didn’t even know it was going to do that. Like, I can’t walk down the street now without being called Owen, or the guy from The After Party, you know? And it’s really dope. I kind of describe this moment right here as you know, me finally taking my career to the heights that I wanted it to reach: I’ve always wanted to be in a movie, I’ve always wanted to be on these commercials and be in a Gap ad, and be making McDonald's theme songs, and that stuff has all happened within the last six months. So it’s really great. I’m making my mom proud. My mom thinks I’m famous now so I’ve officially done it.

Is that kinda where the “Lightspeed” name came from?
Yeah, like things are moving at an insane pace. Yeah, lightspeed. That’s how we’re headed right now. We’re going around the entire world: Asia, Australia, all that.

I love that image you posted on Instagram—that Powerline-inspired flyer for the tour.
Yeah, I love Powerline. He’s the shit.

Shout out Tevin Campbell.
Yo, for real. [sings] Can we talk, for a minute. Aye! I sang that in high school for my talent show.

For real?
For real, for real.