With a loyal fanbase built from the ground up and a growing catalog of radio-friendly hits, LA rapper Kid Ink has managed to carve out a niche for himself — amid an overcrowded sea of rappers. Although his indie debut, Up & Away was released in 2012, it wasn’t until the unexpected double-platinum success of “Show Me,” that the 29-year-old began to appear on most people’s radar.
With his new single heating up the charts and his latest album Full Speed sure to attract even more fans, Kid Ink is poised to keep his winning streak alive whether in or out of the recording booth. Watch as the Cali hitmaker links up with Footaction for the lifestyle behemoth’s Style Means series with a the comic-book themed clip shot by renowned video director Jessy Terrero.
After you watch the clip, check out below as Kid Ink speaks to us about the pressures associated with following up a hit song, whether or not he would ever join the cast of Love & Hip Hop, and more.
Can you explain the collaboration between you and Footaction?
The way I look at it, it’s something to show a little bit more of my lifestyle and my style at the same time. From a regular person standpoint, [it shows] how I go through my regular day all the way until I hit the stage and how that changes up. It makes me a little bit more relatable to the people, and that’s definitely one of the main reasons I’m a part of it. Footaction is something that I grew up on as a kid. So I understand just where they’re at with their kicks and how they kick it to the streets, man.
From a music standpoint, what does the LA scene have to do in order to protect its grip on the game?
I think the first step was breaking out of the old mold — the old Death Row and The Game sound — breaking out of that street gangsta sound. I think that’s how we first did it, we kind of just made it all our own and kind of just spoke for all our different neighborhoods. I think the big thing though, we gotta stick together – like how the South always keep it together. We gotta work together, keep doing records together, keep supporting each other and I think we’ve been doing a great job with that lately.
Your latest single “Be Real” is doing very well right now. How much pressure was there to have a follow that can possibly match the success of “Show Me”?
I try not to put the pressure on myself with any specific song. Of course, there is that pressure of always wanting to do better, and I want to get another number one. I understand the game and how I can switch it up and do different things. I know which records I was always fans of, and “Be Real” was at the top of my list. Even though the label was going around it and other people were telling me this, this, and this— I was like “Nah man, this is that one record.” It was exciting to get that record done and to know that it was a success. If it can do things as big as “Show Me,” it’s just better for me to show and prove that Kid Ink is holding his own, without having the different co-signs that people might think are making my career instead of just myself.
What was it about Dej Loaf that made you want to work with her?
Initially, the respect of her response that was happening. It was something that I just couldn’t deny, and the people around me kept pushing on me [saying], “Pay attention to this girl, she has some potential.” She was probably the only person content-wise that could really make this record believable.
I think from there, me working with a new artist like that there’s a fear of when you get in the studio with them. That you can kind of lead them to go somewhere else and they may not be the same person they are when they’re in the studio by themselves. They might be starstruck or brand new, or not know how to work in front of you. But for me it’s better because I can send the record to her, she can send it back and I still have that confidence to produce it and make it my own without having a bunch of slack. I’ve had artists that I move one word around and I have people get completely mad and not understand where I am coming from. It’s easier to talk to the newer artist and make them understand where you’re coming from, they give a little bit more to you because you’re in a better position.
How important is it to separate a person’s artistry from what’s going on in their personal lives?
There definitely needs to be some type of importance there to the point where people can separate it, because people get through different things by making the good music. They’ll do something faulty, and they make that good record to get them over it and then you’re kind of like telling yourself, “Why did I hold these records against this person for what they did in their real life?” I think when I hung around Chris Brown I could tell that this is somebody who just wants to be regular and chilling with everybody else. When you hit a certain point you kind of just want to chill and be normal and I think sometimes you get caught in normal situations and forget the position you’re in and you kind of slip up sometimes. But people hold it against you like you’re not normal anymore and they don’t remember that you were just trying to chill and have your own moment. I definitely try not to be judgmental to those things when I work with people and hopefully fans and other people can separate that too.
Would you ever join the cast of Love & Hip Hop?
Nah, I already made that decision early. I’m not even gonna say that they were reaching out but I heard there were some words. I shut that down early because I think I’m working too much. When you get into positions on those shows, it kind of takes away [from music]. You have to do different scheduling, you have to do this and that and I’ve noticed a lot of those artist from those shows stop working. When you see them next on those interviews it says “Reality TV Star” and I just never want for it to say “Reality TV Star” under my name before it says “Hip Hop Artist,” “Musician,” “Writer,” or “Producer.” So that’s definitely not my goal.
So that would go for any reality show?
Unless it was something about me and my team, or just me wanting to show people the behind-the-scenes and what’s really going on. It’s more the direction I’m trying to go, instead of having a show that’s going to mess up my relationships because they’re going to try to find a whole bunch of rumors or bring some ex-girlfriend in the room that I didn’t know about and that I gotta deal with.