Kid Ink has accomplished enough within Hip Hop over the past several years to stand on his own against more established peers. Before gracing the then coveted XXL Freshmen cover alongside Iggy Azalea, Future and Macklemore, he’d already gained a sizable following through a slew of mixtape releases ranging from Crash Landing to DayDreamer.
The rapper with an extreme love of body art made his way over to RCA Records a year after releasing his independent album Up & Away. Kid Ink eventually dropped a solid major label debut in 2014’s My Own Lane featuring hit single “Show Me” with Chris Brown. Peaking the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 13, the track represented the album’s good times theme. “He’s essentially setting the tone for a Friday night out,” wrote HipHopDX freelancer E Ortiz. “All the listener has to do is press play.”
Kid Ink plans on tripling his MPH through his recently released sophomore album Full Speed. Featuring singles “Blunted” and the Tinashe and Usher assisted “Body Language,” the project should deliver everything listeners expect from one of LA’s musical turn-up providers.
Taking time to speak with DX, Kid Ink gives the skinny on the approach taken on Full Speed, how Cash Money impacted his music and Iggy Azalea.
Kid Ink Talks Evolution From My Own Lane To Full Speed And Love Of Cash Money
DX: I was at the listening party for Full Speed sometime ago; pretty fun time.
Kid Ink: Thanks bro, appreciate you coming through.
DX: Full Speed comes out a year after My Own Lane. Is there anything you took from that album last year in your approach to the next release?
Kid Ink: You know what happend with My Own Lane is that it was a setup to really see what my new fans and listeners were rocking with more than my old core fans. I know doing a major label situation and a major label album, I did grew more musically and kind of mix-up with new producers and writers to switch things up a little. From there, My Own Lane was suppose to be a finding or testing situation where I was like different lanes and finding my own to see which one responded the most. Me as an artist I feel like I’m all over the place creative wise so I had to find those fans that I really spoke to. With Full Speed, I have the confidence and direction of where to go with everything.
DX: What did you actually discover about your fans between the two releases?
Kid Ink: The sound of things and the songs I sounded the best on. I really pay attention to what fans want including my tone and pitch. Just trying different stuff to see if it sounds good. I try not to have the same style every song but you can still pay attention to see what people rocked with more than the others even if you felt like you had other records that were good enough. I found out how much of certain songs I needed and certain songs I didn’t need. The whole thing was figuring out the balance of the album.
DX: Full Speed has you working with a new crop of producers like Metro Boomin outside of frequent collaborators. Is there something specific you look for when recruiting producers for a new project?
Kid Ink: Not really. For me on the production side of things, I just try to let it myself explore beats on a zip drive or flash drive and roll through them without really focusing on who made the beat. It’s just the sound and the vibe. Sometime I’ll get a beat that sounds crazy on Monday and Wednesday, it doesn’t sound the same. Then Thursday, I’ll have a verse for it and Sunday, I’ll have a different hook. It’s all about balancing it out and giving stuff a chance later on.
DX: Today you dropped the Young Thug and Bricc Baby featured “Like A Hott Boyy.” Was that your way of paying homage to Cash Money?
Kid Ink: Definitely man, I think it was cool way of doing it. That was actually the time and era where Cash Money first got on through Juvenile, Wayne, B.G. , Mannie Fresh, Baby and them. I was kind-of into Cash Money at that time and understood that vibe. I was totally into the white tees and classic Reebok look. I think that was my first real Southern type introduction. I definitely was paying homage to Cash Money. I think the record started with the beginning of the hook and not really concentrating on that. Then we ended with that last line and it sounded so crazy and thought to make the whole record behind the concept. Pay that homage while having fun like The Hot Boys did.
DX: What’s your favorite Cash Money memory?
Kid Ink: My favorite Cash Money moment? Good question. Definitely, probably everything before Young Money. My favorite Weezy moments with Cash Money was probably The Dedication 2. That’s when I started really respecting everything over there. Hip Hop wise when I started listening to Cash Money, it didn’t have anything to do with the lyrics. It was all the vibe; club vibe and energy that made people want to dance and have fun. The records weren’t corny pop. I felt that energy from that. Especially Mannie Fresh, I look up to him production wise.
Relationships With Tyga, Chris Brown And Iggy Azalea
DX: Have any thoughts on the current shake up at Cash Money considering your relationship with Tyga?
Kid Ink: My whole opinion is that business gets in between real friendships and families. That’s always because there’s something personal going on and more so you take things sensitively once people around you do things with tells you someone is stealing from you or doing something. As soon as people here that, even if they try not to feed into it, you take it personal because at the same time when you come into a situation in the business part, it’s as friends. Even the person taking the money may not be researching because they just might not know. I think what happens is that after everything legal gets done, people usually understand and get over it.
DX: The album features Chris Brown assistance on “Hotel.” Chris Brown was featured twice on your debut My Own Lane. What was your first encounter with Brown and how has that evolved over time past “Show Me?” – Chris Brown’s legal and personal troubles aside, what makes you fuck with him as a person?
Kid Ink: I think you know, the first encounter was being in the city and running into each other. Then we finally got a chance to kick it with him in the studio on the outside social aspect of things. When that happened, we built a studio relationship in knowing how each other works. He knows what records to send me and I know what kind of records to send him. We just go from there and end up finishing like three records. This time, we did two records this time and I told the label it wasn’t going to be two on the albums. Didn’t want to repeat the same thing as last time.
DX: Have you talked to him recently about the shooting or court appearances?
