Kyle Rapps
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Kyle Rapps

New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
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Music

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"Kyle Rapps all over Nahright"

Nahright has covered a lot of Kyle Rapps' music - Nahright


"Kyle Rapps all over 2dopeboyz"

2dopeboyz has extensively covered Kyle Rapp's music. - 2dopeboyz


"Kyle Rapps in Village Voice"

Feature of Kyle Rapps in Village Voice - Village Voice


"Kyle Rapps In Brooklyn Vegan"

Big feature on Kyle Rapps in Brooklyn Vegan - Brooklyn Vegan


"Ruby Hornet Interview"

The image of a poet is often that of a lonely and isolated drunk, or perhaps a love torn romantic, pen in hand, rage in eyes, and chain on desk. Maybe you're more familiar with the poet as the guy or girl that, TALKS like THIS about THINGS. Maybe your poet is one of those cool race-ambiguous dudes that favors jazz clubs and has a large vinyl collection without turntables. Whatever image pops in your head I'm confidant is saying that the guy or girl you're thinking of right now is broke. As everyone knows, there is no money in poetry...Yet. But thanks to a great idea, clever marketing, and hard work, Black Skeptik is a lot closer to changing that.

"People always said it was a pipe dream to be a full time poet....but never that. I think poets are as important in society as doctors, lawyers, manufacturers, etc. And I won't rest until we restore our rightful place, until kids can say 'I wanna be a poet when I grow up," and don't get scoffed at," he told RH First Looker Kosha Dillz during their interview. Read the rest of this First Look to find out how a Microsoft grant may even the playing field for poets, why Black Skeptik still gets starstruck, and who would win in a Kanye-Tupac-Danzig altercation.

RubyHornet: What is poetry for those who don't know...and how does Black Skeptik play a part?

Black Skeptik: Poetry is verbal jazz...the lyrical expression of one's soul....and all that other deep stuff. Black Skeptik weaves poetry with Hip Hop in a way that Walt Whitman, and Big L would both be proud of.

RubyHornet: Where does mayhem come into play?

Black Skeptik: Project Mayhem was a subversive revolutionary group in the movie "Fight Club" who's objective was world domination. Mayhem Poets' directive is to take over the globe with rhythm and words. . .until Psychiatry is replaced by "Freestyle Therapy" and Haiku's are considered legal tender.

RubyHornet: How did you come into the poetry rap game? Is that a suitable name?

Black Skeptik: I fell in love with Hip Hop culture at age 9, selling snicker bars for school fundraiser's and spending the money on Big Daddy Kane and G Rap tapes. It wasn't till 18, when I found my first poetry open mics in Trenton, NJ. The diversity of ethnicity and style of the scene is what attracted me. The crowd was extremely supportive...like family. This support and celebration of diversity brought me out of an addictive, street mentality; and into a place where I wanted to let the world in. It gave me a place in the world. So rap was my love and poetry my savior...it felt natural to combine them.

Black Skeptik



RubyHornet: Your approach to music is different. Do you think combining an album with beats and spoken word will capture crowds that are not so typical of the "Hip Hop" genre?

Black Skeptik: Yes. I think it's easy for a lot of people to be turned off by traditional stigmas of Hip Hop, both content-wise as well as aesthetic-wise. My goal is to take people beyond the realm of what is considered Hip Hop, and access them with themes and sounds they can relate to, no matter what their background. Then slip a lyrically driven rap song in there that gets their head noddin', posteriors shakin', etc.....Thus making poetry their gateway drug to Hip Hop.

RubyHornet: Tell us more about how you won a national contest from Microsoft.

Black Skeptik: This concept of taking over the earth with poetry first had to manifest as a business plan, for as slam poetry great Taalam Acey says "a revolution will not work without factoring in the greed of man". So we entered Mayhem Poets in a "best small business in America " competition sponsored by Microsoft. Our plan was to set up performance poetry training centers all over the country, starting in NYC, where aspiring poets learn how to market their talent and school kids are bussed in to witness performances by said poets at the center. We called it Slam Chops. Of course we pitched our business plan in Hip Hop poetry format...(here's a link to the youtube clip of the pitch). We beat out some fashion team, and an organic spa idea, and won the

100k prize....with poetry.

