Crew Cuts: Team Bonding with Super Duper
Crew Cuts is Green Label’s series wherein we unpack a creative collective’s dynamic by asking its members to talk about each other’s most valuable assets.
This go-around, we sat down with Super Duper, a Los Angeles-based melange of rappers, graphic designers, managers, photographers, aux cord wizards, Snapchat dons, In N’ Out savages, and, most importantly, best friends. Though rapper KYLE is the squad’s ringleader in the eyes of the public, it’s his behind-the-scenes team that keeps Super Duper thriving.
Built organically, either through longstanding friendships or kindred spirits discovered via social media, Super Duper resembles a family more than a business-oriented collective, emphasizing the importance of positivity and community to build Super Duper as a brand and lifestyle.
Kyle’s just-released album Smyle wholeheartedly progresses this ethos, encouraging these uplifting attitudes and the importance of being part of something bigger than one’s self.
“When I first started calling myself Super Duper Kyle, it was almost like an alter ego of mine. It was a person who could do anything—one who had the most confidence. It was like a superhero version of myself. That’s what everyone in it represents: a superhero version of themselves. When you’re in this group, you believe you can do anything.”
Brick: Kyle is the leader. He’s really optimistic and has a super positive attitude, so he’s a really good mediator at the end of the day. Everybody in the group is really creative, so whenever there are new ideas, Kyle’s always down to rock with them.
Zini: He’s a good role model because the dedication he puts into his craft is really inspiring. We all do different things and we all want to perfect our own work, and seeing all of the hours and hours Kyle puts into rapping sets a high bar for the rest of us.
Nolan: Kyle has a very calming presence that ties all the threads together and makes the team work really well, from a leadership standpoint. It brings the best qualities out of each of us.
UGLY: Kyle brings everybody a lot of hope. He wants people want to go forward and do better for themselves. If it wasn’t for him, who knows where everybody in this room would be?
Zini, Style Director
Kyle: Zini is such a mood improver for everybody, especially for me. When I met Zini, I just found him to be this really cool person who I always wanted to kick it with and be around. He always adds great energy and gives us the gas to keep going. Any time any part of this sucks, or we have to do something we don’t really want to do, if we bring Zini, it’s like, well at least it’ll be fun!
He also kills it fashion-wise. I don’t really care about that sometimes, but Zini reminds me to care about my clothes.
Nolan: Zini’s the ultimate socialite. Everybody knows him and everybody likes him. He get us to be social, too. Sometimes we hang out at our own crib in Culver City and do our own little tasks, and we don’t get out much. And especially with what we’re embarking on, it’s important to go out and be social.
UGLY: You can be at your saddest point in the day, and Zini will come by and pick you right up. He’ll let you crash on his couch, and he just takes care of everyone.
Jesus: he also has the best Snapchat stories of all time.
Jesus, Tour Manager
Brick: I think it’s a unanimous decision that Jesus is the nicest person on the Earth. You know how people say that they have friends that would take a bullet for them? Jesus will actually jump in front of that bullet if he’s fast enough to get there.
Zini: Best tour dad of all time.
Scoobs: He’s super selfless, too. At the house, we were one bed short, and without any hesitation, he took the couch.
Nolan: He’s definitely team-first. He’s very team-oriented and puts everyone before himself.
Kyle: And he makes everyone likes that. It’s so vital that everyone in this room is always there, and it’s so important that Jesus is around all the time because he keeps me a good person. I can’t be mean when I think about how good of a person Jesus is. He holds the surfboard when I surf the crowd on it, and I’ll look back and see him struggling, but he’s always happy to do it.
Brick, DJ/ Photographer/ Backup Dancer
Kyle: Brick is a reflection of the youthful me that I remember and love so much. When I first started working with Brick, he was always so ahead of his age. He’s really ahead of the curve, and it’s nonstop inspiration for everybody. Especially when it comes to my creative ideas, Brick is the person I can share them with the easiest. Brick gets me.
Nolan: When I describe Brick to other people, I’ll say he’s a child genius. He’s so gifted and talented. That’s not even his hair, it’s how his head is shaped because his brain is so big.
Maxx: Brick is the ultimate best friend. You need someone who can blow up the aux, who can give you advice, and who’s really confident and can make you feel more confident in yourself.
Sean D: He wants all of his homies to strive as much as possible and wants to connect them with anyone who might be able to help them. Last tour, Brick went on this rant about “passing the plug,” which is a very rare idea these days.
Jesus: First he started as a photographer, then he came a backup dancer, then he decided he wanted to DJ. We played a show Boston in front of 1800 people, and it might have been the fifth time Brick had ever DJ’d, but he was rocking the whole crowd.
UGLY: When he first met me, he didn’t know anything about me, but he was down to shoot my music video. It was so tight. Brick keeps me up-to-date with being creative and making me the best I can be. Even when we’re in New York, he’s linking me with SoundCloud producers and helping me get on this great path.
Eric Wada, Designer
Nolan: Eric does graphic design for us, he does a lot of art direction, he’s a pretty critical tastemaker, and he smoothes the edges of our creative ideas. He built Kyle’s first website, and he still does all of our web work along with Scoobs. These guys are super vital. We’re all really creative, but these guys do a lot of the actual heavy lifting when it comes to the products we’re presenting, whether it’s tangible merchandise or videos. They’re very hard-working, dedicated people who don’t get as much credit as they should.
