OKC wasn’t considered to be a hub for anything urban. That’s until Unruly Citizens gained some notoriety after a few small successful shows.
“My favorite show was the first time we brought the Migos. It was a sellout and a lot of Oklahoma City Thunder players were in attendance. It gave me the opportunity to meet my favorite basketball player, Russell Westbrook.”
Kyle Haynes and Blake James, two kids from Moore High School, are the two behind the brand that’s made so much noise locally, bordering on regionally.
Kyle, co-founder of Unruly Citizens journey began in Las Vegas where he was just your average military kid. After a few moves, Haynes landed in Moore, OK where he graduated high school and subsequently attended the University of Oklahoma. He was a finance major, which goes hand-in-hand with what he’s doing today.
Haynes always envisioned himself in the entertainment industry and being his own boss. While in college, he threw shows at various venues, bringing smaller artists to Oklahoma, all while being a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc and participating in everything that comes with that.
“I always wanted to be in the entertainment industry. I like seeing people happy and doing new stuff that people aren’t doing.”
Sometimes, life hits you. Sometimes, knowing what you want to do and achieve in life isn’t the problem. It’s how you go about obtaining those goals that trap people. That was the case with Haynes. He highlights being broke, trying to get money the fast way yet being unsuccessful and nobody believing in his dreams as his biggest obstacles.
Blake James, co-founder of Unruly Citizens is born and raised in Oklahoma City, OK and like Haynes, graduated from Moore high school in 2007. He went from basketball dreams to the music industry and didn’t see it coming, at all.
“My ambitions coming up were completely different than what they are now. I wanted to play in the NBA and be the next Michael Jordan“
After finishing from DeVry University, James chose to continue his education at the University of Oklahoma where he’s in his third semester of grad school majoring in administrative leadership.
This is a huge step for James. Things weren’t always easy for him growing up, which makes his accomplishments even more impressive.
“Coming up was rough for me. I didn’t have access to a lot of resources. But that has helped me appreciate all the success we’ve had so far being a part of Unruly Citizens.”
“I’ve always been fascinated with music but it wasn’t really until the last couple years did I want to be a part of the industry. My business partner Kyle has really influenced me a lot. Once I got a taste of it, I began to fall in love with it. Motivation is really the fans, wanting to make the city proud and give them live content that normally wouldn’t come to OKC.”
When you hear the word ‘unruly’ preceding ‘citizens’ you may take that as something chaotic and rebellious. Think deeper than that.
Unruly Citizens means challenging the status quo but in a positive way. Always asking how is something obtainable and not sticking to what others tell you.
People hear unruly and think it carries a negative connotation but that’s not the case at all.
We’ve mentioned that OKC isn’t a big hub for urban music which is exactly why Haynes and James targeted the area. It was an untapped market. There were concerts, but not consistently and the names weren’t as big. Now, eight concerts into the game, with nine and 10 already booked, Unruly has built an entire culture of hip-hop in the state of Oklahoma.
Criticism comes with making an impact. Especially in this industry. Kyle has an answer for that:
“I just try to not listen to it. We f**k up sometimes. Blake always has my back but we are always trying our best in what we do. We never go into a situation like ‘yeah, this is gonna lose so much money,’ but it happens and we just have to keep pushing and believe in ourselves.”
Which is why they’ve been able to survive and continue to grow.
The growth won’t stop according to the founders. They both have goals they want to accomplish both individually and with Unruly. Blake wants to invest in various businesses and have multiple streams of income so that he’ll never have to work a 9-5 again. Kyle plans to take Unruly into the clothing industry and continue growing as a businessman.
As for Unruly Citizens, they also plan to continue growing, eventually throwing concerts worldwide and not just in Oklahoma. In addition to that, booking tours for artists are on their to-do list and within the next decade, they intend on starting a record label.
Just like Kyle and Blake, chase your dreams no matter where you come from and don’t rule anything out just because you don’t envision yourself doing it.
Their latest concert: Lil Baby comes to the Bricktown Event Center.
Video: Richard Washington
Follow Unruly Citizens on Twitter: @unrulycitizens and Instagram: @unrulycitizens for information on the next artist coming to the 405. Also, check out their clothing collection at unrulycitizens.com.