RubyHornet: So, you're telling me your poems made $100,000?

Black Skeptik: People always said it was a pipe dream to be a full time poet....but never that. I think poets are as important in society as doctors, lawyers, manufacturers, etc. And I won't rest until we restore our rightful place, until kids can say 'I wanna be a poet when I grow up," and don't get scoffed at.

RubyHornet: What's up with Regis and Kelly?

Black Skeptik: I don't know, oh...ha. You mean the Today Show. Yeah, they announced the winner of the Microsoft award on there so we got some national TV shine. Al Roker was crazy hyper and called me "Lyle."

RH Columns / RH First Look Friday, 13 March 2009 15:28
RH First Look: Black Skeptik
By Kosha Dillz
PDF | Print | E-mail

Black Skeptik

The image of a poet is often that of a lonely and isolated drunk, or perhaps a love torn romantic, pen in hand, rage in eyes, and chain on desk. Maybe you're more familiar with the poet as the guy or girl that, TALKS like THIS about THINGS. Maybe your poet is one of those cool race-ambiguous dudes that favors jazz clubs and has a large vinyl collection without turntables. Whatever image pops in your head I'm confidant is saying that the guy or girl you're thinking of right now is broke. As everyone knows, there is no money in poetry...Yet. But thanks to a great idea, clever marketing, and hard work, Black Skeptik is a lot closer to changing that.

"People always said it was a pipe dream to be a full time poet....but never that. I think poets are as important in society as doctors, lawyers, manufacturers, etc. And I won't rest until we restore our rightful place, until kids can say 'I wanna be a poet when I grow up," and don't get scoffed at," he told RH First Looker Kosha Dillz during their interview. Read the rest of this First Look to find out how a Microsoft grant may even the playing field for poets, why Black Skeptik still gets starstruck, and who would win in a Kanye-Tupac-Danzig altercation.

RubyHornet: What is poetry for those who don't know...and how does Black Skeptik play a part?

Black Skeptik: Poetry is verbal jazz...the lyrical expression of one's soul....and all that other deep stuff. Black Skeptik weaves poetry with Hip Hop in a way that Walt Whitman, and Big L would both be proud of.

RubyHornet: Where does mayhem come into play?

Black Skeptik: Project Mayhem was a subversive revolutionary group in the movie "Fight Club" who's objective was world domination. Mayhem Poets' directive is to take over the globe with rhythm and words. . .until Psychiatry is replaced by "Freestyle Therapy" and Haiku's are considered legal tender.

RubyHornet: How did you come into the poetry rap game? Is that a suitable name?

Black Skeptik: I fell in love with Hip Hop culture at age 9, selling snicker bars for school fundraiser's and spending the money on Big Daddy Kane and G Rap tapes. It wasn't till 18, when I found my first poetry open mics in Trenton, NJ. The diversity of ethnicity and style of the scene is what attracted me. The crowd was extremely supportive...like family. This support and celebration of diversity brought me out of an addictive, street mentality; and into a place where I wanted to let the world in. It gave me a place in the world. So rap was my love and poetry my savior...it felt natural to combine them.

Black Skeptik



RubyHornet: Your approach to music is different. Do you think combining an album with beats and spoken word will capture crowds that are not so typical of the "Hip Hop" genre?

Black Skeptik: Yes. I think it's easy for a lot of people to be turned off by traditional stigmas of Hip Hop, both content-wise as well as aesthetic-wise. My goal is to take people beyond the realm of what is considered Hip Hop, and access them with themes and sounds they can relate to, no matter what their background. Then slip a lyrically driven rap song in there that gets their head noddin', posteriors shakin', etc.....Thus making poetry their gateway drug to Hip Hop.

RubyHornet: Tell us more about how you won a national contest from Microsoft.

