Kashmir Thompson & Kyle Hayes (Conversation)

Illustration by Sam Liacos.

Kashmir: What role does love play in your creativity or your career?

Kyle: First, watching you do everything you do and how you’ve grown and blossomed with your own career is motivational. I look at you and think, she’s on her shit. You’re not playing yourself or anybody else to acquire anything.

Second, I’m super proud. I love talking about you or showing you off or showing off something you’ve done because everything you do comes from the heart. You’d be a fool to not try to get some of that energy; it’s contagious. You should want to catch that. Loving you makes me more creative. I’m wide open because watching you is motivational.

Also, you want to do something to where your family can be proud of you or do things for people that they may not be able to do for themselves. You want to put something out into the world that may get somebody through something. I’ll never forget when somebody hit me up and told me a beat tape of mine got them through a situation where they were in a halfway house and trying to make it. He was like, “This is all I played when I was trying to get over this hump.” That’s not something that I think about when making beats, not upfront, but to know that you’re doing something that somebody’s connecting with is fucking cool.

Kashmir: Yeah. It definitely is.

Kyle: People line up to see you.

Kashmir: Yeah, that’s crazy.

Kyle: How do you feel? Do you love that?

Kashmir: I do, but it’s overwhelming for me because it’s not something I’m used to; it doesn’t seem like something that you get used to quickly. I’m happy about it. I love the fact that people connect with my artwork, that it means something to them, and it takes them to a better or happier place.

Kyle: You had the one young lady who couldn’t use her hands or feet, and was painting with her mouth. That’s crazy!

Kashmir: Yeah, that’s really crazy. Her name is Glenisha. (Shoutout to Glen/Glenny.) She paints with her mouth. She can’t use her legs or her arms. She paints completely with her mouth. Before she found my artwork, she didn’t think that she could be a painter because she thought that you had to have all of this detail and features when you paint people. And I came through with faceless paintings and she’s like, “Oh, I can do it.” Now, she paints and sells her stuff.

Kyle: She’s expressing herself. You empower her to express herself. Somebody who never thought in a million years that they could tell a story is.

People line up to see you. People want stuff signed. They want pictures with you. It’s the wildest thing, and this is all from the person that I pour cereal for. You know what I mean? I love how you handle it all, and it makes me feel like I can handle more. It makes me wanna level up.

Kashmir: On the flip side–not saying that I may have never gotten to this stage that I’m at–as far as love and what role it plays in my career, you gave me the time and the space that I needed to be able to create and not do anything else. You’ve allowed me to move here with you and didn’t pressure me to get a job right away. You didn’t pressure me to put money into bills. You allowed me to find myself as a creative and go hard with my art.

Kyle: I think that’s all you want, because you think about how you grew up and how you said your mom thought you were crazy when you said you wanted to be an artist. Again, it’s about having somebody willing to understand you. I know how it feels to have that freedom to only worry about creating–just to ease up a little bit and not be so tense. It makes a world of difference. I know when I hear either the Backstreet Boys or Ne-Yo back to back that you’re downstairs doing something.

Kashmir: Those the only people I listen to?

Kyle: Pretty much.

Kashmir: You’re gonna have everybody thinking I only listen to Backstreet Boys and Ne-Yo. Everybody’s going to think I’m soft. How do you describe me to other people?

Kyle: The word I use a lot is awesome. [Laughs] Also, dope and talented. I could describe you in so many ways because we do so much and we relate on so many levels; it’s almost to the point where I’m the guy in the room that’s always talking about his girlfriend. You know what I’m saying? You’re my best friend, so that’s how we ride. When I get around the homies or somebody in particular who might not know you or might ask about you, it’s easy to go on and on because a) very rarely are we clashing and b) you’re always doing something dope. You attract good things. You attract good people.

Kashmir: I pretty much describe you in the same way and I think that’s because we’ve got so much in common. Creative, protective–so many adjectives, but the main idea that people get when I talk about you is how much you love me and how well you take care of me.

Kyle: I do. Our relationship isn’t common. Relationships that start off long distance very rarely ever last, let alone through two people, or even one person, uprooting to be with one another; it’s a lot. I’m very aware of how big of a decision it was for your family to accept that. You come from a family of women. You’re somebody’s daughter and with that, I know my responsibility. One of my biggest fear is something happening to you and I can’t get to you. I’m responsible for you. The world is a crazy place and now that people are starting to recognize you and with how the internet works…I want to protect you.

Kashmir: What were you thinking about right before you kissed me for the first time?

