Syd the Kyd Could Be Hip-Hop's Next Lesbian Icon
By Adam Rathe
Photography by Darren Ankenman
Green laser lights shoot across the wall as ice cubes melt in the chamber of a bong sitting on the coffee table. The living room of Syd the Kyd’s spacious Marina del Rey apartment is crammed with a drum set, a guitar, and a small fortune’s worth of computer equipment. A menorah rests on a table next to an enormous flat-screen sprouting video game controllers. Syd says she almost never goes beyond a two-block radius of her home. No wonder.
Syd makes beats for Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, the controversial and incredibly popular hip-hop collective -- boasting at least 10 members -- fronted by firecracker provocateur Tyler, The Creator and known by fans and foes alike as Odd Future. She’s also half of The Internet, a side project whose debut album -- the gentle, funky Purple Naked Ladies -- was released in January. It features Syd’s light, soulful voice addressing female love interests in a few songs.
Syd’s the 19-year-old whiz who started mixing songs for Odd Future while she still lived with her parents. She’s been an integral part of the group from its rise to fame and the harsh spotlight cast on it thanks to Tyler’s larger-than-life persona (and subsequent media profile) and his lyrics, which are widely reviled for being misogynistic, homophobic, and irresponsible. To some, he’s a bully spitting hateful verses; to others, he’s a firebrand in the vein of Johnny Rotten, looking to make listeners uncomfortable. But being a member of Odd Future and a lesbian doesn’t strike Syd as conflicting.
“Most of the homos I know use homophobic slurs, and it’s never a problem unless someone who’s not a part of the group is using the word,” Syd says. “But a lot of people take things out of context, and you’ve got to understand that there is a difference between saying, ‘Hey, you faggot’ and 'Hey, faggot.' When Tyler says 'faggot,' he's not referring to gays, he's referring to lame people. And in our vocabulary, that's what the word 'faggot' means. I'm not offended by the word 'faggot' -- and I am one."
Talking over lunch at an In-N-Out Burger near her apartment, Syd says that Odd Future’s reputation for being hateful comes from people taking the group too seriously.
“I look at it like most people do when you hear something outrageous. You go, ‘Aw, that was fucked up,’ ” she says. “And then you hear it again, and it’s like, ‘That’s really fucked up.’ And then you hear it so many times you just start laughing, like, ‘That is so fucked up!’ But it’s hilarious, and that’s when you start to take life a little less seriously.”
Odd Future’s mission, according to Syd, isn’t just to play its famously raucous live shows, or to laugh all the way to the bank, thanks to album royalties and branded collaborations—like a show on Adult Swim or its L.A. pop-up shop selling the group’s merch, clothes from its fashion line, and skateboarding gear. The job of the group, says Syd, a slight stunner in a worn tank top and an Odd Future windbreaker who’s quick to smile but wary of making eye contact, is to be truth-tellers.
“We’re just a group of kids who make mistakes,” she says, “and rather than lying about them, we use the truth to tell other people, people our age, ‘Know that you’re gonna make mistakes. Shit isn’t gonna be perfect. If you need to scream at somebody, do it and apologize later.’ We try to be as honest as possible.”