y Kyle Dion’s account, sassy is seen as “being live and saying whatever the f*ck you feel.” Part of what makes Dion’s new music so flagrant across the boards is he has comfortably set foot inside shoes that rightfully belong to him rather than those of an exaggerated persona. His latest album, SASSY, does that musically, reducing the part of SUGA, the famed-dazed muse of his 2019 debut to an understudy and giving himself the lead role.
“It’s definitely the most me I’ve shown any of my fans or people who listen to me. It’s very ambitious and fun, and that’s exactly who I am,” Dion tells Rated R&B over a video call.
Dion kindly asks if he can be heard before the start of the chat. His speaking voice quickly shifts from mellow to livened at the mention of his new album title. While Dion is a product of the ‘90s, he took notes from the year 1987, which saw the release of Michael Jackson’s album, Bad, the follow-up to Thriller.
“Bad, one of my favorite albums from Michael, was a pop-leading album and kind of this bad attitude in his own way,” he shares. “I feel like this [album] was my rendition of that in a sense of a bit of pop, giving more attitude, being a little raunchy, and just having fun and being who I really am.”
Dion released four tracks in the months leading up to SASSY. He started the new era with the gusty, Kari Faux-assisted “Purr,” where he gets turned on by his woman’s bad behavior. He followed with the cure-all throwback “Placebo” featuring Ja Rule, before issuing the big-rich tune “Money,” and the campy topper “Parmesan,”
What inspired you to title the album SASSY?
I saw the definition of sassy, which made me want to name it SASSY even more. It was saying that it was live and boldly but more used on women. I’m just a huge candidate for breaking gender normality, as far as how society thinks people should act and talk based on their sexual orientation. I feel like that’s not correct.
Sexual orientation is something that you’re born with. It’s natural to you. It has nothing to do with how you are existing in the world. That’s another reason why I like to bend and f*ck people’s heads up because you shouldn’t be judging people by the way they act or what they wear and [assuming] that correlates to who they’re sleeping with that night. It doesn’t make any sense. Hopefully, one day, we as humanity don’t have to keep heading that direction because it’s a wack direction if I should say.
You trigger tons of nostalgia on “Parmesan,” where you reference things like Rite-Aid, Child’s Play and Terminator. What’s a childhood memory that lives rent-free in your head?
When you just said that, I just thought of Play-Doh. I don’t know why. I think I played with Play-Doh a lot.
You refer to yourself as pretty a lot on “I Could Be Your Girlfriend.” Is this a brand of self-confidence or self-conceit, and how do you not confuse the two?
Pretty is more so used for women [and] for a girl. It’s just now being turned to where women called guys pretty, or whatever the hell, but it’s more so for that. It’s a self-confidence thing. I wanted to say something that people can say, and they can feel pretty. So, when you say, “I think that I’m pretty,” you’re saying it, and you’re talking about yourself. [It’s] definitely not a cocky mentality, but feeling like, “Yeah, I look good. And you look good too, and you can sing it.”
“Money” is probably one of my favorite tracks from SASSY. What do you spend the most money on these days?
I think clothes. I literally have so much clothes to the point — like I’m in my room talking to you — and there are clothes everywhere. I have a closet that doesn’t fit all and this rack that has to have some more clothes on it. I only wear the clothes once. If I wore it, like in the picture, and I posted it, it’s like, “Okay, that’s done.” Someone can have it, or I’ll sell it back or whatever. If I don’t wear it, then it just sits in my closet. I’m like, “Oh, shit. I haven’t seen that in a while.”
“FAULTLINES” seems like a return to form, flexing more of your strict R&B muscles. How did this song come to be?
“Faultlines” was the last song we made for SASSY. My executive producer, Chris Hartz, had the song. He was like, “Yo. I made this fire-ass song. You guys come over and listen to it.” We came over and listened to it, and it was him singing a lot of it. It was just melodies at that point. I added, “This is dope. We should go in and write it.” Then I went in the booth and [started singing]. I made it more of a vulnerable section of the album where this character is in the midst of the party and thinking of that significant other. I say party because this album is party-esque. I think he had the thought for us, and we went in and wrote it like that, and it became “Faultlines.”
Truly wish “Good Bye, Good Luck” was a full song and not just an interlude. It’s the tender side listeners appreciate about your artistry. Who is this interlude about?
It definitely wasn’t a specific person. It was a song [I wrote] before “Faultlines.” I was, really, really depressed. I’ve never been that depressed in my life. I was so used to being in routine with making this album, and once it was done, I was like, “What else do I have to put into this?” I couldn’t think of anything. That’s what [made] me spiral into two weeks, three weeks to a month of sadness.
My executive producer felt it. Then one night, he was like, “Come over, let’s hang out.” I was like, “Okay.” I went into the booth, and he had this music, and I was like, “Leave me with the music, and I’ll be in the booth.” He went to cook us dinner. I was drinking tequila, low-key drunk, and just sad. I was at a really sad point. I was spilling all of my feelings in the mic. Of course, we thought about it [being a complete song]. We’re like, “This is really good as it could be a full song.” It’s a beautiful song. I would love for it to be a full song, but I like how it’s not. I like how you can keep listening to what it is, replaying it. Maybe I’ll extend it one day. Who knows?
What should we take away from SASSY?
I want listeners to take [it as] not being scared of meeting anyone’s expectations. It’s kind of scary going [a different] route when something already is working. [But] I don’t give a fuck and it’s not fulfilling me as much as what I’m doing now. That’s the most important thing: to be fulfilled and love what you do.
If there’s people who love this album and are excited about it, and it changes their whole perspective on their life right now, that’s amazing. [But] if there’s people that don’t resonate with it, I hope you can at least respect the fact that I was ambitious enough to do something that fulfills me, taking a risk on art. That’s what art is about; taking risks; being ambitious, and showing who you are, and that’s exactly what I did here.
Listen to Kyle Dion’s SASSY new album below.