Black Skeptik: This concept of taking over the earth with poetry first had to manifest as a business plan, for as slam poetry great Taalam Acey says "a revolution will not work without factoring in the greed of man". So we entered Mayhem Poets in a "best small business in America " competition sponsored by Microsoft. Our plan was to set up performance poetry training centers all over the country, starting in NYC, where aspiring poets learn how to market their talent and school kids are bussed in to witness performances by said poets at the center. We called it Slam Chops. Of course we pitched our business plan in Hip Hop poetry format...(here's a link to the youtube clip of the pitch). We beat out some fashion team, and an organic spa idea, and won the

100k prize....with poetry.

RubyHornet: So, you're telling me your poems made $100,000?

Black Skeptik: People always said it was a pipe dream to be a full time poet....but never that. I think poets are as important in society as doctors, lawyers, manufacturers, etc. And I won't rest until we restore our rightful place, until kids can say 'I wanna be a poet when I grow up," and don't get scoffed at.

RubyHornet: What's up with Regis and Kelly?

Black Skeptik: I don't know, oh...ha. You mean the Today Show. Yeah, they announced the winner of the Microsoft award on there so we got some national TV shine. Al Roker was crazy hyper and called me "Lyle."


RubyHornet: So. do Mayem Poets ball out of control with all the cash?

Black Skeptik: Nah....all the money gets re-invested into the business. I did cop a nice Sony AR-11 HD video cam though primarily used to film stuff we can put on youtube, etc.

RubyHornet: Education has been a major uplift to your business. What do you say is more spiritually fulfilling, rapping on stage, rocking for 7 year-olds, or performing for prisoners?

Black Skeptik: Wow...spiritually fulfilling...hmm....each one inspires me in different ways. When we're doing a show on stage it feels like I'm possessed, like my ancestors are exorcising their struggles, joys, and wisdom through me. There is no feeling like it. Rocking for young kids is ill because you get to see them experience a dope punchline for the first time, or connect with their classmates on a deeper level than they ever have, so that's like some warm fuzzy ish. To perform for prisoners is especially gratifying because they're mad appreciative. They know you're not getting no dough to come check them, and they also like to share their work and stay in touch through letters, etc. Youth Detention Centers can get rough though, a lot of those kids are still active in gang sets, and I remember one time I started freestyling and things almost got violent. A powerful poem can always bring their focus back though.

RubyHornet: What was high school like for Mayhem?

Black Skeptik: I was lost in high school, felt out of place. My father had recently left and we were broke. My mom was real nice at budgeting so we always ate, but that also meant compromising on the designer apparel. My fake Tims got clowned on the regular. There was no real platform to express my struggles and I fell prey to drug addiction. Through the fog though, I always felt inspired by my creative writing class, and my underground rap tapes. I really think those were the life rafts that kept me afloat during the dark times.

RubyHornet: Tell us about your recent collaboration with KRS One..and Busta Rhymes...and Blockhead...And the last elementary school you rocked...

Black Skeptik: First of all, KRS is my favorite rapper of all time. So, when I sent his manager a copy of the "Rent" song and he got back and said Kris wanted to rock on it, I just sat on the couch with a huge smile for like 6 straight hours. When I came through to KRS' studio, he was already in the booth, spittin the verse on my track! wow...Then he came out and we chilled for about an hour. I'm not gonna lie, I was starstruck the entire time. But he dropped some industry jewels on me and brought a sincere and intelligent energy that was truly Hip Hop (footage of us in his studio)....The Busta thing took place while he was on the set of a video shoot for his song "Bass." I stepped to him on the humble and asked if he would kick some real talk directed at shady landlords that I could record and use for an outro to "Rent." Dude was mad cool about it...so I recorded it with my hand held condenser mic (thanks to the contest).....and that was that...I always dug Blockhead's beats since Aesop Rock's "Music for Earthworms". I contacted his manager on some, 'don't have a huge budget, long time fan ish.' He played some of my stuff for Blockhead who gave me a very reasonable price and his blessing to rock over his production. A good look all the way around...The last Elementary school we rocked was in Toronto a couple weeks ago. It was in an area that is considered their "hood." A diverse crowd, a lot of Middle Eastern kids, some African-Canadians, and a few Jim Carey / Mike Myers lookin youngsters. It was dope.


