“The white rapper thing is real annoying,” he says. “It is remarkable how frequently people insist on adding the color denomination. It's never just rapper.”
Born Steve Cooper, the DIY artist who has always been surrounded by rap music acknowledges that there really isn't that many great white rappers out there. Not so much black, but definitely a ton of white – the Gray Kid moniker was born.
“Initially when I came up with it, I was only doing rap music; it was a preemptive strike to all the racial stigmas that came with trying to make those kinds of records,” he says. “But it's developed for me now. The Gray Kid is more about the solution to a lot of different kinds of joys and pains that we experience. It's that middle ground where everyone can kind of relate to the emotions.”
In working with a music genre like rap that is so closely associated with the inner workings of community, the Gray Kid has reached many – playing for the hardcore hip hop aficionado to indie rock advocate and more or less both in the same club. It does help that he has some of the finest booty shaking beats out there to corral them in.
Genre defying, it's not just dirty hip hop (“Like a Comet”), but also spacey indie rock (“Okay, Okay”) and a lot of soul with a strong falsetto to boot (“Lonely Love”). All of which fill his debut record …5,6,7,8 .
You can also lodge him only slightly in the world of homage/parody music as his song “Bringing Paxil Back,” (“I'm bringing Paxil back, generic brands just don't know how to act”) a takeoff of the Justin Timberlake hit “SexyBack” has blown up on YouTube.
The Gray Kid still keeps searching for the sound, created majority wise in his bedroom.
“I'm really trying to define that sound that's intelligent, that's aggressive, but its still pop. I feel that can be a big contribution.” Something so seismic, in fact, that it is akin to the effect that some of his inspirations (The Beatles, Radiohead) have had in music history.
“It's all about individuals for me – unique or individual groups. I have to know it's the only place I can get it and then I love it forever. That's what I want to be, I want to be the only one of me.”
When he spits with relative ease that “Girls love cocky rappers,” (“Styler”) the statement in a sense can be true of the aesthetic that is the Gray Kid. But according to him, that's just him being ironic.
More raw and carefree, it's that spirit that motivated him to take a chance and plunge himself into the New York City scene, which he says led him to gain team members (World's Fair Management, home to such artists as Flaming Lips and El-P) but ultimately the West Coast was calling, notably Los Angeles.
“In the end of the day L.A. has always been the place for the really game changing people like Beck and even a lot of producers like Rick Rubin. I prefer it as a music scene: there's far more venues, there's a zillion bands and there's a lot of label activity. In New York there's a couple of big companies, but in L.A it's the ground, the folks that write the checks are in the streets and that makes for a very exciting artist environment.”
Vibrant? Absolutely. Large? No doubt. The Gray Kid likes things large in scale.
Approximately 4,097,340 people live in Los Angeles. Go get 'em kid.… 5,6,7,8 is currently available. For more information, visit www.graykid.com