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From Kenya to Kanye West, KayCyy's unique journey has Minnesota roots

Minnesota music artist, KayCyy, performs Tuesday night at First Avenue and 7th St. Entry after being part of Kanye West's original "Donda" album release.

NEW HOPE, Minn. — Although "Donda" had reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart 10 times, Kanye West released another version of it Tuesday, removing tracks with featured artists including Chris Brown and Minnesota's KayCyy.

The update comes one day short of a month since Ye first dropped the album on Aug. 29.

"That's just Ye being Ye," KayCyy told KARE 11 in a follow-up phone call after meeting for an interview at Winterland Studios on Tuesday.

KayCyy was born in Kenya. At 9 years old, he and his brother joined their dad in Minnesota. Their mom later joined the family after winning a green card lottery drawing.

"Reason being why we came here, it's just like for any immigrant or anybody that tries to come to America, for like, the American dream," KayCyy said.

KayCyy has always opted for gospel music. Take the first song he ever wrote.

"I still remember the melody, yeah," KayCyy said. "It was called like 'Why Should I Fear Tomorrow 'Cause the Lord Is Already There.'"

After high school, KayCyy says he ran away from home to pursue music in New York.

"Both my parents didn't feel great about it at first," he said. "Being my parents are African, it's probably even more strict so it's like they didn't want to. You know what I'm saying? It's all about school."

Today, he says his parents are proud of him. Over the last three years, KayCyy's music career has grown to where he's collaborated with artists including Justin Bieber, Travis Scott and Chris Brown.

"One of the first artists I met was probably Akon," KayCyy said.

Credit: KARE 11

Akon's brother, Bu Thiam, is KayCyy's manager. KayCyy says Thiam introduced him to many artists, including Ye. Thiam is also Ye's manager.

"When I met him that day all I did was probably play him one song and it was on my phone," KayCyy said.

Since then, Kaycee says he helped write three songs for Ye, which Ye included on the original "Donda" album. The tracks are entitled "Hurricane," "Praise God" and "24." 

Not only that, a song featuring KayCyy's vocals made the cut. KayCyy's voice is the first one heard on the track, "Keep My Spirit Alive."

"You know how he was doing those listening events? He did one in Atlanta," KayCyy said. "One in Chicago. So it was like — it was surprising. You didn't know [in advance] which one made the cut."

KayCyy says he's learning a lot from working with Ye.

"The word I would just say is an experience," KayCyy said. "He has his hands in like the clothes and like just everything. Agriculture. He's trying to do a whole bunch of stuff, like, let me build a city here. Let me build some stuff in Wyoming. Let me run for president and actually do it. So it's kind of like ... that's what I kind of learn from him."

Now an LA resident, KayCyy keeps his connections alive in Minnesota.

On Tuesday, Sept. 28, he performs live at First Avenue and 7th St. Entry in a show called Stars of Tomorrow featuring DCMBR, J. Plaza, J. Monte with Loki952, Prince Riley, and DJ Enferno.

On Friday, Oct. 1, KayCyy will perform during his alma mater's homecoming event. KayCyy attended Tartan High School in Oakdale.

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