Kevin Abstract Bares His Soul

My first recollection of Kevin Abstract was probably just over five years ago. Anyone who knew of the kid at the time likely found him in one spot: The Kanye West fan forum was a massive time waster for me at one point. The community of stalkers, idiots, trolls, and creatives was enough to keep me entertained for hours. There was a small portion of the forum carved out for users to share their own music and get feedback. One of the few artists I remember getting a consistent buzz was Kevin Abstract. This was probably late 2010, so Kevin couldn’t have been more than 15 years old at the time. To my memory, nobody on KTT was especially talented or fine-tuned at that point, and Kevin was no exception. I don’t remember much about his music aside from his extremely raw talent and an ability to captivate listeners that was beyond his years.

Although I haven’t visited KTT in four years, I would occasionally catch wind of Kevin’s latest creations via friends or blogs like Pigeons & Planes. The mega-curated image became his signature. Insanely ambitious ideas like a website that mimicked his Mac desktop and played his music video captivated listeners in the same way his music did on KTT years earlier. Despite all that, I never sensed a moment when it seemed like Kevin was poised to blow up. He was still just a weird kid with a small, loyal fan base. The content was there, but finding a foothold with a more mainstream audience is a different animal.

He’s “all grown up” now. 19 is a weird age that brings the kinds of growing pains that are unavoidable. There’s no way around it, but the upside is you start to gain some semblance of maturity and wisdom, that, when combined with youthful creative recklessness, can make something special.

Enter “ECHO”.

For the first time in his career, I feel like we may have found a singular launch point. In the first 21 hours, the video amassed well over 15,000 views, which sounds small in an industry dominated by Adeles and Drakes, but is seismic for a self-made artist like Kevin Abstract.

The plodding ballad evokes the pensive (Drive), the disenchanted (The Catcher In The Rye), and the downtrodden (808s & Heartbreak). There isn’t any rapping here, which makes it all feel like some kind of ’90s alt rock single smashed up against a 2008–2010 Kanye West production.

Starin’ at the sky ain’t gon’ fix my problem
Howlin’ at the moon ain’t gon’ bring you back

It’s a tale of loss, escape, and departure set to film by fellow whiz kid Tyler Mitchell. The whole thing is gorgeous, which is huge if you’re trying to make a name for yourself these days. What’s more, it’s all orchestrated by a bunch of kids younger than I am, which serves as pretty much the ultimate manifestation of where we are in 2015. The art direction, production, video, and overall product would’ve been impressive for an established artist 10 years ago, and now it’s being churned out by a bunch of kids who grew up online and have more ideas than they know what to do with.

The next major chapter of Kevin Abstract’s career will come in the early part of next year when his second album THEY SHOOT HORSES hits the internet. He’s laid the foundation. All that’s left is to start going vertical.

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Originally published at on December 1, 2015.