KYLE's having a pretty great 2018. Not only did he release his debut album, Light of Mine, back in May, but this Friday (August 24), he'll make his film debut in Netflix's The After Party. The film, which was produced by the late Lee “Q” O’Denat of WorldStarHipHop fame, stars the Ventura, California-repping KYLE as Owen, an aspiring rapper who, before a performance, links up (and gets high with) Wiz Khalifa (one of many rappers who make cameos in the film). While onstage, Owen has a bad reaction to Wiz's weed and vomits all over him before having a seizure. That situation goes viral, which all but ends Owen's dreams of being a rapper, until his homeboy/manager Jeff gets a plan to help Owen realize his dreams during one crazy night in New York City.
While he was in town for the VMAs, we got a chance to speak with KYLE about his experience working on the film. He shared insight on penning the verses his character spit and broke down which role he was auditioning for in Straight Outta Compton, but most importantly, KYLE explained why he felt The After Party, produced by Live Nation Productions, is more than just a hilarious hip-hop-fueled night out.
Talk about how the role first came about.
The producer, Jake Stein, initially reached out to me about being in this movie. The role first came to me [after] I met Jake Stein, who had initially met my manager Nolan; shoutout to my agent Dan Kim, too. I gotta plug everybody right now. [Laughs.] Then I met with the creator and director, Ian Edelman, who basically just talked to me about it and found a lot of similarities between me and my character, Owen. Obviously, the biggest one is we’re both rappers and we’ve both been 18-year-old aspiring rappers from the suburbs who have no idea on how to get there. Also, Blair Underwood plays my dad in the film, and he’s supposed to be a Marine, and my dad is a Marine, too. So there was, like, a lot of random similarities. It almost seems like they based it off me, which I would have said that’s the case, except he didn’t know me. He never met me.
This was already fleshed out before you guys met?
This was already fleshed out. This was Q from WorldStar’s baby. This was his idea, and this was his movie. It’s funny because I don’t think he knew anything about me, either. It just struck a nerve with me, especially [because] it made me feel 18 again. I remember grinding so hard during that time of my life, with no clear path. I didn’t know where I was gonna end up, and I remember the uncertainty in the self-belief it takes in order to follow a dream like that. I remember what it felt like to kind of have the odds against you, and so after reading through the script and laughing my ass off the entire time, that part really stuck with me.
Were you actively trying to get into movies?
Yeah. When I was in high school, I took drama class for a couple of months, and that kind of first drew my attention to acting because prior to doing drama class, I was hella shy, and it really taught me how to come out of my shell. Initially, it was something I was so drawn to. I was like, “Wow, this thing gave me a personality. I can talk to girls now. Acting is the dopest thing ever.” I really wanted to be in movies ever since then, so it’s always been a part of the plan, and I was trying for a minute, off and on. In 2013, when I put out my first mixtape project, called Beautiful Loser, I tried getting into some acting roles and they just weren’t sticking for whatever reason. I tried out for [the] NWA [film, Straight Outta Compton], but I wasn’t good enough, I guess.
What role were you...
I was supposed to be DJ Yella. [Laughs.] Honestly, I was killing it. I was so prepared. I knew all my lines. I had an accent and shit, even though he’s from L.A. and I’m from down there. It was so perfect. Then I showed up to the audition and I had a windbreaker on. I had an Old English hat that said, like, “Thug,” or something like that. I went in there and they were like, “Can you lose the hat?” So I took off the hat and my hair was all fucked up. Then they’re like, “Can you lose the windbreaker?” I was like, “Damn.” I took the windbreaker off. I had a pink T-shirt on. I was like, “Fuck. I lost. I lost the role right now. I can tell.” I tried a little bit, but this was the first one that I felt like... I think that’s a big part of acting. It has to feel right. I think that’s how you win the majority of the battle. The movies that end up being the most authentic are the ones that are so closely related to you, at least for me. So I think that’s why this one worked out.
Now the illest part of The After Party is you’ve got three or four verses that you spit in the film that are tied to the story. I’m gonna assume you wrote all those.
Oh, yeah. That’s the whole reason they hired a rapper to be the thing is so that they wouldn’t have to worry about that part. Funny enough, my lines and shit, they were like, “Memorize those, sure—where are these verses?” [Laughs.] Like, every single day, everybody was just hitting me about these verses. That’s the one part they could not supply. They couldn’t help me with that. They couldn’t teach me how to rap.
Because the verses have to stick to what’s going on in the film, did they edit a lot of it?
Nah. Those verses are all bar for bar what I said. There are parts of those verses that I went back to when I was K.i.D, my first rap name, and drew [on] what I was rapping about then because it’s so much more on point with what this movie was about. You know, when I was K.i.D and I was trying to make it and I was talking about how, “Damn, I haven’t made it yet,” and this and this and that. Some of those bars were so authentic to that that I just went back and took from those, and the last verse, when I’m rapping on top of the car, was all about how I was feeling at the moment. That one I could actually really relate to a lot of how I was feeling in my current career, about whether it’s “I know I have the talent to take this further” and “people are trying to hate on me”-type of shit.
How important do you think a film like this for hip-hop fans is?
That’s something that me and the director talked about a lot; everybody that was involved were all a little older, they’re in their 40s and stuff, so they come from a totally different era of hip-hop that a large majority of kids nowadays have no clue [about]. It’s crazy to think about because these are all such legendary, iconic figures to anybody that really studies hip-hop that it’s wild that a lot of people experiencing hip-hop right now and experiencing Lil Pumps and Tee Grizzleys and Desiigners and all those people might have no idea who DMX is, which is wild.
It seems like a very hip-hop problem. It’s not like that in rock.
It’s not like that in rock or other genres. That’s mainly because they’re not advancing as fast as us. I think that’s a good thing for us in a sense, because hip-hop is always developing so fast, but I think this movie is hella important because it almost feels like one of the first hip-hop family movies. That’s something I was noticing, whether it’s Harry Holzer [Ed. note: Jeff in the film], he’s legitimately a Lil Pump fan. Migos are his favorite rappers. The directors and the producers are on Wu-Tang and all that type of stuff. This movie is bridging that gap and connecting those two sides of hip-hop. It’s almost like the first hip-hop family movie where the dad is gonna go and be like, “Yo, oh my God, DMX!” And then the kids is gonna be like, “Oh my God, Desiigner!” in one movie, or “Oh my God, KYLE!”
You wore Shattered Backboard 1s throughout the film. How many pairs of those did you go through?
Just one. That’s what happened. That’s the one thing they let me keep from the wardrobe was those Shattered Backboards, and I wear them literally every day, to the point where they’re getting beat up. I mean, they’re completely beat now, but I kind of love them. I was going to wear them to the premiere, but they were just so ragged that I couldn’t do it, but I actually love those shoes. That’s my first time actually falling in love with a Jordan shoe. I never used to rock Jordans at all. Growing up, I really pretty much rocked Vans and Converse, and I hated the whole Jordan hype and I was trying to be anti it, and I put those on and I was like, “Wow.” This is the superior shoe right here.
When can we see KYLE in another film?
You know what? I have a script that I’m looking at. After seeing the film for a second time, I had no greater desire than to go and immediately shoot another film. This has by far been the most fulfilling experience of my life—equally, if not greater than, the feeling of making an incredible song or an incredible album. This movie has given me so much joy from filming it to going through the editing process and watching it and finishing it. I’ve never felt this way in my entire life. If I could leave here and shoot another movie right now, I would.
That's what’s up. Hopefully when people see it, they get that same vibe, especially the check writers.
Oh, definitely. The check writers, holler at me. I got you.