An Interview with Kye Colors

Kye Colors opening for Famous Dex in May
Unless you follow Shuttlecock closely or are a student at Hogan Preparatory Academy in Kansas City, you may not know who Kye Colors is. If everything works out the way he plans, that will all be different by the end of 2017. Colors is a 16 year-old rapper and producer who is full of foresight, plots his move meticulously, and possess talent beyond his years. He has also assembled a collective team called Good Colors that is full of secret weapons. The disco-loving wunderkind blends a strange mix of influences with some of the most infectious energy you'll find in the metro and ends up creating what should -- and hopefully will -- be considered Kansas City classics. Read his first full-length interview below.

Tell us about your upbringing and where you're from.
My name is J'kye Joel Slatton. I'm a 16 year-old artist and producer for the Good Colors music collective. I was born and bred in Kansas City, Missouri. I was raised on the Southern parts of the town. Both parents, still married. Two sisters, I love them so dearly, they're a big force behind me. I'm very down to earth and I'm all about spreading love. I've been through a lot of hateful moments and tough lessons. I guess that shaped me to be a good person.

When did you first start making music?
Rap-wise, I made this hook one time over my aunt and uncle's house when I was five. They liked it, and I loved the thought of rapping ever since. My cousin J Ova in Huntsville, Alabama makes music, so every time I'd go down there I would listen to his music and record vocals on his laptop playing around. Me and his younger brother would have rap battles whenever I visited there. It was something I looked forward to every time. I also wrote this rap in the 1st grade (very explicit). I got suspended for it (very lit bars were in it; they couldn't handle it). Me and a close friend had a tag team rap group in the 5th grade. We would hold little performances on the playground. In the 6th grade I was in another rap group with two of my best friends. [It was the] first time I went and actually recorded in a studio. I remember one time we had our first performance at a venue called Walnic's Place where they would hold parties every other Friday for kids our age. Then in the 8th grade I got back in the studio with them and we had did freestyles and the kids at school loved it. Then I went solo in 2014 and dropped "Sweet Chin Music." And that was a starting point of all this.

Production-wise, my uncle introduced me to that side of music. I didn't take it serious until I was 14. I used to play around on softwares such as FL Studios and Reason. I never did get the hang of Reason. When I first started, nobody believed in my production work in the beginning until I met Donnell and Rory. They kept me pushing in the beginning.

How did you meet Mike 2x, Farian, and Donnell and how did you begin working with them?
I met 2x in the 8th grade. I started going to school inner city instead of where I stayed because things was getting wild on my side of town around 2012. I heard him freestyling and became best friends from then on and introduced him to a studio and built a friendship. Then we started Good Colors. I met Donnell over networking in winter of 2014. We started working and exchanging songs.  I used to see Farian out a lot in earlier times. Mostly at the homies' house around the corner so I knew who he was already.  But Donnell told me he rap so I came through his crib one time, he showed me the Wonka Shop which is currently the GC headquarters (Farian's shed) and we been working ever since then.

What's the meaning behind the name Kye Colors, your Good Colors branding, and the color imagery used in your lyrics?
Well, I'd use to write my raps in crayon in elementary school (I believe I wrote in crayon on the one I got suspended for). I also believe color is the key element to entertainment in life. Without color, life is boring. Also my personality is vibrant and colorful; happy in other words. My government name is J'kye. So yeah, Kye Colors. I chose the name Good Colors because it shows that the team in whole will bring some "Color" (interesting elements) to the table whether it's music, art, merch, or performance. And it will be a "good" product for you to feed into. Also, like all great and heavy succeeding businesses, I feel as if that's a catchy name to go by. Just say this and you'll see what I'm talking about: "Damn, I want to buy some Good Colors." See what I mean? Then when I use color in my music I'm painting a picture with the song. The beat could be very hyper, upbeat, or nostalgic, soulful or reminiscent to set the environment of a piece by me. The lyrics are straightforward and brutally honest often, but at the same time if you look deep into a verse from my music you'll realize my words are off the wall (RIP MJ).

