KYLE’s ‘It’s Not So Bad’ is just that, not bad at all

Most mainstream audiences were introduced to KYLE with 2016’s megahit “iSpy” featuring Lil Yachty, which became a staple for college bars and parties across the country. With “It’s Not So Bad,” he’s here to remind Hollywood why he still deserves the same attention.

“It’s Not So Bad” follows up the rapper’s well-received debut album “Light of Mine” and 2020’s “See You When I’m Famous.” The 28 year-old, L.A.-based rapper is known outside of music for his breakout, lead role in 2018 with the Netflix original “The After Party,” as well as the 2021 true crime drama “Cherry” with Spiderman star Tom Holland.

In a world where moody pop-rap officially took over, KYLE births a project stacked with lighter-hearted, chirpy pop tracks, deviating from today’s norm. “It’s Not So Bad” is his most experimental project to date, as he explores genres reminiscent of The Weeknd, Kid Cudi or even the late Prince.

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The album opens with some of its strongest tracks, such as the project’s second single “Sunday.” Well fit for contemporary R&B radio, the track is blissfully smooth, one of the sweet spots on the project where KYLE exhibits his respectable vocal agility for someone typically well-versed in hip hop.

“Perfect,” the album’s second track and third single, deviates from the sound that KYLE is most known for. Straying away from rap almost altogether, “Perfect” serves as a club-prepared disco anthem detailing his admiration for the girl that captures his eye. With lyrics about spending cash in the islands and showering his girlfriend with gifts, this single’s subject matter matches the equally rich production.

“Love’s Theme Song” is nostalgia at its finest, fit with an acoustic guitar and light piano keys delicate enough to elevate the song’s theme. This track is reminiscent of his earlier work, forgotten on his past two major label releases.

Features from Craig David and Dougie F, on “Unreplaceable” and “Optimistic” respectively, feel surprising by the time they arrive. Not one for unnecessary collaborations prevalent in rap music, KYLE sounds safe alongside his collaborators, channeling both of their sounds to uplift his craft.

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The album’s closing lullaby “Sleepyhead” features a trend in music out of the box for a mainstream rapper. With a distorted vocal performance popularized by the hyperpop wave of Charli XCX, SOPHIE and A.G. Cook, KYLE combines this trend with his syrupy production and humming to invent a track equally heartwarming and refreshing.

“It’s Not So Bad” feels like the first time KYLE was allowed to grow artistically since signing to Atlantic Records in 2017. A transition that hopefully grows into something even more effortless in the future, the album serves a reintroduction to what made KYLE popular.

Don’t just take our word for it. Listen to it here.

Featured image taken from Instagram: @superduperkyle