Kay Eye prides himself in his lyricism and melodies, a breath of fresh air in the music industry. His upbringing on Chicago’s westside is what fuels his desire to be great, while always making it his mission to create music with substance. Kay Eye describes himself as “a man of many gifts.” He adds, “I’m a music artist, I’m an actor. I am a self-master. I’m whatever the situation calls for. But first and foremost, I’m a creator.”
For those who watch Power Book IV: Force, Kay Eye is known as the character Greyskull, who’s a fan favorite on the show. Having acted since he was 19 years old, the new role solidifies the power in hard work and manifestation. Kay Eye also stands firmly on maintaining his health: physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
AllHipHop spoke with Kay Eye in downtown Los Angeles to discuss his background, name, how he landed the role on Power, the importance of health and more.
AllHipHop: How would you describe your sound?
Kay Eye: I would describe my sound as unorthodox, unbounded by genre. Wisdom, but player. Love, but dark. Bars, but vibes. A blend of melodies with sharp, lyrical raps. I pull a lot of my musical inspiration from R&B, Hip Hop, and Neo Soul. I’m really an R&B man at heart, it was my first love.
AllHipHop: What was it like growing up in Chicago?
Kay Eye: It ain’t like TV [laughs]. Don’t get me wrong, you definitely experience a lot of the downside of life, but my childhood is full of great memories. I had real fun growing up in Chicago. Juke parties, hopping on the CTA to travel all through the city, summertime, starting to go to the studio at a super young age, yea all of that overpowered the negativity for me. A lot of people just get caught up in the motions, but that’s an inspiring factor to get out, to make it out. Struggle was very common, but I feel like Chicago prepared me with the mental strength to be successful anywhere. We just handle and look at things way different than other places do. I’ve lived in Mississippi and Tennessee as a kid too, so I can see the differences.
AllHipHop: When do you fall in love with music?
Kay Eye: When I was 3 years old. I saw the movie The Temptations. The guy who played David Ruffin, Leon, he reminded me of my father. They look similar. My pops is a singer as well. I would get confused ’cause I’d see him, then I’d see my father singing in church. It tweaked me out ’cause I would think they were the same person. I started emulating the same thing I saw on TV and I saw my father doing and just kept building from there. My whole pop’s side of the family, they all sing and play instruments. That’s just something that we come with.
AllHipHop: How’d you get your name?
Kay Eye: I created it. I used to go by KID Will. That was my name when I started off, I was 15. That stood for King In Death Will. It was KID so at the beginning of my songs, I used to tag it like K-I. But I didn’t finish the whole name. When I went through a stage of spiritual awakening, and I was evolving not only as an artist, but as a man first, I didn’t connect to the name anymore. I didn’t like people calling me “kid.” Even though that’s not what KID stood for, I didn’t like the fact that when you addressed me, you called me “kid.”
I started playing with names like hmm, what could be the shift? What spoke to me as a new name? Kay Eye is a fusion between Kemetian language, Spanish language, and American language (English). Ka stands for soul, Eye is the vision part of it. It stands for soul sight/soul vision (See-er). At that time, I was very heavily into my personal spiritual development, and historical studies. The name just fell into its rightful place.
AllHipHop: What do you want people to get from Power Pak?
Kay Eye: I want people to get an introduction, first and foremost. Even though it’s not my personal introduction, it’s a lot of people’s introduction to me, because it’s tied into Power, Power: Force. What I want people to take from it is to move in your power at all times. That’s the approach I took with this project, it was the theme of my life at that time.
AllHipHop: Was it when you were on Power, the show?
Kay Eye: I got word after. I already had the songs. Because I felt like I was going to book the role, but I didn’t get the confirmation that I got the role until after I put the joint together. So you could say it was a manifestation. I put the project together, but didn’t get the confirmed word until after. I’m like.. if l put this together and put that energy behind it like this is the Power Pak, it’ll come. And it did.
AllHipHop: How’d you land the role on Power?
Kay Eye: I got the word from my agent that Power: Force was looking for new cast members for the second season. I immediately got to work on the audition that same day. I submitted like three takes, and the rest is history.
AllHipHop: So you’ve been acting already?
Kay Eye: Yeah, I’ve been acting seriously since I was 19. I started off on a YouTube series. We didn’t know how to really break into the industry like that. Chicago is not L.A., nothing like that s###. We really got to get it out the mud ourselves. Back then, the only thing that Chicago had as far as the acting industry and shows, was Empire and your local network shows like Chicago P.D., Fire and Med.
