“Hey Kyle, how you doing?” The opening line of southern Californiabased happy-rapper KYLE’s debut album “Light of Mine” is as abrupt as it is candid; a mental greeting from KYLE, to himself about himself. His inner narration rambles on about the oh-so-familiar mental stress of simply existing as a young person in 2018. He asks himself, “What is this dream you’re pursuing? What are these feelings you mention?” As he broadly self-analyzes why, with all of his recent success, he’s still in the same negative mental mindset he always has been.
This thread is the defining feeling of “Light of Mine” and opener “Ups and Downs.” The millennial generation is one of historical significance, and KYLE knows this.
That group is the first to grow up during the technology boom that has made unprecedented leaps in human civilization. Prior to the modern age, people had far less time and far more to worry about. This made confronting one’s own sense of self and belonging impossible, and now that we do have more time and less to worry about (by things to worry about, I mean food, shelter, the fear of being eaten alive etc.), our brains have a difficult time adapting. Whether it’s dealing with the new idea of online dating
(“Playinwitme”) or realizing that no one is truly an adult as it is defined when we are children (“Babies”), KYLE has tapped into the energy of every 20-something who feels like they are making it up as they go along.
His nasally bars feel weirdly relatable and genuine, sounding like Drake if he decided to rap like Chance the Rapper. KYLE turns up the vocal intensity while dialing it back to a soft, soothing croon throughout a surprising majority of the album.
“Light of Mine’s” low-key style and retrotinged beats come across as a significant and refreshing contrast from the purple haze of SoundCloud rappers exploding on the scene. KYLE stays true to himself, not acting boastful or concerned with the affairs of others like on “Zoom” (“All of y’all gross/I keep my circle close/I like myself enough/ That’s why I barely post”). This isn’t to say that KYLE has no ego.
In fact, his ego is the one thing that seems to be holding him back. Having an ego while simultaneously understanding how the detrimental nature of an inflated ego conjures the kind of cognitive dissonance that can lead to unhealthy mental tendencies (“Games”).
This all comes from a place of self-evaluation. Rather than comparing himself to what everyone else is doing, KYLE has decided to put his focus on being a better version of himself. That’s not to say with ease, as throughout the album KYLE has to constantly be reminded of what’s really important to him by his conscience, personified brilliantly by Lil Yachty.
Pretending that everything is great doesn’t magically make things better. At the same time, realizing that nothing is ever going to be perfect and that we are always going to be dealing with some kind of struggles is how we adjust. Recognizing the problem will always make it easier to fix, and that’s what KYLE gets across with “Light of Mine.” As long as you don’t take the people in your life and the things you have for granted, everything will be fine. It always is.