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Meet Kuru, the 17 Year Old Hyperpop Prodigy from Maryland

Outside Songbyrd in Northeast Washington, I had the chance to speak with Kuru, a rising producer, singer, and rapper from the DMV area. Kuru’s music incorporates an astonishingly wide variety of sounds, from bass-heavy drill hip-hop up to light, melodic, and playful hyperpop. During his performance, the energetic artist found his flow over frenetic and fast-paced hip-hop beats with heavy doses of synthesizer sounds, delivering his high-pitched and autotune-augmented bars over fluttering hi-hats and booming kicks. After the set, I interviewed Kuru about his unique sound, experience playing live, and some of his favorite performances.

Growing up in Montgomery County, Maryland, and living mainly in Maryland in adulthood, Kuru mentioned he feels comfortable at shows in the D.C. area. Often surrounded by close friends and familiar faces in the backyard of where he considers home, he performs with all the confidence in the world.

It was clear that at this particular show, however, Kuru was out of his element. As just one artist on a considerable list of openers, few people in the crowd of around 50 to 70 people came to the show to watch Kuru play. After about a 20 minute set, I could tell he was visibly disappointed that not many people in the audience showed the same enthusiasm for the performance as he did. Still, Kuru shrugged off the experience, recognizing how differences between his music and fanbase from that of headliners Acid Souljah and Christ Dillinger contributed to the crowd’s passiveness.

As I would come to learn, unenthusiastic crowds have been the least of Kuru’s troubles throughout their career as a live performer. Kuru recounted one frustrating experience to me: “There was one time where I played my set and the show was 21+, but they still booked me, which is f*cking weird because I was 17 at the time. After my set, the security guard tried telling me: ‘You’re underage, you can’t be here.’ I’m sitting here like bro, y’all paid me to be here! I ended up getting kicked out of the show right after I performed, and I wasn’t able to see my friends’ sets, which f*cking blew, but it’s whatever.”

From the humility he expressed to the playful recall of disappointing experiences, I sensed a mature aura from Kuru that I’m not sure I expected. As a self-proclaimed “SoundCloud kid,” Kuru began making music in his early teenage years, but started to devote more time to his art during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the months of lockdown in 2020, Kuru produced and recorded anything and everything, from breakbeat-infused experimental pop songs to semi-satirical rap songs about the hit video game “Among Us.” Eventually, this mixed bag of projects began to generate serious numbers on Soundcloud, and Kuru really began to take his music seriously: “I didn’t even expect to get traction. I expected to live a normal a*s life as a computer science student, going to some coding studio or whatever. But when COVID hit and I really started going crazy for no reason, I was like holy sh*t, this could really be something crazy, so I started going for shows as soon as the lockdown was ending.”

Hunsinger pictured with Kuru outside Songbyrd

Kuru shared even further about using music as an outlet during COVID when he wasn’t in school and felt disconnected from friends. “COVID was weird, because I wasn’t really doing school or talking to anyone, but I was really locked in with music, and I haven’t really been locked in since,” he shared I’ll have weeks or months where I really get in the artistry vibe, but COVID was non-stop, do this, do that, push everything out.” While he admitted that he felt his drive wasn’t completely resolute as it was during the pandemic, it seemed the opposite to me as we continued to delve deeper into Kuru’s future plans for himself as an artist.

Between the sporadic shows and singles released on streaming platforms, the last 13 months of Kuru’s life have been devoted to creating his first album. Upon mentioning it, though, Kuru’s friends erupted into laughter in the background, giving me the sense that the album hadn’t quite come together in the way that he intended. This could be why he didn’t want to reveal even as much as a title, but was still willing to speak on the concept, commenting, “I really want to make [the album] a really cool piece of work. I think dropping singles and stuff is fun, but I really want something that defines me as an artist, and I think this project will be incredibly important for that.” Kuru teased that the album will bring together a team of visual artists to create art to accompany and further allow it to stand out.

Discussing his favorite artists and producers to work with, I was amazed by Kuru’s laundry list of past collaborators, both on the production and vocal side. His casual mention of artists who I consider legends as his peers, such as xaviersobased, quinn, blackwinterwells, and midwxst, left my jaw on the floor. I gained a new level of excitement that any next project of his would contain insane collaborations sure to expand upon his hyper digitized hip-hop sound. With sparse information, fans like myself can only hope that Kuru is building something great behind the scenes.

Yet, my interview gave me something to hope for as Kuru’s deeper motivation revealed itself—crafting a new legacy. He echoed his prior sentiment of being a “SoundCloud kid,” and feeling as if he had to prove he was not simply another fleeting trend. To Kuru, being taken seriously starts with crafting a full-length album. The singles he has uploaded to streaming services over the past few months, along with the snippets he has posted to Twitter, show off a new and refined sound. Although his album remains a formless and shapeless idea amidst this sea of singles and snippets, these tastes of the forthcoming record reflect the creative zeal of an artist truly ready to reach the next phase of their career. For now, Kuru’s name will stay on the list of tour posters and festival set lists, giving his all until he finds a crowd that gives the same back.


Jasper Hunsinger is a Junior in the SFS, studying Culture & Politics


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