Photo Credit: Sariel Elkaim
Kyle Harvey – known also as K.i.D, SuperDuperKyle, Kidd Kash, and, most commonly, just Kyle – has made a name for himself through his work with other artists. His breakout hit was the now-Platinum certified “iSpy” with Lil Yachty – his only other Platinum-certified track is “Playinwitme”, featuring Kehlani. On It’s Not So Bad, he admirably attempts to find his own identity – with a tracklist featuring just 3 other artists (compared to 12 and 8 respectively on his previous LPs). Unfortunately, by the album’s end, we’re left with little to no more ideas about who Kyle really is.
Despite being less feature-heavy than previous efforts, It’s Not So Bad still boasts a credits list as long as your arm – with a crew of 20+ writers and producers have worked on it; many of whom have churned out a reliable stream of hits for the likes of Kanye West, Eminem, Demi Lovato and more. It’s Not So Bad’s sprawling credits are hardly a surprise; these are songs that sound as if they’ve been tweaked and edited by countless industry veterans hired with the express purpose to make these songs as sanitized and inoffensive as possible.
If this was indeed the purpose with which they were hired, then the team here has done their job – any rough edges and imperfections that may have once existed within these songs have been well and truly scrubbed clean and rounded off. The downside, of course, of this, is that just as there are no truly awful moments on It’s Not So Bad, neither are there any truly brilliant, captivating ones either. Utilizing dated early-2010s pop arrangements and familiar trap beats, Kyle coasts between various genres – hip-hop, R&B, pop – while never sounding particularly committed to – or invested in – any of them. The R&B-pop infusions here are particularly dreary – recalling Justin Bieber’s 2021 misfire Justice, more so than recalling the excellent R&B-pop of, say Chloe x Halle’s Ungodly Hour – or even the merely competent R&B-pop of Ariana Grande’s Positions.
Again, there’s nothing truly terrible about It’s Not So Bad. Maybe, in that sense, it’s unfair to compare it to Justice – it lacks the rock-bottom lows of that album’s worst moments. There’s certainly no ill-advised sampling of Martin Luther King, Jr. – for which we are all very grateful. It’s Not So Bad, however, is similarly uninspired. Across its 28 minutes, Kyle never reaches anything remotely close to a revelation: The song “Perfect” repeats its titular word an eye-watering 125 times in three-and-a-half minutes, and the cleverest word-play Kyle can come up with across the entire album is “A fight club like Tyler Durden.”
While Kyle does attempt to step away from the blueprint and offer some personal insight, the results are worse than when he fails to try at all. “Shiesty” uses the premise of heartbreak to excuse the narrator’s toxicity and slut-shaming (“Now, I call her bougie thot // She wouldn’t get far f*cking them rap stars”). “Love’s Theme Song” meanwhile, mercilessly drains love of its magic until it sounds like little more than a burden (“When you put that ring on, you signed up to die for me // So you know we gotta keep this thing alive”).
Most of It’s Not So Bad, however, is merely unspectacular rather than objectionable. These songs are destined to become background music, to be added to countless “chill” playlists. Hey, if the LP had been released a decade ago, it might have boasted a Top 40 hit or two. For now, however, it exists merely because it can. Kyle may go by many names, but with It’s Not So Bad, we’re no closer to knowing the real him.