INTERVIEW: K$ace explains how his face became plastered on YouTube billboards across the country.
K$ace was born at one fateful Sweet 16 party in a sleepy suburb of New York four years ago...
Kyle Nelson rolled up to the party wearing a Versace suit. A fellow party-goer spotted him and said, "Yoooo... you K$ace now!" From that moment forward, everyone called Nelson K$ace.
Now 20 years old, K$ace has gained minor internet notoriety, first as a streetwear model, then as a rapper, then as the face of YouTube music. Images of him spitting hot flames into a pop filter are plastered on billboards from Soho to Hollywood, as well as smaller advertisements on everything from taxis to bus stops. It's not just what we listen to. It's who we are.
HNHH had the opportunity to ask K$ace a few questions about his upbringing, his foray into music, and how he scored a gig modeling for YouTube.
What part of New York are you from?
I grew up in a town in Westchester called Ossining. I didn't mind it there. I just knew I didn't belong there.
What were you like as a kid?
Very energetic and daring.
What's your relationship like with your parents?
I always rocked with my parents, they support anything I decided to do.
What were your favorite things to do around New York with your friends growing up?
Skateboard and get in trouble.
How long have you been skating?
All my life, basically.
Do you see any overlaps between music and skateboarding, philosophically?
Everything definitely goes hand and hand.
You said in a 2015 interview that “my college is whack." Where did you go? What was so whack about it?
I went to SUNY Old Westbury in Long Island. I dropped out after six months, the campus was trash. the kids there were trash except my EOP homies and maybe like two or three regular kids that I rocked with.
How did you get connected with YouTube? Why do you think they chose to put your face on billboards and ads across the country?
I dropped my "I Might" video on YouTube, they saw it, they loved it, and they reached out to me. And the rest was history.
You wrote in one online profile that you don’t consider yourself a model.
I'm not signed or anything like that, so I never felt like I was a real model. I just got lucky with the jobs I booked. (Laughs)
You’ve only been rapping about a year. Tell us about your first experiences rapping.
One day I hopped in the booth, got a YouTube beat, and started trolling all my friends. (Laughs) I didn't know a joke would have me this lit.
You’re dropping a tape this week. How have you evolved your sound and craft since you released Up From Here in July?
I'm taking music a bit more serious now, so this new tape is definitely going to have more bangers, better producers, and some unexpected features.
Is the beginning of “I Might” your natural voice or is it artificially pitched up?
It's my actual voice. Some people don't believe me but it' actually me.
You really like Henny. In your mind, what makes Henny the greatest?
Henny definitely gets me amped before a show. Henny and Red Bull or Henny and cranberry, or just Henny straight gets the job done.