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KayCyy Interview: ‘It’s that first album that really matters’

Co-signed by the likes of Kanye West, Drake and Travis Scott, KayCyy is the superstar still unknown to the public eye — striving for “perfection” ahead of his upcoming debut album ‘Who Is KayCyy?’.

This interview was originally published on Feb. 11.

KayCyy knows you can only make first impressions once, and he’s doing his best to make sure his is unforgettable.

Like the Thriller Michael Jackson constantly brought forth, the Kenya-born, Minnesota-based artist’s sound is an embodiment of lush soundscapes of dark and light matter — rapping and singing with an effortless control that very few artists possess. While the Kanye West-signed, 24-year-old enigma continues to make his mark in the game, he’s slowly becoming a glistening voice of our generation — touting angelic, gravitating melodies and an ear that’s evidently one-of-a-kind.

When discussing artists who define the new wave, names like SSGKobe, KA$HDAMI, Dro Kenji, TyFontaine, SoFaygo, Baby Keem and more top the list with ease. However, KayCyy is not only gunning for a grand introduction, he’s taking his time with the opportunity he has — fine-tuning his debut full-length project Who Is KayCyy? to become a classic in its own right.

“[Who is KayCyy?] is important,” he said. “It’s like when Kendrick Lamar came out with GOOD Kid, m.A.A.d City or Travis Scott with Rodeo, you know? It’s that first album that really matters. To me, operating at the level that I am at right now, the stuff I’m making I think is going to be crazy, and I have a strong feeling about that.”

Moving to the United States at just nine years old, he found his calling quicker than he could’ve imagined. Music was an instant pull for the young Minnesota native — finding himself performing at talent shows as a teen, studying Kanye’s discography and emulating the aura of 808s & Heartbreaks in high school. Inspired by Michael Jackson, he realized he was able to fluently express himself through music, growing not only as an artist, but as an all-encompassing creative.

[Moving] definitely impacted my life for the better. Like everywhere I’ve traveled to is because of music — except when I first came to America. Seeing the world, seeing everything else and being able to express myself through it — the best way I know how to do that is through music.”

Growing up to the sounds of the Jackson 5, Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne and Chris Brown, KayCyy’s rotation consists of everything from Prince, Bon Iver and Sade to shades of afro-pop found on his 2021 mixtape Ups & Downs. Growing his sound ten-fold since connecting with Ye’s manager Abou “Bu” Thiam nearly four years ago, he’s soaked up as much as he can from the mind of Kanye West throughout his time working on DONDA.

“Me and Ye linked up through Bu [our manager], and having that relationship with Kanye — having him send me work and doing songs together — it just all made sense for both of us. I started working on ‘DONDA’ for a year and it was just an ongoing process. And through that process, I was learning a lot of new things and meeting new people.”

Since KayCyy’s appearances on Ye’s tenth studio album last August, he’s been hard at work finishing his debut album — striving for “perfection” in every aspect of its creation. Welcoming a slew of artists, producers and engineers into his WIKC Camp, Who Is KayCyy is not only expected to garner the YZY Sound protégé’s magnum opus, but is slated to catapualt the singer-rapper straight to superstar-level acclaim.

Bringing in frequent collaborator Ryderoncrack and up-and-coming producer Redda — who have stationed themselves as a few of WIKC’s sonic curators — Ryder alluded to he and KayCyy’s work in his exclusive interview with OGM, divulging that: Every producer talks about growing with an artist, and I think I found that person in KayCyy. We have really good chemistry, and like I said, I can’t really find any other rapper that has that strong of a voice that could go over these beats, that rap and sings.”

Stemming from a barrage of tweets, WIKC is supposedly set to feature Slowthai, SSGKobe, SoFaygo, Yeat, Kid Cudi, Ye, Fivio Foreign, Sunday Service, A$AP Rocky, Weiland and many more — even catching the eye of Drake in recent months. KayCyy is crafting perhaps one of the most forward-thinking albums of our time — and with it, an endless amount of inspiration. Striving to recruit everyone from Frank Ocean to Alicia Keys, KayCyy is on a mission to make an entrance with a debut album for the ages.

