Kyle won’t stop clowning himself. In a back room of the labyrinthine Atlantic Records offices in midtown New York, the 24-year-old rapper -- flanked by a coterie of friends playing pingpong and one emptying the innards of a Backwoods cigar onto a table -- shows off his “snaggletooth” and demonstrates his “white soccer mom” voice. “When you roast yourself, it makes everybody else comfortable,” he says.
Affability defines Kyle’s music as much as his persona. The artist (aka SuperDuperKyle, born Kyle Thomas Harvey) is sometimes lumped in with “bubble-gum trap” -- think Lil Yachty, whom he featured on his breakthrough surprise hit, “iSpy,” which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2017. “iSpy” placed him in a new group of MCs as a class-clown type: In the song’s video, his head is superimposed onto a child playing in a sandbox and on a seesaw.
But he’s also a more complex artist than the precedent suggests. Before he was a radio star, the California native straddled trap, jazzy R&B and funk for the better part of a decade. Following the success of “iSpy” and rising single “Playinwitme,” featuring Kehlani (29 million on-demand streams since March, according to Nielsen Music), he’s releasing his major-label debut, Light of Mine, on May 18. Along with features from Khalid and Alessia Cara, he included gospel group Take 6 on the album -- which is an exercise in self-healing, he says, after feeling trapped by his insecurities.