From indie artist to mainstream musician, rapper Kid_Ink makes his RCA full length debut with the latest album My Own Lane. Like a high school student moving onto college or a young player being drafted into the big leagues, the transition from independent artist to major label signee was only a natural progression for the already widely successful artist. However like so many talented artist in the past, being backed by such by such a large corporation creates a conflict in the creative process. With this latest album, Ink borders the line of the innovative and interesting and clichéd.
Now if you don’t really follow blogs or are under a proverbial music rock, Kid Ink might not be a familiar name to you. The west coast emcee, born Brian Collins in Los Angeles, re-introduces himself to new listeners on the opening, and self-explanatory track “Hello World”. The Futuristics produced couldn’t save the lack luster flow and delivery of this track either. The following Danja’s produced “The Movement” falls into the same category of the uninspiring. Another take on starting a, wait for it, a movement but the beat and lyrics fail to incite action in the listener. Though it may not be the case, the firs two tracks do little to set up the tone for the album and come across as more of generic, label entries than new concepts.
The album later picks up momentum with the following tracks as Ink appeals more to the female listeners. The Chris Brown-assisted tunes “Main Chick” and “Show Me” show off Ink’s pension for a delivering simple lyricism over a stylistic and melodic DJ Mustard production. “Runnin” and “We Came to Party” ft August Alsina are the Friday-night pregame playlist tracks that you listen to before heading out onto with friends. Simple lyrics with catchy production and hooks, the addition of popular R&B singers make these tracks ready for heavy radio rotation but do little to show off his talent for wordplay.
As a rapper, the saving graces on My Own Lane are the introspective later tracks. “No Option” finds the emcee ripping apart a repetitive DZL beat with a unique double-time flow. Here is where we really get to see his lyrical ability come through as he flosses on the track before King Los jumps on with a witty rhyme. The introspective track “No Miracles” is a return to the mainstream sound but offers a moment of humility and moment of clarity about the rapper’s grind. The addition of Elle Varner’s raspy vocals and Machine Gun Kelly’s aggressive rhymes compliment the heavy-bass production well. The final track “More than a King” is another well produced gem. The two-part Ned Cameron and The Optimist beat are a smooth finish for a subtle build-up.
The only fault of My Own Lane is the commercialization and formulation of sound. Like many other artists who have been signed before after building up a large fan base is the lack of finesse and polish. This album is not Ink’s masterpiece or a good introduction to what he is capable of as a lyricist, but his mainstream appeal. What Drake accomplished years ago with his move to pop-rap success, what B.o.B. demonstrated with his debut The Adventures of Bobby Ray, and what Kanye West perfected on his debut The College Dropout, Ink’s lane isn’t as solo as he thinks. He is the amalgamation of cross over rapper’s of the past with a unique talent for simple word play over a catchy hook and beat. What’s lacking is the charisma that makes a Wiz Khalifa so widely successful. However this genre and lane is ever-changing, Ink still has a chance to merge into at least second.