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Before Chance the Rapper took the stage for the first of two headlining shows at the Riviera two weeks ago, Kyle Laroy Taylor—aka K-Town MC Stunt Taylor—made an unannounced appearance in front of the sold-out crowd. Joined by his cousin Daryon Simmons, who is better known as bop king Dlow, Taylor quickly launched into "Fe Fe on the Block," a party track that has the kind of sprightly, radiant synths that are so prominent in many rap tracks made for bopping, the playful, intuitive dance that's blossoming throughout Chicago's west and south sides. "I didn't really think it was a bop song, I thought I was just making a club banger," Taylor says. "I just ran with it."
Taylor's tune has become an anthem in the booming bop scene and it keeps growing. Before Taylor performed his surprise one-song set at Chance's Riviera show, Chance used "Fe Fe on the Block" in an Instagram video announcing a new set of dates for his "Social Experiment" tour, introducing his growing fan base to Taylor in the same way that he's helped expose the bop scene. (Taylor also performed "Fe Fe on the Block" on the second night of Chance's stint at the Riv.) Taylor's song has become popular outside the bop scene, inescapable even—just a handful of days ago Fake Shore Drive founder Andrew Barber tweeted, "Is 'Fe Fe On The Block' the hottest song in the city? Heard it like 5 times last night . . ." The tune's helped Taylor land a couple different opening spots for shit-hot Versace-loving Atlanta rap trio Migos (including one 12/21 at Adrianna's) and a slot performing at an Adrianna's afterparty for Atlanta rapper-singer (or is it singer-rapper?) Future, who opens for Drake at the United Center; Taylor is double booked tomorrow night as he'll also be headlining Reggie's Rock Club.
For most of Taylor's life, rapping wasn't part of the plan. "Football was my life," he says. "That was my blood, that's what I wanted to do." He played safety in high school, but injuries made it impossible to turn football into a career. Taylor became interested in rapping at 15 and he first started experimenting with making music while dropping in on a cousin and friend working on a track Taylor says was weak. "I went in the room and just started messing with Mixcraft," he says. "Went on SoundClick, found me a beat, and I recorded it on the little mike on [the] computer."
Taylor, now 24, says he didn't begin to take rapping seriously until 2011; after earning a bachelor's degree in business administration from New York's Globe Institute of Technology in January 2012, he moved back to Chicago and began focusing on his music career. He linked up with his manager, Andre Thomas, who helped him get a deal with Austin-based Dough Street Entertainment; the company's logo is the first image that appears in the video for "Fe Fe on the Block" and it's also emblazoned on a T-shirt Taylor wears in the clip. There's another name that appears at the start of the video, "YHPHB," which Taylor says stands for Young Hustling Players Handling Business—it's his crew of close friends and musical collaborators.
These days, thanks to the success of "Fe Fe on the Block," Taylor isn't just working on music with folks from YHPHB. Just last week he dropped a song he made with hot Chicago producer C-Sick, who scored a big look in August when he made a track for Dallas rapper Lil Twist that also features Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber—I'm sure the title of the tune, "Twerk," was just enough to keep many folks from missing out on some solid production from C-Sick. The dude's collaboration with Taylor, "1 Nite," is the kind of happy rap made for bopping, as Taylor coats his vocals in a fine layer of Auto-Tune and C-Sick layers in plenty of cheery synths that sound like they could've been made with an Atari. I hope "1 Nite" makes the cut for Taylor's forthcoming debut EP, Stuntin is a Habit, which he says will come out at the end of January—the song is, among other things, a sign that Taylor's got more in him than just "Fe Fe on the Block."