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  • Raheem Nelson

A Conversation With DAT KYD

Even though he has the word “kid” in his name, Connecticut rapper DAT KYD’s music is far from juvenile. From the old school samples that he uses in his songs, to the way he raps about life’s hardships, maturity exudes from his music. He dropped two EPs in 2019 (“Signs” and “Exploited Moth”) and continues to release singles, both solo and with fellow Westville Village members. We chatted over the phone about his clique, being a self-taught artist, and his experiences growing up in New Haven’s Westville neighborhood. My biggest takeaway from our chat: he firmly grasps the concept of duality and its importance in his life. Taylor: What’s up, man. How have you been spending your time these days? DAT KYD: I’ve been working. I’m still in school for biomedical engineering and I finish that in 2023. And of course, music. T: Dope. Yeah, let’s get into the music. With the world in such an interesting place right now, how are you continuing to make music and creativity a priority? D: I decided to get my own desktop. Started setting up the [music] program I use, Logic Pro X. My brother makes beats, so he just e-mail’s them to me. That’s why it’s good that I learned engineering on my own and how to record my own music. I can just do everything from home at this point because you can’t really go out anywhere. T: Being a self-taught musician and engineer, what has been your favorite part of the learning process? D: I’ve got to say the mixing part is the most fun. First off, you hear your product so then it’s like, what can you add to it? At that point, that’s where you can be as creative as you want, and you also can hear the things you want to change. To me it’s like an open canvas, you can do whatever you want to it. T: I notice that when you produce or pick your beats, you incorporate a lot of Soul and Jazz music into your craft. What is it that draws you to use those genres in your music? D: I feel like Soul and Jazz music are the most real to me on a spiritual level. I feel like Jazz music always brings you into a more focused mental state; it helps you think deeper. Soul music is just as real as it can get. It’s just the best way to express things. I always liked listening to it and adding hip hop and poetry. T: Ok, so, aside from Hip-Hop, Jazz, and Soul, what other genres of music are you into? D: I’d have to say House music. I love the beat production on it. It creates a vibe. If you can master that… it goes beyond lyrics. A house music track seems like it can run for 20 minutes straight and you’re just vibing to it. Like, it’s just perfect. Outside of that, I tried to explore a little bit of Rock. It didn’t go too well for me but, exploring it helped me understand it more. I try to look into different styles so I can see what I can take from it. T: I agree. That’s the best part of exploring other genres - being able to find new elements to add to your own music. One of your tracks that stood out to me was “Park (Ricky)” from your EP “Signs.” Could you tell me the backstory on that song? D: Ricky was my friend that I grew up with in Westville projects - also known as “the 2-5.” I grew up there with him since about 5th grade, up until… I’d have to say our freshman year of high school. That was a close friend to me. I hung out with him all the time. We’d play basketball, kickball, all types of stuff in the neighborhood. At that time the neighborhood was dangerous, but everyone in my age group was all friends and hung out. But then it came out later on - I believe it was his cousin that died from a gunshot. And then [his family] moved to Minnesota. When Ricky moved to Minnesota maybe about two weeks later, we found out that he was found dead. After that, maybe every month or so about two people would be shot [in Genesee Park], and it was just consistent down there. So that song was mostly about how I felt when he died, but I tried to give y’all a visual representation of this small area, which is literally just a park, and everyone dies there. T: That’s pretty heavy, man. So, after experiencing all this stuff while living in your neighborhood, what was it about Westville that made you feel like you had to name your record label after it? D: I feel like I had to name it exactly where I came from. I feel like this place defines who I am. I feel like my life had an interesting balance where I grew up in a two-parent household, we had money, but of course, we’re not the high class so there’s gonna be basic struggles in life. But the key was my home was relatively peaceful. But, I live right up the street from the projects. Anywhere I go I’m always in the hood surrounded by all types of people. So, my life was literally split between those two. So that’s why my music has a balance. There’s a peaceful side, and a side that knows about all this different criminal activity. So, I had to name it “Westville” because Westville is a dead center place. It’s in between Downtown New Haven and Woodbridge. Woodbridge would be considered peaceful. I don’t know if you’ve ever been over there but literally, you can cross one street, and now you’re in Woodbridge. Caught between that is a small street and its nothing but crime there. You go down the street, you’re in a safe neighborhood. So that’s why I had to name it that. T: Starting your own label and collective of artists is a big commitment. How do you prepare for starting your own empire? D: My approach was I mostly spoke to people that own businesses. The guy I work for now, my father - just older people I know who own businesses. I want to go at the record label from a business approach. When it comes to the people I make music with in a group, that’s “Westville Village.” If I could explain it better, it's like how TDE is the record label, and the group of artists count as “Black Hippy.” T: You collaborated with Westville Village artist J Trip on “Kingdom.” What’s the story behind the collab? D: Basically, I went to a studio with him and I was watching his session. He got to this beat and started working on the song. It worked because we have the same mission. The whole point of the song is every little thing we accomplish and build up, that’s our kingdom. No matter how small or how big. T: What’s next for you and Westville Village after the single drops or even after the quarantine lifts? D: Right now, we’re currently working on photoshoots. By the summer, hopefully, the quarantine’s over and we’ll begin doing music videos for songs that did well when we dropped them. Performance-wise, I was actually gonna perform at Café 9 in New Haven but that was canceled due to the quarantine. So right now, I guess we’re just on stand-by like everyone else. But we’re gonna keep making music regardless. Stream “Kingdom ft. J Trip”: Connect with DAT KYD Instagram: Connect with Westville Village Instagram:  

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