Ventura’s Kyle is the most popular rapper from the 805 in the world today because he never quite fit in. Raised in the San Fernando Valley in a white household and a student at a mostly Hispanic and black school before moving to Ventura at the age of 12, Kyle mixed and mingled with all manner of communities and incomes, a part of each but belonging to none exclusively. Without a clear category for self-definition, Kyle found commonality in them all. “I understand how similar we are. We’re all confused; we think we’re different,” he said.
And so while bloggers, industry executives, and other rappers have dismissed him for his positivity and pastel colors — he wasn’t tough enough, wasn’t thug enough, wasn’t enough like the others — the fun-loving, video-gaming Kyle has won a several-million-strong spectrum of fans for being himself. “I’ve had to take a lot of backlash and questions from those types of people just ’cause of the person I am,” he said of his detractors in the hip-hop world. But he’s not stressing. “Being yourself is only hard if you’re afraid of what other people are gonna say about you. I’m not really worried about that. As long as I’m improving a life somewhere, that’s all that’s important to me.”
His newest album, SMYLE, in which fans “can expect complete happiness,” is all about life improvement, about smiling through the tough times as well as the good ones. Kyle lost his father-figure grandfather at an early age, and the profound loss taught him how to create an inner light when none seemed to wait at the tunnel’s end. It’s with an inner light that Kyle continues to shine upon crowds of every color, categories be damned, and he hopes his shows awaken a similar force in his fans. “There’s a superhero in everybody,” he said.
Kyle’s SMYLE drops Friday, October 2. He plays Saturday, November 28, at the Majestic Ventura Theater (26 S. Chestnut St., Ventura). Call 653-0721 or see venturatheater.net.
Fans have waited a long time for S.B. indie rockers Dante Elephante’s debut album, Anglo-Saxon Summer, but its gestation has been longer than anyone may realize: The title has been around since leader Ruben Zarate was a senior in high school, reading Anglo-Saxon poetry in English and daydreaming of releasing an album.
Jubilant with verbed-out verve and nostalgic melodies, the band’s debut showcases them as spiritual successors to the Pixies. On wistful songs like “Yung Gurls,” Dante is a maestro of the reveries and ardors of teen life and the sibling feelings that follow into young adulthood. Though sometimes pegged as surf music, it’s surf music in the Beach Boys sense, wistful for summers and crushes bygone and a little afraid of the waves. “We don’t care what the people say,” said guitarist and singer Kevin Boutin. “Rock ’n’ roll is here to stay.”
The band will be celebrating the release of its new album on Friday, October 2, at Velvet Jones with support from Clean Spill, Goldy, The Chores, and KCSB’s DJ Darla Bea. Though assembled through loose connections — Zarate found most of the others via Craigslist — few S.B. bands are as tight, few are such masters of melody, and few inspire as many dance parties. If you have yet to see Dante Elephante, do yourself a favor and do so now, before they get any bigger.
Dante Elephante’s CD-Release Show is on Friday, October 2, at 8 p.m. at Velvet Jones (423 State St.). Call 965-8676 or see velvet-jones.com.