We had our own YouTube series, that was really our school for real. That was acting school for us. Every single weekend, I didn’t have the typical early 20s. Partying in a dorm or whatever the case may be. I left that life in high school, I grew up fast. By the time I got to my early 20s, I wanted to work. I wanted to go toward my goals and what I wanted. Every single weekend, we were acting. We were filming. I ended up getting a part in Chi-Raq, Spike Lee’s movie. I didn’t have any lines, but I was in that motherf###er.
AllHipHop: That counts.
Kay Eye: Yeah, that was my entry. So, I’m like, “OK, I can take this from YouTube and really go somewhere higher.” That’s when it finally clicked for me. Now, I got a lil blueprint. Even though higher is what I was always striving toward, it takes for certain things to transpire along your path for it to click and become clearer on how to get there. I ended up getting signed to my agency, Hayes Talent Agency, from going to an open call audition. So many auditions. I’ve been on hundreds of auditions. A lot of no’s, but you gotta be built for it in this industry.
I finally hit with Chicago P.D. OK. I had a co-star role in that. I was supposed to have the guest star role, but since it was my first time being on TV, they demoted me to the co-star role. It wasn’t even the role I auditioned for. They said, “We gotta go with somebody that’s already been a part of SAG. He’s already been on TV before, he knows what he’s doing.” Alright cool, I’ll play my part. So I did that. After that, a hundred more auditions.
Finally got that call for Power. Back when Power Force first had the spinoff, I said I was gon’ be on that show. I didn’t know how. My agent sent out the news that she was getting the casting for it, I’m like aw yeah I gotta get on this, but I never got an audition for it. Well s###, somehow I’m still gonna get on it. And that’s when it finally came. It’s funny [laughs]. When I got the news I got the role, I was on five grams of shrooms.
AllHipHop: I love that, so you were probably lit off your a##.
Kay Eye: I was fired up. While I was off the shrooms, that’s all I was thinking about. Damn, this role. Because a week and a half had went past and I hadn’t heard nothing at all. I woke up the next morning, I’m still half sleep. I’m not even all the way coherent, back to my full sober self, then I got that call from my agent. Me and the shrooms did what we needed to do to lock that in.
AllHipHop: How was the experience shooting?
Kay Eye: It was incredible. I really, I really understood on Episode 4, me and Kris Lofton, we got the fight scene. That’s my prominent scene. During that scene, I fell in love with it all over again. I really understood damn, this is why I spent 10 years going after this s###. Even though it’s majority no’s, you know how that grind is, you finally get that yes. In that moment where not only you, but everybody around you can understand “OK, this is what he does. This is why he does it.” I got a lot of validation from everybody on set that day.
AllHipHop: Any goals for yourself as an artist? Or actors?
Kay Eye: Absolutely, I want the Grammy. I want the Oscar. I want the top accolades. Truthfully, it’s not like a Grammy or any award validates me as an artist. I know who I am already. I know that I have high level talent. But let’s say you’re a chef. You want to be flipping s### on the grill at KFC? Nah, you want the highest achievement of what that lane has to offer. For me, that’s what we all grew up watching. I want those things because that’s what I wanted as a kid, the top accolade of what it is that I do. I want to be in that bracket as one of the “super artists” like Brandy, 2Pac, Ice Cube, Will Smith, Jamie Foxx. That’s what I’m on.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let the people know?
Kay Eye: So many things. One of my passions, what I want to spread the knowledge and understanding of throughout my community, the Black community — and people who ain’t got nothing, we don’t get access to certain sides of life. Health has always been very important to me, I really accredit my health to why I was able to even make it as far as I made it. Being health conscious, knowing what you put into your body.
I fast very often. Leading up to Power: Force season 2 debuting, I did a 70-day fast. I did a 40-day fruit fast. Thirty days after that, it was me getting acclimated back to a regular diet. That completely shifted my mind. As a person, it opened the doors for my career. I’ve never been as clear, as mentally sound ever in my life as I am now.
I want to let people know to step in your power. If you have something you’re passionate about, you only got one life to live. What you sitting on your a## for? People know when they’re wasting time. People know when they could be doing something better with their time, that leads them to their goals. So always stay in that. It’s gonna be a lot of distractions, but you gotta do what you gotta do to stay focused and on point.