“I play some of these new songs that I’ve been making and they’re just mind blowing to me. The tracklist [has changed] so much. I feel like every day, I can make a better song than I did the day before. Something inspires me to make something more powerful every day. I’m really going for perfection with this.”

After months of anticipation, it seems as though he’s finally nearing the end of his debut chapter. Sharing the visual to his underground smash “Stay Up” with Lancey Foux in mid-January, KayCyy’s March EP TW20 50 with revered French producer Gaseffelstein — who crafted The Weeknd’s 2017 EP My Dear Melancholy shatters any other doubt of his talent. His June mixtape Get Used To It further asserted his status as a superstar-in-the-making. Amid recent success, KayCyy is still hard at work “putting together” all the pieces to make Who Is KayCyy? as spotless as it can be.

KayCyy worked with Gesaf in Paris earlier this year, creating the record on a European trek. Adding “Love & Hate” and his excessively teased track “The Sun” onto the Gaseffelstein EP was a move necessary for the rising enigma. While taking his time working with everyone from Ye to Beyoncé to Travis Scott, KayCyy is on the fast track to superstardom whether he realizes it or not.

“I did “Stay Up” when I was in New York working with Travis [Scott]… and it was one of those ‘ones’ that was like ‘aw man, this one is going to be hard.’ Lancey hit me on my socials and it was through Ye playing him one of my songs. When we was in Atlanta for the Donda sessions, we ended up linking while I was in town and did the track.”

With a unique ability to transport and immerse listeners at the center of his world, KayCyy is staying true to his roots as an up-and-coming new wave star — using every tool in his arsenal to create something otherworldly and out-of-the-box.

“Mixing this whole new rage sound we got going on that sounds different from everything else, with alarms and sirens and all that, I just really am trying to push the sound forward. ‘WIKC’ in general is like everything I was working on, was already in the same vein of what I’m making now. It just happened to mesh together so nicely, so that’s what I’m kind of trying to do now — bring it all together.”

As Who Is KayCyy is still in progress, fans are biting at the bit for KayCyy to drop music at every turn. His comment sections are littered with “please drop” pleads as the “Stay Up” rapper’s process is as unique as his sound — making “special” tracks regardless of the desperation of his fan base.

“I love making new stuff,” he said. “I always try and make the most special joints I can make. I get excited about every song I make, but I get even more excited if I really think it’s a special one. You just know in the moment.”

Those moments are coupled with the spiritual experiences that have brought him to this point of creativity. His additions on DONDA’s “Keep My Spirit Alive” and “24” not only earned him a nomination at the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards, but pushed KayCyy to truly manifest the fruits of his labor. Speaking on the process behind DONDA — and how the YZY mogul instantly gravitated towards his graceful melodies — it’s hard to believe KayCyy is still just at the cusp of his career.

“Those two songs specifically [24 and Keep My Spirit Alive], definitely felt powerful when we made them because they’re gospel songs. Definitely tapped into that level spiritually… [Donda] was like a surprise for everyone involved. So, I didn’t know who was going to be on the album during all the listening parties. There were a lot of last-minute changes. When the album came out and my voice was on it… I’m thankful for the whole Donda experience.

After taking a few pages out of Ye’s book — always evolving and always thinking — Who Is KayCyy? not only looks to fully introduce the underground star to the public, but is poised to lift him to greater heights much “SOONR” than expected. He’s on to bigger and better things, remaining grounded, humble, blessed and soon enough, will become the star he was always meant to be.

His story, however, is still being written — penning it piece-by-piece with an open mind and open heart. While Who Is KayCyy? is poised to be an irreplaceable moment for the young rapper, it may shape the future of music as we know it.

“Feel free to create whatever you want,” he said. “The world is yours, you’re never too good to learn something new. Be completely open-minded to learning new things… always.”

“Stay Up” on KayCyy…