Can Punk Go R&B? Analysis Using Jonny Craig, Kyle Lucas

I’m not only a hip-hop fan. Like many people, I found my way through high school by the heavy beats of punk/emo/screamo/whatever you call it. So when TBFGIC – The Blueprint For Going In Circles – was released back in 2015 by BFF’s Jonny Craig, Kyle Lucas & Captain Midnite (who has produced several tracks for both artists), it was another album that I could appreciate from both genres I love so much.

Story | Sara Loretta

Image | City of Punk

Rapper Kyle Lucas comes out of Marietta, Georgia and was signed to Big Boi with his previous group Vonnegutt. After their contract fell apart, Lucas went solo, releasing tracks mentioning the experience on Boi’s label and how he’s making a name for himself as an unsigned artist. His lyrics can be classifies as alternative hip hop, as Kyle mainly raps about drugs and relationships. His most known song is ‘Red Wine and Xanax,’ and is a great example of his lyric style:

“Now I’m well aware that this cycle we’re in mixed Vicodin and it constantly repeats / This apartment turned into a pharmacy, self medicate can’t hardly leave / We hate each other, we love each other, that’s half of my heart she’s part of me.”

While Lucas still sits unsigned, his dedicated fans keep his career alive, allowing Kyle to complete over 4 tours since 2013, with another on the way at the end of the year.

He’s primarily in the punk/hardcore scene but Jonny Craig has been graced with a rasp-filled vocal range that allows him to seduce crowds acoustically and on R&B trap beats (his focus as a solo artist). Craig is highly controversial in the punk scene, mostly because of the relationship he had with Heroin, which has greatly impacted his fan base and has also gotten him kicked out of two bands.

Not only have they appeared on a handful of tracks for each other, Jonny Craig and Kyle Lucas ended up teaming up for an “R&B/Soul” album (The Blueprint for Going in Circles) back in 2015, that unfortunately didn’t gain much traction but it still a gem in it’s own right.

The 11-track album tells the story of a relationship that ends, but both parties continually come back to each other. While I enjoy the record in it’s entirety, there are three songs that I would consider my favorite:

Destiny, The Two Way Street’: The song is basically about a fight between two people and their makeup sex:

“She’s screaming rip me to pieces / I’ll be the man that I’m supposed to be / The man that you dream, goddamn girl, your freedom is me”…

IStillFeelHer, Pt. 5’: I love this song. While the title mentions this being the fifth rendition of IStillFeelHer, a part two was never released. The first and fourth were released on Emarosa records (Craig’s second band), the third on his first solo album, and finally now the fifth on TBFGIC. This track is classic Kyle Lucas, rapping about girls that don’t love him back:

“Maybe in another life we’d be fine / But I don’t see the reason, the reason she won’t leave him / All this deceives me, and I guess she needs him.”

Worth It’: This track is just a catchy song, even if it is about not being enough for someone. I think that is one thing that both Craig and Lucas do well – produce music that gets a crowd to raise their hands and bounce to the beat.

While I think it’s possible for punk artists to cross between genres, an artist’s original sound will always be apart of the creative process. For instance, fellow musician, Tyler Carter (currently with the band ISSUES) released an R&B/Soul album after his decade in punk music. The band ISSUES, has centered their albums around heavy breakdowns and extended vocals, so for Tyler as their lead vocalist, his transition to R&B is easier than perhaps Linkin Park or Of Mice & Men changing genres.

The difference between Carter and Jonny Craig however is their vocals. As I mentioned above, Craig has a natural rasp as if he chained-smoked straight out of the womb, whereas Tyler draws a Michael Jackson influence into his vocals. Both are rooted in Warped Tour, but they have completed fun side projects to expand their musicality, and I applaud them.

Kyle Lucas is about to jump on another tour, with a few punk bands, check out the dates on his Facebook page. While Jonny Craig, is working on new music with his current band, Slaves.

Writer & Visual Storyteller | I think mumble rap is like disco, a bad phase.

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