KYLE points to the top row of the student center. - Arts and Entertainment Editor/Gregg Johnson

KYLE is a hip-hop artist who was blessed by being plucked out of obscurity thanks to the hit song “iSpy,” and on Friday, April 26, Rowan’s Hollybash was blessed with hearing that song in a live performance.

The Rowan students greeted him, as well as all of the other performers such as IV Jay and DJ Justin, with spectacular energy – especially considering this year’s Hollybash was in the student center.

Sixty kids were packed in the pit, with another hundred on the stairs and on the balconies above. All had high intensity for SuperDuperKyle.

Many students, however, didn’t quite resonate with an obscure artist whose lengthy discography has only one smash-hit. Junior biology major Stephanie Ibe, for example, did not recognize KYLE for any songs other than “iSpy.”

“I like his song ‘iSpy’,” Ibe said. “Honestly I dont know any other songs.”

KYLE’s direction in music should have been aided greatly by the amount of radio time he received in 2017, but it instead seems to have been thwarted.  

“He’s a one-hit wonder,” sophomore physics major Josh Nabbie said. “But in this generation, people hold on to anything they can.”

It seems that the name attached to a song with upwards of, in KYLE’s case, 303 million plays on Youtube will get recognition in crowds, but people won’t actually delve into the rest of that artist’s discography. KYLE has 8.3 million monthly Spotify listeners. If those 303 million Youtube plays are divided by the number of months it has been since “iSpy” has dropped, those numbers are approximately the same.

This means that most of KYLE’s “fans” are simply listeners of incredibly popular music that tops charts – which is a shame when his newest album “Light of Mine” provides such a deep look into his life, struggles and journey of coming into the spotlight that shines on him today.

And this spotlight complex leaves KYLE with a dilemma. Everyone in the stands when he’s on tour, including those in the Rowan pit, know all the words to “iSpy” and some of his other bigger hits like “Hey Julie!” and “Playinwitme.” 

“I don’t really know KYLE apart fromiSpyso I’m here to learn more about how he is as a performer,” Ibe added.  

KYLE could have chosen to either please everyone who knows his big hits, or he could have provided the listeners with memorable experiences by performing tracks that people haven’t heard, where he pours his heart out over synth sounds and hi-hats.

This is a sentiment that senior computer science major Matthew Halloran and Fall 2018 marketing and supply chain logistics graduate Daniel DeFontes would both agree.

“I like the album ‘SMYLE’,” DeFontes said. Not a single song off this sophomore mixtape was played for the Rowan students.  

“My favorite song is ‘Rodeo’,” Halloran said. “He didn’t play it but…” he trailed off.

It seems that KYLE is blessed and cursed with his versatility in music.  He has created an endless cycle for himself where he collaborates with big artists to participate in chart-topping hits, but then when given the ability to perform the fuller bodies of work that detail his struggles and pains in life, he chooses to keep playing his most famous songs for the audience.

This brings in even more royalties for those already-popular songs, and more monthly listeners. But those listeners are in such a concentrated area of his discography that he doesn’t exactly end up having more “fans” the more he performs.

KYLE attracts more listeners than most artists in similar places in their career, so the real question is: why is no one listening to his music?

More importantly, why don’t the people who do listen to his music get to experience their favorite artist and get a real feel for them? Halloran and DeFontes both have resonated with the artist for upwards of three years, and yet when KYLE comes to their school, they get to experience little to none of that connection over the course of a two-hour set.

DJ Justin’s entire job was to play music that everyone has heard, like “Sicko Mode” and “Mo Bamba.” The main artist should maintain the same level of entertainment, but should be able to branch out and allow the audience to feel something other than an extreme EDM-realm of hype.

Artists like KYLE, who haven’t necessarily made the “big-time” but definitely have their foot in the giant door that is the music industry, should not only be allowed to, but encouraged to come to venues like Rowan University’s pit and give a group of a few hundred college students a real, raw experience of who they are as a musician, performer and person.

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