Music has been in the life of Kenneth Blackmore Jr. — also known as South Plaza Kyd — ever since he can remember. Growing up the people around him used it as an escape from the circumstances they found themselves in. Blackmore grew up in South Phoenix in the early-2000s where he was witness to the harsh realities of poverty.
South Phoenix plays a huge part in Blackmore’s identity, donned “SOUTH PLAZA KYD” he says his name came from respect to a place that he spent a lot of time in – South Plaza. “My mom and I relied on that place for everything growing up, groceries at the dollar store, Sam’s for the fresh fade and K Momo for the school clothes,” Blackmore said, “That place is really near and dear to my heart because my life is in that plaza.” As for the rest of his stage name, “KYD” came from his proximity in appearance to the artist Christopher Reed better known as Kid from the famous rap-duo Kid ‘n Play.
Blackmore started rapping at the age of 16, where he said hanging out with friends would transition into creating music. He realized how serious he was about his art at the age of 18. “My pops left the state when I was 16 and my mom had to go be with my sister in Colorado so around that time I had to drop out of high school and become my own man,” Blackmore said.
The stress of his living situation created a hunger for stability. “It was really tough, but my best friend had just bought the homies and I fresh studio equipment so we finished the lease at my mom’s apartment and made about 5 songs a day every day,” Blackmore said. He released his first mixtape within two months right of his mom leaving too.
The music of South Plaza Kyd became a reflection of what he saw around him, but he noticed that the music itself was a form of healing. “It all seemed like everything was fine because of the music everybody played, even during the worst times. The music was the cure,” Blackmore said.
Jayla Lawrence, a 23-year-old photographer, has known Blackmore since high school. Lawrence says that she has watched him grow as an artist, “[He has learned] to incorporate his other interests with his music and it’s been cool to watch how he takes the time to properly execute those ideas together,” Lawrence said. She said that Blackmore is very in tune with those around him and empathizes with people’s situations which can be heard in the music he creates.
Blackmore is now 23-years-old, he has been developing his craft, building a fan-base earning popularity with his song, “What It Do”, that some consider it as a Phoenix classic record. His song has over 33 thousand streams on soundcloud, with over 30 comments on the music video, produced by Valley Club Record.
Teddy Oso, 23-year-old Phoenix artist, would agree. “With tracks like ‘What It Do’ I can roll my windows down and bump that record proudly cause it sounds like a classic West Coast song but it’s from Phoenix.” He said that KYD’s music is a familiar sound mixing modern G-funk with production characteristics of The Neptunes.
The community of South Phoenix has been appreciative of Blackmore’s art, reading through the hundreds of comments left on his music posts. Oso said, “He’s giving them something to listen to and be proud of.”
Blackmore credits his success to the content in his music. “I’m not talking about killing anybody or being a gangster. I’m talking about people [trying to] feed their families that eventually [want to] have a million-dollar-bloodline,” Blackmore said.
Blackmore has a bigger plan in mind for the Phoenix music scene, one where collaboration births a more concrete identity for the city. “ I’d just like to see people begin to work outside of their comfort zone, because going against the grain is the best edge any artist can have right now and Phoenix is evolving at a fast rate right now,” Blackmore said.
Blackmore released his latest project, “GOIN 30” in October on the streaming platform Soundcloud. It has already got hundreds of plays with it’s most popular song on project, “FAST” getting over 1,300 plays.