Kyle | Subterranean | Hip-Hop | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Sun., May 3, 7 p.m. 2015
Price: $18, $15 in advance
You’d be forgiven for adding Kyle Harvey to a growing list of post-Childish Gambino rappers. On his 2013 debut, Beautiful Loser (Super Duper/Homeboy Music Group), the MC formerly known as K.I.D. seamlessly blends hip-hop with scattershot iterations of Top 40 pop while casually calling out video-game and geek culture—and like Gambino before him, he struggles to balance the pains of his nerdy past with the realities of getting ass in the present. In comparing Harvey to Gambino, though, what’s missing is the former’s ambitious stab at—and thorny, uneven presentation of—weighty issues of class and race (which only elevates his pop potential). The most serious thing about Beautiful Loser is its element of fun, and though Harvey can grandstand about his desire to make it big as a loser—albeit one with an unconventionally handsome mug—he’s best when infusing his buoyant tracks with a pop frisson. Harvey comes closest to having his cake and eating it too on “Sex and Super Smash Bros,” as he juggles self-deprecating lines about his own sense of importance with earnest, carefree singing about, well, sex and a popular Nintendo game. Unlike his songs where women merely act as a mirror to reflect his insecurities or desires, this one manages to make two activities he desires appeal to more than just himself. Harvey’s also a whiz at playing the prankster. A send-up to the GOOD Music banger “Mercy,” the track “Bang” skews the opulence of the Kanye-and-company original and plays loose and limber with lines about social media and rappers’ egos—and best of all, Big Sean isn’t there to ruin the fun. —Leor Galil
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