For the past five years, Ventura, California native KYLE—one of the 10 rappers selected by XXL for their 2017 Freshman cover—has released a steady stream of new music.
In addition to unleashing a handful of SoundCloud loosies, the 24-year-old also has two full-length projects (Beautiful Loser and Smyle) under his musical belt, but it wasn't until KYLE released the Lil Yachty-assisted "iSpy" this past December that his career really began to take off.
To date, the now 2x Platinum-certified single has racked up 274 million streams on Spotify, 74 million views on YouTube and peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 (it's currently No. 19 in its 25th week on the chart).
Considering "iSpy" is KYLE's first single release since agreeing to a joint label deal between his existing indie label (Indie-Pop) and a major (Atlantic Records), his sudden and rapid success isn't exactly a surprise. That is, unless you ask KYLE himself.
"'iSpy' has been the most unexpected event in my entire career," he explained to XXL. "I put out 'iSpy' just as something to give to my fans, it wasn't something I made happen myself."
While the song does belong to KYLE, he's right in that its success must be attributed to a variety of factors, including co-producers Ayo, Lege Kale and Superduperbrick, who created an incredibly catchy, "Broccoli"-esque beat that is so cheery it could put a smile on the face of Bill Belichick, and his record labels, whose power (and money) helped the song earn placements on a smattering of popular streaming service playlists.
"iSpy" is far from the first song released simply for the fans that went on to achieve massive, unforeseen success. Travis Scott's "Antidote" was released as a SoundCloud loosie "for the real fans" along with the note that the song wouldn't be included on his then-upcoming Rodeo album, and of course went on to become the biggest single of his career (though the sample cost him 50% of the record thanks to his for-the-fans release strategy). Drake's "Hotline Bling" was originally released as a loose remix of D.R.A.M.'s "Cha Cha" before blowing up as Drake's highest-charting single to date and transitioning to become the lead single from Views.
It took KYLE four years to reach the first unexpected event of his career. Hopefully, the second unexpected event happens much sooner.