Why do you always have the juice?
I watched a lot of wrestling growing up. Every wrestler had something. John Cena's spinning belt, DX's lime green theme, Jeff Hardy's face paint, Boogeyman's worms, Mr. Kennedy's microphone. I could go on all day. Just know that Kye Colors has the juice. If I don't have a carton of juice with me at my show (non-alcoholic guys, come on, I'm 16) I might not have an A+ performance that evening.

How do you come across the samples you use for your instrumentals?
I pick my samples myself. I listen to '80's and '70's soul and pop music more than I listen to today's hype beast hip-hop. I listen and ask myself and ask, " Would this turn out a classic if I touched it?" when picking.

How does it feel to be the youngest member of Kansas City's upcoming wave of hip-hop artists?
Love and hate situation with this one. I feel pressured. I can't put out any BS or I'll be underestimated by new and fresh listeners who don't grasp a full experience of Kye Colors. I love it though, it makes me more interesting as an artist. I'm young and still growing; can't be mad at that.

What is your relationship with Gee Watts like? 
Very groovy. That's my big brother man. He says he's a fan, I say, "No, I'm your fan," [laughs]. He even drove to a date across town and picked me up. That loyalty right there is so ill to me. Mad love for that man. We got plans on where we buying our first mansions. That's definitely a big brother.

Do you think your age makes you more open minded in regards to your style and who you are influenced by?
I believe that age is only a number in this music game. All of my life experiences, environment, trials and tribulations, adventures, all real life events that happened will be inside of my music no matter what. I'm going to always speak my mind and whatever I'm feeling.

All of the work you had done for your upcoming album recently got erased. What was your reaction to that and what is your outlook moving forward?
I was heartbroken. I failed many people. This isn't the first time starting from square one, so I just have to boss up and make way better music. I'll take better care of trying to storage my work. I had some culture pushers on there too, man. Sad. Difficult to deal with.

"Good (Extended)" included you touching on some serious personal topics. What do you think people should take away from that track?
Be brutally honest with themselves. Address your thoughts and see if you need help. If you can face your personal battles and just realize what you're going through then you "good."

Famous Dex came close to using one of your instrumentals on a mixtape. What other artists would you enjoy hearing rap over your production?
Tyler, The Creator, Pusha T, Bas, Rae Sremmurd, Hit Boy, Travis Scott, SuperDuperKyle, and M.I.A. Love their music. I feel like I could add some color to a song by them.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Mad moves with the production. Finish the album. Produce projects for Farian, 2x, and for my blood sister Mia Joell. GC's plans for the year is release a project and we're going to be holding a big show soon. Stay tuned for that. Clothing collab with my brother from another Wuz hopefully. Many more amazing things, but it's best to surprise everyone. Also will be starting a t-shirt line dedicated to peace on violence around the world.

What will it take for 2016 to feel successful to you? What about 2017?
1. Get the exposure everyone is saying I deserve. Not even just me, all the quality artists in my city. I have to start with myself though and look in the mirror and make change out a dollar.
2. GC will be one of the biggest forces to ever come out of KC. I'm not even going to sugar coat on that. Good Colors will grow tremendously as a music collective. Mark my word.
3. Finish what I start.

In 2017 I will release my first EP where I will not be rapping. I'm bringing back disco and soul music. Why not? All original pieces as well.

Any last thoughts?
I just want to thank Shuttlecock Music Magazine, my supporters, the GC camp, my family, and God. I couldn't be moving this hard without you all. Shoutout to MoHustle, Asid Luxury, Mali, Caviart. Hey mom, hey dad! Ya son doing it big. Grandmother, I know you watching me and I just hope you're proud of me. Shoutout to Tedo Morris out in Atlanta, Ova! My sister Nae Nae! We lit!


Follow Kye Colors on Twitter and listen to his music on SoundCloud

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