Kyle: Well, for one, the first time we kissed was at the airport, obviously on sight. At that point, given the moment, I was ready to leave the airport. But, I knew I’d kiss you again.

Kashmir: You just knew, huh?

Kyle: I knew. Luckily for me, a lot of the things that we’ve been through I haven’t had any real trouble going with. I don’t have much trouble going with the flow. It usually turns out good. What were you thinking? This is interesting.

Kashmir: [Sighs]

Kyle: Don’t lie, man.

Kashmir: No, I’m not gonna lie. The biggest thing I was thinking–really that whole day–was, I hope he likes me. I hope he thinks I’m as cute and as beautiful and as wonderful as he knew I would be.

Kyle: Yeah, it’s a lot to want to be seen as advertised.

Kashmir: How is love different for you now than when you first fell in love?

Kyle: Man. It’s different now because you know how much more it requires. You love people for different reasons, and it takes time and growth to know you have to love people in different ways. You can’t force love. Somebody has to be open to you loving them, and it’s not always something that’s going to be easy. Everybody’s not always going to be receptive to love. Not everybody knows love and that’s a hard thing to run into.

Kashmir: Love is different for me now than when I first fell in love because I’m different. I’m a completely different person. When I first “fell” in love, I thought differently. I acted differently. I carried myself differently. Everything is different. I love differently now, and it’s because I’ve matured and I’ve changed and I’ve learned…

Kyle: What’s one thing that you may have had to learn or change in order for you to be a better lover?

Kashmir: I knew that I needed to be more receptive to criticism and critique, and it’s still not something that I’m A1 with. For so long, I felt like I was the best of the best at everything. I had to put that behind me. I don’t know everything, and I have to be open to criticism. I’ve realized that the person giving the criticism is not anyone who’s going to steer me wrong.

Kyle: It’s never fun or easy to expose the kinks and dents in your armor. Once you find someone, you undertake that process as a unit and try to find ways to be better lovers to each other.

Kashmir: How do you know when it’s love?

Kyle: Man…

Kashmir: Well…how did you know it was love with me?

Kyle: There’s always been a certain level of comfort that you provide, mentally and emotionally. I have no problem telling you anything because I know you’re going to listen.

Also, I knew it was love by the way you look at me…you’ve never stopped looking at me like the way you did when we first met. You looked at me a certain way and I knew that it wasn’t a game. I had to recognize that you weren’t playing and you really felt a way about me and I had to take you seriously.

Kashmir: I knew it was love the moment I realized that everything I ever wanted to give somebody or everything I could ever want to do for somebody, I wanted to give and do for you. It just hit me. I want do everything for you. I want to be everything for you…

Kyle: I want go everywhere with you. I want to…

Kashmir: Yeah.

Kyle: You let go. You let everything go. You say, “Fuck it.” I have no problem with going here or doing this because I know this person would do that for me and I know we’ll both enjoy it.

Kashmir: We have fun together to the point where it doesn’t really matter where we are. We’ll make fun out of anything.

Kyle: Yeah. Our level of humor is so peculiar; we laugh at stuff probably no one else would laugh at.

Kashmir: Even if they “got it,” they wouldn’t…

Kyle: Right, it’s not even close. I think that speaks to our energy.  We’re not afraid to be weird or corny because who else am I going to be like this with? This is it.

Kashmir: Yeah, this is it. This is the end and the beginning, all at the same time.

Kyle: I don’t care about whatever happens because I know we’ll figure it out. I think it’s amazing how we…it’s a lot to think about. I just know I’m fortunate, and I know this is different compared to what people have tried to sell me. I know I have everything that was missing from every situation that was supposed to be love.

So again, I pray that you don’t get sick of me.

Kashmir: Yeah.

Kyle: Also, I hope that you’re not settling. You never want be somebody’s second choice or the convenient choice.

Kashmir: Yeah, that’s a fear of mine too. I hope you’re not settling.

Kyle: On the flip side, sometimes you have to let a person know you’re not settling. You have to let a person know you’re in it and that this is the right thing. You have to let a person know that you two are right for each other because people’s insecurities can really dictate how they receive love. Breaking down that kind of wall can be a lot and a lot of people get tired of it. A lot of people would give up or throw in the towel for lack of energy.

Kyle: What about me makes it worth to deal with any of that?

Kashmir: You give me a feeling…

Kyle: I need to know this…

Kashmir: You make me feel some type of way that I know I wouldn’t be able to feel with anyone else. I know, in my heart and in my soul, that this is a feeling that can never be replicated with anyone else.

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