It might be hard to imagine — given the almost other-worldly brightness of his biggest hit — but the California-bred rapper Kyle spent a chunk of his formative years feeling incredibly down. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, the 23-year-old revealed how a lisp kept him from talking much or interacting with other teens in his younger days.
“You just don’t know how uncool it is to be Kyle until you’re Kyle,” he said of his high school years.
However, the dual-discovery of drama class and Kid Cudi pulled him up out of his funk. Cudi showed him that other people can feel depressed and drama class taught him how to put on a happy face.
“At the time everybody in hip-hop was so damn cool and so damn perfect,” he said of Cudi’s work. “And Kid Cudi came out and he was the first person I could relate to that was hurt. ‘You’re not weird for being depressed.’ Kid Cudi has saved lives. He saved my life.”
At the same time that Kyle was discovering Cudi, he began to build the ultra-positive Super Duper Kyle persona that he still raps under today. After psyching himself up in the morning, Kyle would go to school and try to spread the happiness around.
“I started taking that attitude to school and seeing kids that were sad and trying to pick them up,” he said. “I was walking around high-fiving people and telling them they were awesome.”
And that desire to lift people up has carried over into his music, particularly the mega-successful “iSpy” single.
“All I can do with my music is try and be a light for people who are in a dark time,” he said. “Like, ‘Sh*t isn’t that bad. You’re not ugly at all. Look at me I just try to pick people up.”
Now that he’s generating buzz and working on a proper debut album, Kyle says he sees his chance to affect kids in the same way that Cudi did to him, though he puts it in terms sure to rankle older generations.
“I want to affect as many people as possible,” he said. “Like John Lennon. He made ‘Imagine’ and literally changed an entire generation of people. I have a golden opportunity: to not only impact these kids that are coming to these shows but take that and apply that to the world.”
Check out the whole interview over at Rolling Stone.