Remembering Rodney Kyles Jr., aka rapper In Rod We Lust

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Yesterday marked the two-year anniversary of the death of Rodney Kyles Jr., a philosophy student at Roosevelt and an aspiring MC who rapped under the name In Rod We Lust. Kyles was 19 when he was stabbed to death in Lincoln Park in front of his friend Chancelor Bennett, who is better known as local hip-hop phenom Chance the Rapper. When I profiled Bennett before he dropped his breakout Acid Rap mixtape at the end of April, he talked about how Kyles's death had had a major impact on his life, and that influence shows in the rapper's music—Kyles has been a constant presence in Bennett's tunes, from the opening moments of #10Day to Acid Rap knockouts such as "Juice" and "Acid Rain." Bennett isn't the only MC who has rapped about Kyles; when Dikembe Caston (aka Kembe X) heard his friend had passed away, he forwent sleeping and wrote a tune called "The Wager (In Rod We Lust)," one of the best tracks off his Self Rule mixtape.

Caston introduced me to Kyles's work at the end of 2011, a few months after his friend died, and I made sure to download Kyles's final mixtape, Less Passion. More Ration. As Bennett told me a little more than a year later, Kyles dropped it just a few days before he died, and it's the last thing he posted on his In Rod We Lust Tumblr. The download link for Less Passion. More Ration still works, which I didn't expect—Kyles had uploaded the mixtape to the file-sharing site MediaFire, where in the past year or so plenty of downloaded pages have been taken down after remaining untouched for months. Anyway, I'm slowly reworking my way through Less Passion for the first time since I initially downloaded it, and though it's rough around the edges, Kyles's potential manages to poke through the toughest patches. Sometimes the lines don't quite fit right, but there are moments when Kyles's turns of phrase make everything work in spite of—or because of—the clunkiness of the rhymes (I'm particularly drawn to his lyric about advertising flashy clothing to impoverished people on "Rat Cabbit"), which makes me wonder how much he could have grown and what could have been. Check out Less Passion. More Ration for yourself and nab it quick from MediaFire.

Leor Galil writes about hip-hop every Wednesday.

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