By Pat Gunther
Los Angeles has been the crux of the hip-hop community ever since NWA came straight out of Compton.
In 2014, with a wide reaching landscape that spans several continents, this is still the case. With many acts coming out of the city of angels, Kid Ink has emerged as a newcomer at the veteran age of 28 after signing his first major-label contract with RCA in late 2013.
In a January interview with Complex magazine, the successful yet malcontent independent known as Kid Ink illustrated why he has signed to a major label, a move that some deem unnecessary in today’s digital age.
“I got independent radio spins before and it was good, but it was just a lot more work,” Kid Ink said. “There’s a lot of things you can’t do as an independent artist, you hit this ceiling. I can definitely feel the difference with the label and the markets I’m reaching now.”
Since then, Brian Collins aka Kid Ink has released an EP, Almost Home, and a full-length album which has been seen far more commercial success, titled My Own Lane.
The latter, which garnered features from fan favorites such as Pusha T, Chris Brown, A$AP Ferg, French Montana and Tyga debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and moved 50,000 copies in its first week alone.
“I set my competition high too,” Kid Ink said. “My peers that I try to compete with, I look at their things and I’m like, ‘They did this. I need to at least do this.’”
Kid Ink’s signature West Coast braggadocio is encapsulated in his singsong verses and catchy, radio friendly hooks. These features, though less appealing to hip-hop purists, who would prefer his TDE counterparts, are still incredibly marketable to large audiences, and above all, true to Collins personality.
“I try to be true to myself yet still at the same time look at comments and look at what the fans have to say and kind of put it in perspective,” he told The Come Up Show in late 2013. “I’m never someone whose not open for opinion, I’m always just down to make it work and see how we can do things, but at the end of the day I always want to make sure it represents me.”
In an industry fueled largely by commercialization of artists and radio plays, Kid Ink’s mentality serves as a refreshing reminder to those struggling independents hoping for a deal and the fame that comes along with it.
Since signing with RCA, Kid Ink has been able to gain exposure within the industry and attract impressive production from the bay area’s own DJ Mustard, in addition to receiving advice from hip-hop guru Pharrell Williams.
When Kid Ink takes the stage at the Varsity Theatre on May 27, it’s a safe bet to say that the place will be packed. By securing impressive features, feet-moving beats and a style that he calls his own, Kid Ink will bring the passion and energy that propelled him from a struggling independent toiling away in LA for many years to one of the most watched up-and-comers in the 2014 rap scene.