By Braxton Randolph
Hailing from Pampano Beach, FL, Kodak Black is basically a 2017 Hot Boy. If you don’t know, the Hot Boy$ were a group back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s that consisted of Cash Money artists Lil Wayne, Juvenile, B.G., and Turk. They were known for their storytelling ability and gritty lyrics about street life and all that came with it, similar to Kodak’s music today. However, the Hot Boy$ didn’t give us the Kodak Bop, nor the dance everybody does when “Tunnel Vision” comes on (I have no idea what the dance is called), so we may have to give the edge to Kodak.
With a bevy of criminal cases that have impeded his career, the self-proclaimed Project Baby brings us his debut studio album, Painting Pictures, a follow up to last year’s successful Lil Big Pac mixtape. Although Kodak currently finds himself behind bars again for a probation violation stemming from a past case, his impact within hip-hop is widespread. Known for his vivid storytelling ability within his music, Kodak delivers a refreshing twist to today’s “trap-rap” that currently dominates the hip hop scene. Like always, Kodak brings his unique flow and southern drawl over a variety of beats that truly display not only his storytelling ability, but his overall talent as an artist.
The album starts off with a 5-track run consisting of what are arguably the best songs on the album. The first seconds of the intro track are Kodak basically telling you everything I’ve already told you to this point: “I don’t rap, I illustrate / I don’t paint pictures, I picture paint.” Kodak also explains that “You know I’m a hot boy, but I never lose my cool.” On the intro track, titled “Day for Day,” Kodak goes on to rap about the struggles of growing up in the projects living life in and out of jail. He describes his situation as frankly as possible with lyrics such as: “I was already sentenced before I came up out the womb,” and “The streets done already sentenced me before the [judge] could.” If you know anything about Kodak’s story, you know the authenticity of his words are a major reason why people are able to gravitate toward his music. This guy really grew up in the projects of Florida with a mother who was an immigrant from Haiti. It’s like if Seinfeld had a baby with Snow on tha Bluff, and the baby grew up to be a rapper. In other words, this is just Kodak rapping about his everyday life (which just happens to be crazy), which allows him to be a more effective storyteller.
My favorite track at the moment is “Up in Here,” where Kodak goes full Kodak in referring to women’s reproductive organs as Ramen Noodle “soup,” chicken noodle soup, mac and cheese, and gumbo. If I had to guess, I would say that this is going to be the next club hit after “Tunnel Vision” dies down a bit more or when people catch on, whichever comes first. Another favorite of my is the more somber “Corrlinks and JPay,” which is produced by Eardrummer’s Mike Will Made It. I will admit: when I first saw the title, I had no idea what “Corrlinks or JPay” was. However, later I found out Corrlinks is the program used to write incarcerated individuals, and JPay is the program used to send them money. I’m not exactly an expert on prison culture, but I just feel like incorporating something that intricate into your music just attests to the authenticity of it all. On this track, Kodak goes on to rap about the dark situations that being locked up brings, such as girlfriends leaving you and waiting on JPay just to eat that day. Kodak puts it better than I do, rapping, “For all my [homies] waiting on some pictures through the Corrlink, I know your people ain’t keep it real like they supposed to be.”
Painting Pictures pretty much follows the same blueprint as Lil Big Pac, as far as tone and flow go. There are a few club songs amongst a variety of narrative songs, which is what we’ve come to expect from Kodak. I’m predicting a lot of these songs will get a lot of run going into the summer, because the best way to truly enjoy Kodak’s music is to blast it at ignorant levels in a car with the windows down. Overall, a solid project!