Kyle’s ‘Light of Mine’ Album Helped Him Escape a Dark Place
Just a little under a year removed from being named a 2017 XXL Freshman, Kyle has learned to be his own savior. That's a message that permeates Light of Mine, a melodically infectious debut LP that finds the 25-year-old artist taking his own self-help advice as he navigates bouts with depression while carving out some space to celebrate the good times.
Light of Mine appropriately begins with a track called "Ups & Downs," a song that, with its upbeat instrumental and reflective lyrics, acts as a mission statement for the album. In essence, "Everything is ups and downs."
"2016 hit me like a bag of bricks/2017 switched up, like 'Ooh, it's lit'/I nearly had a mental breakdown/And eight months later had a hit," Kyle spits on the track, introducing the LP's most recurring sentiment. It's one that pops up again on "Zoom."
Kyle knows to celebrate positivity, but he's also aware of how fleeting memories of the good days can be. Recording his new album has helped him find out how to deal with that reality.
"I want people to know [the album is] all true and it's made with good intentions," he tells XXL while calling in from his native Ventura, Calif. "That's what I want people to take away. I made it to help myself and hope that it helps somebody else."
Just two days before dropping his debut LP, Kyle chopped it up with XXL to talk Light of Mine, linking up with 2 Chainz and more.
XXL: How did you come up with your album title?
Kyle: The name Light of Mine came from how the album was conceived and what its purpose was in telling my story. I started making it at a time when I was, more or less, in a darker place than usual. When you start making music, you start making music at a young age and, for me, I just thought like, "Ahh, once you make it, all your problems will be solved, and everything will be fine." I learned in a very real way that that was not the case at the beginning of making this album. And I felt like I was faced with like a problem I hadn't faced before. Through the making of this album [over] the last two years, I've learned so much about life and how to pull yourself out of a dark place. That's why it's called Light of Mine. It's kinda like the step-by-step guide of how I learned to appreciate the awesome things about my life and pull myself out of a dark place.
What were some of the darker places you found yourself in while you recorded this album?
It was just like really new issues. I feel like as a youth you kinda don't realize—at least for me—I just kinda had this time period where [I was like,] "Once I do this, everything will be fine. Nothing bad will ever happen again." As I grew up and really—22, 23, 24—I was faced with new problems that were bigger. A lot of them were issues that pertained to people that were super close to me. I felt like the album came to me more and more on my place that I thought I was done with. I feel like I got knocked down for a second. I felt like I wasn't necessarily taking care of the important things in my life, and that kinda stuff will leave you feeling kinda defeated, until I realized how much awesome things are really in front of me and how much control I have of how I feel and how I'm gonna feel about this new problem. It was really the first time in my life I was faced with a problem and didn't have that super optimistic, "Ahh, no, don't trip, you're gonna be fine" type of feeling.
What was the problem? Was it existential? Was it with your rap career?
You know, for the smallest portions of it, it was my rap career and where I felt like I was at after so many years of putting in hard work. You know, not feeling appreciated. Feeling kinda like you're holding so much weight. And then a larger part of it, I actually had to deal with a mental health issue with somebody that was extremely close to me that I felt like I was supposed to be taking care of, and I felt like I didn't really do my job.
What was your favorite recording session when making Light of Mine?
My favorite recording session was probably the intro track, "Ups and Downs." Up until that point, I kinda felt like I hadn't heard a song that I felt fully represented the direction the way I wanted it to happen. When I was making that song I was like, "Wow, I feel like I'm really saying what I'm supposed to be saying on this album." That was one that definitely stuck out to me.
What are you trying to say with this album?
It's really just a narrative about my life. It's currently where I'm at. What I'm trying to say with this album is, "This is me. These are the things I've been dealing with. This is how I became a better person than I was yesterday."
How did you link up with 2 Chainz on "Ikuyo"? Why did you pick 2 Chainz for that song?
So, trapanese, right? That's a combination of some Japanese music and some trap music from Atlanta. I really like blending two things together that are polar opposites. Because I feel like in a large aspect that's kinda like what I am. Just like, two polar opposite things mixed together that kinda turns out pretty fire. So I was like experimenting with that. I was in the club—I'm not always in the club but I was there. Everybody in the club was just, like, degenerates. Everybody's just throwing up everywhere. Just completely just being a mess. Then, from across the room, I see one person, one shining person out of this whole situation. Just so well-mannered. In the club just like us, but just in such more of an elevated, elegant way. And it was 2 Chainz. And at that moment, I knew he was the right person to put this trapanese song together and to represent the trap in the most authentic, polished way. So it was really a no-brainer. There was nobody else that could've did that song as well as 2 Chainz.
What's your next single?
You know what? The dope thing about today is that you can kinda just put the whole project out and really just see what people gravitate to the most. So I feel like, if that's about choosing what people are gonna listen to and them, more or less choosing like, "This is unanimously our favorite song." I'ma treat the whole album like a single. It's really like, whatever people like the most.
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