KayCyy has perfected the art of ambiance. Since his standout appearance on Ye’s Donda album, the 25-year-old has blended lithe, emotive vocals with sleekly immersive soundscapes for anthems that are as engrossing as they are stylish. With flexible musicality and an aesthete’s sense of atmosphere, he can oscillate between dystopian trap and emotional R&B, a range that’s granted him millions of fans and a reputation as one of the most inventive new voices in rap — and he’s only getting started. The BuVision/Columbia Records artist continues his journey with “My Jeans,” a dreamy love song swimming in nostalgia and raw feeling.

Flaunting his reedy tenor, KayCyy lays bare his emotions, sinking into an entrancing sample of Brainstorm’s “Waiting for Someone” as his lover’s declaration spills out like a teardrop: “The girl of my dreams, but you make it feel real.” Coasting over tranquil bass, he sifts through a sense of longing before submitting to it altogether: “Make it worth my while / Make me need to stay here for awhile / Never out of style / Everything about you is so wow.” With its retro inspiration and colorful production flourishes, “My Jeans” is at once of the past and the present. More importantly, it’s an earthier sound, a departure from the surrealist adventures that propelled KayCyy to stardom. It’s a reflection of an artist who’s more confident—and more truthful—than ever before.

“Music is my only chance to be as honest as I want to be,” KayCyy says. His newest project, the aptly titled Never Been So Sure, reflects the outcome of that soul searching. “I was just being more vulnerable, making myself more part of these instrumentals.” Indeed, with its stripped-down soundscapes, the album is a canvas for clarity—an echo chamber that ensnares pathos and lingering passion. For “On and Off Switch,” he glides over acoustic guitar as he unloads a love letter that sounds like willful surrender. Meanwhile, for “Love Is a Gun,” he prays his lover won’t turn his feelings against him. Open but guarded, bare yet layered, Never Been So Sure has moments of thematic tension. But when it comes to the quality of the music, KayCyy is anything but conflicted. All traces of doubt have been replaced with determination: “I’m hungrier than ever,” he says.

Before he had goals of musical conquest, KayCyy was born Mark Mbogo. He spent the first nine years of his life in Kenya before he and his family moved to Minnesota. Growing up around St. Paul, he remembers playing soccer, singing in church, and eventually jumping into the sounds of artists like Michael Jackson, Drake, and James Blake. “They pushed the culture forward,” he says. “They weren’t doing what was already done.”

While he was inspired by those legends, it was his brother’s talent show exploits that helped push KayCyy toward music. He’d already been steeped in gospel, but seeing his brother rehearse Ye’s “Heartless” for a middle-school showcase sparked something. Using a MacBook and a Guitar Hero microphone, KayCyy began recording his first songs through GarageBand. He wasn’t all that pleased with his initial offerings. “I didn’t like how it sounded when I recorded it,” he says, but he was able to figure out why: “I didn’t know how to pace myself.”

KayCyy soon mastered his timing, but his music had a momentum of its own. After serving up R&B covers of songs like Trey Songz’s “Love Faces” and Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” in his late teens under the name KayCyy Pluto, he began gaining traction when he released “Weekend Thir$t.” Mixing traditional singing and adventurous melodic flows, the track saw his instincts as an aesthete crystallize. It also earned more than 100,000 streams on SoundCloud.

After graduating high school in 2016, KayCyy left to pursue music in New York City, despite the wishes of his strict parents, who wanted him to focus on school. But by 2017, he’d not only dropped a couple of underground mixtapes but also connected with his manager, Abou “Bu” Thiam. With Bu’s backing, KayCyy collaborated with rap luminaries like Maino, Casanova, and Lil Wayne. Then he met Ye, who made use of KayCyy’s delicate yet expressive vocals on “Keep My Spirit Alive” and other offerings from Ye’s Donda album.

Since then, KayCyy has continued his level up. In 2022, he was named an XXL Freshman and unleashed the mixtape Get Used to It, a skittering sonic adventure that reaffirmed his penchant for curation and vocal experimentation. For Never Been So Sure, he continues his evolution, drifting into his own ruminations on romance for substantive songs that bridge musical eras with tenderness and melody. He even teams with fellow boundary-pushing artists and icons like Buju Banton, Lucky Daye, and Kaytranada, a choice that put him on a path to even more exploration. “Never Been So Sure can open a door so I can get more creative—be more free,” he says. “It’s for all people. It’s gon’ reach the kids and it’s gon’ touch the grown folks. Everybody gon’ feel the vibes.”

Past Shows


Sep
6
th
2023
7th St Entry
Sep
6
th
2023
7th St Entry

KayCyy

The Who Else?! Tour
with LilTime, Tae Supreme and Aubreykingx
Sep
28
th
2021
7th St Entry
Sep
28
th
2021
7th St Entry

KayCyy, DCMBR, Prince Riley and more!

Stars of Tomorrow Live Concert

More Shows

Aug
9
th
Turf Club

A Tribute to
Shania Twain

Jul
27
th
First Avenue

Rophnan

Aug
30
th
Turf Club

Purple Funk Metropolis, Dylan Salfer and Lighter Co.

Nov
10
th
Turf Club

Hackensaw Boys