For so long, the trend has been for Christian artists to develop their careers and then crossover into secular markets. However, we rarely hear of cases where artists function in the secular market and after having success want to enter the Christian market. Kyle “K.” Sparks grew up and lives in Queens, New York. His dad was a jazz musician and developed in his son a love for great music, and at an early age Kyle became interested in hip-hop music. Like so many, he listened to the early pioneers of the art form. Around 2006, Sparks released his first mixtape and began shopping his music around. Due to the musical genetics in his family and sheer determination, it wasn’t long before Sparks landed publishing and record deals, began working with major label artists such as Kid CuDi, and he began winning acclaim amongst the NY radio DJs, such as Hot 97, Power 105 and Nick Cannon. Although he had developed his craft from the grass roots focusing on the music, K. knew that what was missing was the message. So much of hip hop was glorifying what was wrong with the world. “The industry showed me it was just about money, but music really should be about helping people.”
Although K. Sparks grew up in the church, he resented going because it felt forced. “I started to become my own God,” said K. “It was a combination of things that brought me back to church and to faith,” K. remembers. Whatever you want to call it, ultimately it was the Holy Spirit that drew him and he began to re-attend his home church, the Allen AME church in Jamaica, NY just outside of Queens. From that point, K. Sparks began to really invest in the message in the music, releasing the “Read Between the Lines” mixtape. To his surprise, mainstream outlets with which he developed relationships really loved it. With artists such as Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole starting to go “content heavy”, he realized that both spiritually and artistically, pursuing God and speaking to cultural and social issues was where he needed to be. Sparks believes that audiences are craving social commentary. “Those artists are successful because they say, ‘We’re not perfect but we’re doing our best.’ and people like to hear that,” said Sparks.
As K. Sparks began to release spiritually minded music, DJ WadeO was the first to pay attention and opened the door for Sparks into the CHH community. Remarkably, K. Sparks has been a name that has not been widely circulated in CHH circles, but everyone should take a second, or first, look. Kyle’s heart is to impact people: “I want artists to respect the culture, to create something that’s positive, to have the music be challenging. It doesn’t have to be derogatory to women, it doesn’t have to have to glorify negative content, it doesn’t have to put down our community and make young people act in a manner that is non-productive.” K. Sparks’ motivation is admirable and he doesn’t shy away from the challenge of making meaningful music. He jumps in with both feet.
“Season’s Theme” is K. Sparks’ latest release and it was inspired through a series of events in his life that anyone would find difficult: his mother passed away, and then a year later his brother also died. But even going through that, K. wants to remind us to keep pressing on and that life is a journey. “Some seasons are laid back, and some seasons feel more aggressive. But you have to maintain your theme: one of positivity, not one of negativity.”
Our favorite track on the album is “Pardon My Back”, which we are now spinning on the air. In this track, K. really unleashes on his true mission. The beat is simple but the rhymes are complex, showing his mastery of the art form. Content-wise, if there’s any question about his CHH credentials, just listen to this track. K. Sparks’ favorite cut on “Season’s Theme” is “Trendy.” Sparks wrote this song because so many people don’t like things that are happening in society today, but they don’t want to get involved. Or, they use social media to lob bombs at each other but really don’t change anything, instead making matters worse. Sparks is challenging people to be a constructive part of solution by getting involved in a personal way. “I wanted this album to be like an ‘audio movie’ so we have interludes with narration” and they help advance the drama of the album. Each song adds to both the seasons and solutions as Sparks explores different social situations and life circumstances. A couple of CHH artists that take on this kind of social commentary and activism are Lecrae and Je’kob. K. Sparks is in good company. We enjoyed the conversation with him, and we hope that you do too.