RubyHornet: Now tell me about Scott Raven and Mason...your partners in Mayhem.

Black Skeptik: These guys are creative superhighways. Scott is an extremely tall, theatre trained, Weird-Al lovin' Jewish cat, ex frat boy, ex high jumper. He's the most inspired guy I've ever known. Not afraid to be the only white dude chillin with the most gulley brothas an sistas and just make them love him....Mason is a genius, 1500 SAT scoring, science brain with Hip Hop consciousness. The guy has poems about biology that could confuse Darwin, while simultaneously entertaining an 8 year old to death. They're both from Jersey.

RubyHornet: What advice can you give the upcoming bands and artists who are trying to go the next level? Give us 7 words.

Don't be afraid of success. Make mistakes.

RubyHornet: You have been to NACA conventions...can you tell us about that?

Black Skeptik: Yeah...NACA is a worthwhile investment if you wanna get college gigs. It's basically a spring break weekend for college programming nerds who book entertainment for their schools. I think a lot of cats sleep on this because it cost money to submit for a showcase, and you might not get picked. We spent about $2,000 (of hard earned restaurant waitering loot) over 2 years and didn't get a chance to showcase until year 3...when we showcased at the national convention and got 80 dates booked....a worthwhile investment.

RubyHornet: This a chicago site..what does Ruby Hornet mean to you?

Black Skeptik: Ruby Hornet gives dope artists a change to get exposure, while educating the community about the essential things happening in the culuture that many mainstream sites are too busy meeting bottomlines to pay attention to. Big Up.

RubyHornet: Your last experience in the Chi was...

Black Skeptik: In 2001 I was on a road trip promoting my poetry, and I went to The Green Mill (birthplace of slam poetry), some poetry spot on the southside where I ran into Sonia Sanchez, and the DuSable Art Museum where I ran in to Fred Hampton Junior. Crazy fortuitious encounters. Then I got lost in this suburb...Wilmette... and ran into this enormous place of worship known as the Bahai Temple....apparently they have one on each continent, and this was the North American headquarters...bugged out.

RubyHornet: Kanye West, Tupac, or Danzig?

Black Skeptik: The only thing I know about Danzig is that the kid in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the movie (the original one....not that cartoon remake garbage) was rocking a Danzig shirt as he was trying to join the foot clan. Now, I'll put Tupac over Kanye. His body of work is bar-none, and his energy was much more potent. However, Kanye gets his p's for being much more versatile in the music game (production, songwriting, singing and emceeing).

RubyHornet: Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, or Saul williams?

Black Skeptik: Saul Williams ( circa 1999-2000), Greenday (I like that "Time of Your Life" joint), Then Smashing Pumpkins.

RubyHornet: Did you and KRS aka teach, link more in rapping or education?

Black Skeptik: Yeah.....I was blessed enough to link up with the Teacher in LA to shoot the video for "Rent." This time I was slightly less starstruck, but increasingly awestruck at how he keeps it fresh and vital after so many years in the game. Amazing cat.

RubyHornet: We know poets rep like rappers..shout out and plug here in your best spoken keyboard typing!

Black Skeptik: Big up my mother Barbara....I miss you mom! My brother Ben, my pops, Granparents,....shouts to Teresa K, Triznathaniel, Kosha Dillz, Silent Knight, Nabil, Ray Contour, Complex, KRS ONE, Jean Grae, Prince Po, Cymarshall Law, and "every teacher that said i'd never amount to nothing." Check me at www.myspace.com/blackskep as well as twiiter.com/blacskeptik. Check Mayhem at www.mayhempoets.com. - Ruby Hornet


Photos

Bio

Kyle Rapps is a Harlem based rapper and producer living in Mexico City.   He is known for his deep voice and his personal approach to lyricism.   Since 2009 Kyle has consistenlty toured internationally with The Mayhem Poets, won $100k Microsoft Grant in a business competition, and released 2 Studio Albums.   Notable collaborations:  KRS ONE Action Bronson, Murs, Talib Kweli, Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire, Homeboy Sandman