Kyle: He’s been a critical component of this since the beginning. Any part of the Internet work that I don’t know how to do, we’re like, “We need Eric!” The album leaks? Eric. Website goes down? Eric. He’s also really on top of things, which sometimes it goes unnoticed but is super, super appreciated.
Nolan: That’s also a testament to their dedication. These guys are really talented and could be making a lot more money working for someone else, but they see the vision, they have since the beginning, and we’re so lucky for that.
Brick: Plus Eric has Yeezy Boosts.
Brick: Super Duper Maxx originated at a show in Santa Ana. He was just a fan, and he sent us a tweet like, “You guys need anything?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, bring us 10 burgers, animal style, 10 drinks, and one order of fries, and I’ll give you backstage passes.” Maxx pulled up with In n’ Out for the whole squad.
Nolan: The rest is history.
Kyle: He was at three shows before that, though! On my very first headlining tour, that was really, really, small, Maxx came out several times. He believed in this before he was even a part of it. And then when we worked with him for the first time and brought him to the ‘Raining Love’ shoot, Maxx was on the side, sweeping the dirt off the street near the set. Overachieving.
Jesus: On the tour we did with Watsky, Maxx was the only one who would drive, so me and him shotgunned the whole time. Whenever I wasn’t feeling up to the drive, Maxx got me. Then when we drove across the US, Maxx and I were doing these back-to-back driving shifts. Through that, he became one of my best friends. If I need someone to vent to, I’ll go to Maxx.
Kyle: Ultimate team player.
Kyle: He’s a super hard worker. He puts everybody else first, to an extreme point. He’s the type of guy to offer you all his food if you don’t have any, or sleep on the ground if there’s only one bed.
Jesus: He’s also the hitter. If you’ve got a problem, he’ll take care of it for you.
Nolan: But he’s also one of the nicest people. You almost don’t understand how he has that other switch.
Jesus: There’s so much surrounding him. He has so much love and happiness for others, but he’s also a dope rapper, who has amazing music and videos, and he has all of this other stuff going on. You wouldn’t realize that, though, because his focus is so much on other people, that it’s amazing how he has time to do his own thing. He’s that kind of hard worker.
Sean D, Photographer
Nolan: Sean D shoots. That’s a good way to sum it up. When we talk to family and friends about touring, and we tell them we have this photographer and plug his social media, we’ll say, “His name is @seandshoots, and boy, does he shoot.”
Brick: Sean has set the bar so high for photographers at Super Duper. He’s done so much for our visuals. But he’s from New York, so we’ll be in LA, looking for someone to shoot, but no one compares to Sean.
Nolan: After every show, like, before we even got back to the hotel, Sean would have a Dropbox file full of photos already in your inbox.
Kyle: That was so inspiring to me. When we first started touring with him, I was completely moved! That first Dropbox folder had way over 100 pictures. And he did that every single night. I was like, “Damn, how is he doing this!?” How am I not writing three or four raps a day if Sean can take and edit hundreds of pictures in a night?
Nolan: UGLY actually found Scoobs online. He was very down to work from the jump. He’s a really talented graphic designer and down to make anything. There are no limits to what we can do with him and Wada on the team. I’m really inspired by his commitment to this; he picked up his life, drove from Michigan to LA so he could live with us and sleep on our floor. That says so much.
UGLY: A while back, Scoobs hit me up to do some work. Within three months, we had a whole website, we came up with merch, and he was calling me all day to get things moving forward.
Eric: Scoobs has been the missing link. There was a point when the stuff I was doing may have been limited in terms of my graphic design background, and Alex has been able to come in and take my work to the next level.
Kyle: The biggest thing that stood out to me was how much he wants to get involved. It’s ridiculous. Every time I talk to him about something, he has damn near more information than a lot of us. There are a lot of things he knows that he enlightens us with. He always wants to do more.
Nolan Smith, Manager
Kyle: When it comes to music, I’ve always had my friends supporting me, but I always felt like the mission was a lone one. When I met Nolan, it was the first time I felt like someone believed in me and wanted to help me go forward. That was the first time I had those kind of conversations about the future, branding, and the bigger picture. Nolan has been one of the key factors to making this happen. It goes beyond music, too. Nolan will help you with your personal life more than most people will. And when it comes to Super Duper, Nolan is the glue that holds this whole thing together.
Brick: Nolan sees the whole Super Duper thing as a vehicle. There are a lot of moving parts in that vehicle, and Nolan is making sure they’re all clicking cylinders at all times. He helps us through so much. That’s my dad.
UGLY: Nolan is such a great friend. As I battled with a bunch of different things, Nolan was always there to help. He’s always had his arms open to me, and he’s always treated me with utmost respect. I’m only a couple years younger, but I aspire to be like Nolan.
Scoobs: Nolan has the vision and will work tirelessly in the things he believes in, even when he has a lot going on. I have no idea how he keeps track of everything.
Zini: Nolan really inspires me and got me on a better track. Before working with Kyle, Nolan was like, ‘Yo, you dress cool, maybe you could start giving Kyle some styling tips.’ The next thing you know, I was working on the videos, which opened up lanes for me. If it wasn’t for him building up that confidence, I don’t know what I’d be doing right now.
Images: Sean D