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The brilliant and vivid world of Kye Colors, KC hip-hop’s youngest wonder

Solo freestyle: Kye Colors

Barely old enough for an intermediate driver’s license, Kye Colors, 16, is already making waves in KC as a well-respected hip-hop producer and artist.
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Barely old enough for an intermediate driver’s license, Kye Colors, 16, is already making waves in KC as a well-respected hip-hop producer and artist.

Kye Colors (@kyecolors): The Future

Age: 16

Home: Kansas City

The adage is that hip-hop is a young man’s game, but even that has an age limit. Hip-hop has almost always been populated largely by artists in their early to late 20s, occasionally by those in their late teens, and rarely by anyone younger.

This is what makes Kye Colors (J’kye Slatton) so fascinating. Barely old enough for an intermediate driver’s license, Colors is already making waves in KC as a well-respected hip-hop artist. This isn’t older guys being nice to the little kid, either. Colors has shown — through both his raps and production (he produces most of his material and has handled production for a half dozen other local artists) — that he’s not afraid of work.

He began writing raps as early as age 5, usually in crayon. It was this fact and his vibrant personality that helped him choose his rap name and the name of his label (yes, he founded a label, Good Colors, with fellow KC artists Farian, Mike2x and Donnell).

“I’d describe my music as very colorful and vibrant,” Colors says.

In truth, Colors describes everything in hues, even moods: “You can feel orange, you can feel yellow, you can feel brown. It’s like an emotion,” he says. “If you ask someone how their day’s going they can go, ‘Eh, a little purplish.’ On Mondays I feel dark brown. Fridays I might feel yellow in the morning, lightning blue at night.”

When Colors released the “00” EP early last year, the color around town was red hot or green envy. The nine-track project had such a wide scope of production, vision and lyrical content it was hard to believe it was made by a 15-year-old. Sampling funk and disco (Colors loves old school music “way more than the new stuff”), he tackled a range of topics: relationships, ageism, turning down record deals and the anxiety of trying to take his career to new heights.

A month ago he partnered with his label mate Donnell to produce the two-track “Unbreakable” EP, where he sampled ’70s soul singer Eddie Kendricks and rapper Ja Rule. The EP is short but flawless, showcasing just how much more Colors has grown in the past year.

“It takes me forever to write or produce a song, it’s frustrating,” he says. “But music right now is repetitive, and I don’t ever want to sound or act like anyone else.”

Essential tracks: “Get Right,” “Ready,” “Off Me (instrumental)”

Aaron Randle: 816-234-4060, @aaronronel

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