Now, let the beat drop. If rap is your lifestyle, dope beats are your besties and upcoming artists are your pride and joy, then listen up, yo. There are a handful of students on campus who have dreams of making it in music’s big leagues, but one in particular is taking the first step to push his dreams towards reality.
Kyle Williams, also known as “Trackstar,” released his very first mixtape last week, and local fans are going balistic for his funky-fresh rap game.
Does he seem a little familiar? Believe it or not, most students have probably seen Williams before. Where you ask? Between school, friends and spitting out local hits, Williams spends his time at Molly’s, but not as a guest. Williams is well known for being the “Trackstar” that rocks the turntables. He DJ’s two nights a week at Molly’s Party Club.
While he gets the crowd moving at Molly’s, constructing a mixtape has always been William’s passion. His new tape creates a sense of modern, upbeat confidence that is evident in every track; the same confidence that he portrays while mixing beats at Molly’s. Most of his lyrics from his new mixtape are from past experiences and people he encountered throughout his younger years.
His mixtape, titled “Under the Influence” includes 18 mixed songs telling the story of Williams’ life. This tape features influences from Jay Z, Kanye West, Drake and Lil Wayne. Kyle has been working on this mixtape since June 2013 when he first heard of Jay Z’s latest album, “Magna Carta...Holy Grail.”
“It all started with my influence from an artist. Jay Z had made a CD called the “Magna Carta...Holy Grail,” Williams said. “I heard the CD, and I liked it a lot, but I was really more captivated by the production and the beats he was writing on and singing over. And I had the idea to take every instrumental that he had, and I’m going to do my own version of it and make it my mixtape.”
Williams combines his deep voice with the light beats of influential artists to invent a new sound. He claims he got his “blueprint” outline for his mixtape from Lil Wayne, but he has many role models including J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky. With a small bits and pieces of all of these artist coming together, the tape is sure to get a lot of attention from students that thrive on rap music.
Brian Birchier, a junior at Northwest, helped to produce and overlay Williams’ personal lyrics on top of the structures of previous instrumental productions. Birchier works with a few artists in the area to assure that their music has a more official, professional vibe. The pair collaborated and teamed up to design the mixtape that is spreading across campus.
“I hope it (the mixtape) is successful,” Birchier said. “I’ve seen him work a lot online, and he’s on YouTube now. He’s handing out CDs; he has digital copies ready to be sent through email. Hopefully, he gets a lot of exposure, and he goes somewhere with it.”
Anyone who meets Williams will agree that determination on of his key traits. His work ethic and uplifting attitude has contributed to the success he has in the music world.
“Kyle is a very hard worker,” Birchier said. “Everytime he came into the studio, he knew what he wanted to do. He had notes prepared. He gave me advice on some things, and I gave him some helpful feedback. He was very determined and very excited to work together.”
Williams’ lyrics are direct, powerful and add his own flavor to the instrumentals already created by the pros. In his song titled “Successful,” Williams uses Drake’s background to paint a lyrical masterpiece all his own.
The track begins with the Lord’s Prayer and cuts into Williams’ voice rapping, “I can’t even lie, I went through times when I was confused/I had multiples clinging to my heart, but it wasn’t amusing/Even when I was losing, it was easy to keep it cruisin’/Till I fully lost the things in life that were worth proving.”
Honesty is a common thread throughout the mixtape. Williams is not afraid to say negative things about the past because this mixtape is almost a cleansing artform for him. It’s his way of expressing himself, releasing bad memories and starting fresh with new ideas.
“I think a lot of my lyrics for my ‘Under the Influence’ was a lot of stuff that related to me and my ex and my friends back home, really any people I knew it the past,” Williams said. “I wanted to be so cool, and I wanted so many things that I felt like I wasn’t really being myself for a long time...I don’t regret it because it’s mainly who I am today.”
The whole tape is a mix of slow, smoothing notes with Williams’ overpowering voice. Even though the music is not his, the songs sound nothing like the originals from the big-time artists. He has taken someone else’s art and transformed it to make it a completely new music experience.
“I knew I was under the influence of a lot of different artists, and I knew it really wasn’t sounding like me yet,” Williams said. “(It was about) finding and bringing out my personality within the instrumentals.”
After changing majors a few times, Williams has decided that art is the right career path for him. He is unsure if music will be a role in his future, but right now, it is a prominent aspect in his life with his mixtape and DJ job at Molly’s.
He strives to be a well-rounded artist, dabbling in all artforms, including music, drawing and painting. One of the more interesting parts of the album actually isn’t musical at all. The cover for the mixtape is a pencil drawing Williams sketched himself.
“I wanted a whole lot of garbage in the yard, and me in the middle and my influences above me because I’m under the influence of them,” Williams said. “But I have a bag of drugs, of pills, bottles of alcohol, condoms and beer cans and stuff that I feel I am above the influence of now...”
Williams does not take his music lightly. He says he is critical of other artists he cares for, including some of his biggest role models, such as Drake. But at the same time, he appreciates other musicians for their productions and efforts.
“Any artist that is making something to really push people to think or motivate somebody, music that can inspire emotion whether it’s angry, happy, sad, anything that is artistic, that’s great music,” Williams said.
“In that sense where it is getting people to do anything, that’s the power behind music that I really love. I think you can change someone’s life, and you don’t even know them. But you can make a song that impacts someone…”
Williams could see himself making another mixtape in the future, but he is still trying to hand out his first CDs. He has already blown through his first 100 and is looking to spread his passion around town even more as his local fame takes off.
“Kyle is the type of person that wants to get things done,” Birchier said. “He is very devoted and determined when he sets his mind to something. His music revolves around him growing as a person and completing these milestones in his life. And how he improves from that…”