Kid Ink: Not since the recent, recent stuff. I think the last time we really interacted was at last year’s Cali Christmas concert in L.A. As far as that, I haven’t seen him after the New Year. I had a chance to stop by the “Ayo” video shoot with him and Tyga but I had a bunch to do. I have seen Tyga the other day and he told me they were working on stuff so we’ll see how it goes.
DX: Full Speed features the popular “Body Language” track with Tinashe and Usher. Was it fun working with R&B’s past and future?
Kid Ink: I think that’s my goal. I try to do that a lot when I get records. Even the R Kelly “Dolo” track, I always thought what if I got someone younger who could match up for an old school/new school vibe. I try to do that just because it’s about the new fans understanding the older cats who exist. Sometimes the older fans say they don’t know these guys.
DX: Out of all the music in your catalogue, what’s been the most difficult to make?
Kid Ink: I think my most difficult track to make was the “Hell and Back” record from Up & Away that I had. It was a good song that I took the time to be more personal. When I was came up and was first being an artist, we all had to deal with more so to let the music side speak for me instead of people judging me but with the “Hell and Back” record, that’s when I first stepped out of the box to talk about issues, things that make me upset and things I had to struggle through which isn’t easy because I had to be a vulnerable person. I see how that makes people react. When people say that songs like those influenced them to get out of situations, it motivates me to do that, once or twice an album.
DX: You made the 2012 XXL Freshmen along with Iggy Azalea. How exactly do you feel about the controversy regarding her? What’s been your personal interaction with her?
Kid Ink: I mean personally think we’re cool and with that issue particularly, I understand where people are coming from on both sides. I think people should stop blaming the artist when it’s not completely the artist’s fault for how politics are played and she’s just in that position. Through it all, when I came up with her doing the XXL Freshmen cover, she was still pushing her music, explaining where she was from and talked about how much of a fan she was of the culture. It wasn’t like she was saying I’m from the hood, I do this and that. At the same time, I know for a fact that when I first got introduced to Iggy, she was around Ty Dolla $ign and YG. These are some of the hoodest guys I know of. From there I can’t take it away from her. Then she’s signed to T.I. so it’s not the Hip Hop side I feel people should be going against.
DX: I saw on Instagram you were a fan of Rae Sremmurd’s debut. Where does that ability to stay in your own lane while acknowledging others in Hip Hop come from?
Kid Ink: It’s me being a fan. At the end of the day, I want to be a fan of the music and it helps me understand more and not lose the momentum of feeling like I need to rebuild with the time or join a new craze. That’s always how I came up in the game. It’s keeping up with the culture and everything that’s going on. Sometimes you run into missteps and sometimes I don’t. With Rae Sremmurd, the first time I heard “No Flex Zone” I was in the car on the way to the airport for like two minutes. When I got to the plane, I was like this song is going to be a hit. I just was watching their whole grind and build, I have no choice but to respect it.
DX: I saw you hanging out with Steve Aoki some months ago. Got some collaborations with him coming soon?
Kid Ink: Me and Steve did the “Delirious” record which was a remix to “Boneless” which went gold. It was new genre and fanbase so I was glad that we got to do that. I hope to be apart of every project he does. He’s invited me to tour and all these shows but I haven’t been able to do that because I was doing 200 dates last year. Getting us both locked down was hard so stuff was kind of crazy.
DX: 200 dates in one year?
Kid Ink: I have no idea. I felt it by the end of the tour like aw man. Just being focused, honestly I don’t even remember all of the shows. You just try to move on to the next one. The biggest thing was having people around me. I don’t go on the road by myself and I try to have good people who have roles. Not just people who are sitting there doing nothing. It makes sense when one of the closest dudes I grew up with is my hype man, someone in my family is my merch person, another one is lighting guy. My road manager is my boy and we all have a system that works for everyone.
Weed Habit And Tattoo Advice
DX: With the single “Blunted,” did you ever get a chance to see the 2 Chainz and Nancy Grace marijuana legalization debate?
Kid Ink: I did man and I thought it was hilarious. I think it’s funny because it really wasn’t a debate. Every time someone tries to debate against marijuana, they end up losing and the show goes on. I never saw a strong argument that makes me want to stop smoking weed. Especially when they use one situation to describe a group of people. If we did that with other things, I’d be a lot we couldn’t do in this world like alcohol.
DX: How much do you normally smoke a month?
Kid Ink: A month; probably around two pounds. On a good day like when I’m running around. If I’m just sitting in the house, I’m smoking less than that. I smoke on occasions like I have somewhere to drive, I go smoke. Gotta eat? Smoke. Driving back? Smoke. Every new thought process I smoke. I have a new idea, I roll up. I have to operate sometimes with a blunt. It keeps me calmer because my mind races so fast. I get a thought and forget about a thought five minutes later.
DX: Is there a favorite food you like to eat afterward smoking?
Kid Ink: I’m a candy man. I don’t really eat food, I just clean out the candy drawer. Chocolate, sour candy and all of that.
DX: What’s the best body part for someone getting their first tattoo?
Kid Ink: You should always go for the arms. If you go to hard, that might turn you off from getting something else. Folks get them on their fingers and stuff and talk about why it hurts so bad. I’m like bro, you go the tattoo in the middle of your neck. Like your fingers are like the worst part to get them first.
Kid Ink: Is there anything I should avoid?
DX: Definitely avoid taking a tattoo off the wall. That’s for drunk people. Unless you can revamp it and make it your own, leave the wall alone. Don’t go for anything outside of the books.