Review: Kid Ink, My Own Lane
The Kid’s Got Potential… The breakthrough rapper of January 2013 was A$AP Rocky, who riskily released his first notable album, Long. Live. A$AP during the dead of January. The move boded well for A$AP, who easily debuted atop the Billboard 200 Chart. The release of Kid Ink’s second album (first for a major label), My Own Lane, is even riskier, dropping the first week of January. That said, single “Show Me” is rising on the charts, and buzz single “Bad A**” definitely didn’t disappoint. The question is, is a rising single enough to set up Kid Ink for greater success? Only time and sales will tell. As an album, My Own Lane has plenty of bright spots, but isn’t without its missteps either. Ultimately, the good outweighs the bad.
“Hello World” is a fitting opener, sporting top-notch production, a jubilant sound, and confident rhymes from the ‘Kid’. Ink asserts his certified status throughout, doing it most aggressively on the first verse: “Echelon keep elevating, bunch of b*****s, hella haters / add them up while I just keep it 100, exclamated…” At least K.I. has the swagger to deliver, regardless of the cockiness. “The Movement” finds him truly flexing, supported by a sound sampling of Earth, Wind & Fire classic, “Let Your Feelings Show.” Ink conveys his feelings, delivering inspired rhymes atop brassy horns and golden strings. “See, I know you can feel the movement,” he boasts on the third verse. “Pull up, truck big as a mover, ain’t nowhere to park / backyard big as an amusement park / come through lookin’ like the millionaire march / My bad, I just had to brag one time…” Only once – sheesh! “The Movement” is moving though – in an indulgent sort of way.
“Show Me” brings Chris Brown aboard who adds exceptional vocals on the chorus. Brown is in lover man mode, though he can’t seem to put all the pieces together: “You remind me of something / but I don’t know what it is…girl you gotta show me.” Kid Ink isn’t outshined by the R&B bad boy in the least: “Misses, you got my full attention / listen, let go of the tension / If I got a minute, I’ll put your bad a** in detention…” “Detention” don’t have nothing on the follow-up track! With naughtiness already firmly planted in Ink’s mind, he gets plumb nasty with Tyga on standout “Iz U Down”, where Kid Ink desires a threesome. Apparently, Ink “Can tell by the way you’ve been dancing wit yo girlfriend / Can I ask? / Iz u down? Iz u down?” As many times as the idea of a ménage à trois has been used in rap over the years, “Iz U Down” is yet another fine example.
As if a track were necessary, “We Just Came To Party”, featuring edgy R&B singer August Alsina, states the obvious. The results remain above average, if a shade below surefire hits like “The Movement”, “Show Me”, or “Iz U Down.” Still, Ink’s pop-raps are effective for the most part, with the hook being the track’s saving grace. The proceeding “Main Chick”, a second Chris Brown collaboration, falls into similar territory – good, but not elite. Brown still remains at the top of his game vocally, though the previous collaboration was more memorable. Still, Ink has got some rhymes on him, led by “What, just keep it on the hush / pocketful of trees, don’t beat around the bush / walk on green, I can even hear the putt / K.O. shawty when I hit her with a punch line…” There it is! Things improve a bit on “No Option” featuring King Los, finding the MCs spitting some mean punch lines. “N***as work at Walmart, where they play at,” raps King Los on verse two. “Turn ‘em into a Target when I show them where the K at…”
One of the preeminent cuts of My Own Lane arrives with the Pusha T collaboration “Murda”, which both Ink and Pusha slay. The hook matches the title with its ‘in your face’ sentiment: “You ain’t innocent at all / it’s, it’s f**king murder / shots in the burner / more shots in the burner.” Pusha T in particular is on autopilot: “No angels allowed / baby you ain’t innocent, caught up in that whirlwind / Molly in the evening, girls kissing girls, and / I ain’t here to judge at all, tryna get my twirl in / benefits of f**king with ‘em, sh***ing on your girlfriends.” Few cuts match the intensity of “Murda”, definitely the ‘elite of the elite’.
After the ‘murder’, Kid Ink takes a back step. “Rollin” sounds too cliché, rivaling Tyga’s popular, if ‘dumb’ hits (“Rack City” or “Faded”). “Tattoo of My Name” sports both sick production and an excellent grinding tempo, but seems absurd. “I know it’s a different kind of love but ain’t nothing like a / tattoo of my name on you / it’s a different kind of trust when I see you got that / tattoo of my name, tattoo of my name on you.” Please! To his credit though, Kid isn’t going to force his girl into the tatting: “I would never tell you girl to go mess up yo frame / but it’s nothing I could say about a tattoo of my name.” Furthermore, if Ink just does straight ink: “F**k that henna, keep it real…”
“No Miracles” gives My Own Lane an injection of energy and substance. Elle Varner delivers masterfully on the uplifting hook, as does Ink and Machine Gun Kelly on the verses. The aforementioned hook sums up “No Miracles” best: “I never waited on a miracle / there ain’t no miracles ‘round here…I’m not afraid of the impossible / there ain’t impossible ‘round here.” Instead of investing his rhymes into shallowness, Ink goes personal, which is a sound move. “No Miracles” is the last gigantic statement of the effort. “I Don’t Care” – like most of My Own Lane – is slickly produced, but not even Maejor Ali’s superb falsetto couldn’t make it a standout. Standard edition closer “More Than A King” is decent, but don’t call it a masterpiece. The Best Buy edition of the album sports four bonus cuts, with the best of the four being early single “Bad A**”, featuring Meek Mill and Wale.
Overall, My Own Lane is a solid album with enough captivating tracks to make it worth the money ($7.99 seems to be the common price). That said My Own Lane also has its flaws, price aside. When Kid Ink settles for clichés like on “Rollin’” for example, he’s not at his best, failing to distinguish himself from others. When he is on his game, however, he’s lethal.
“The Movement”; “Show Me”; “Iz U Down?”; “Murda”; “No Miracles”; “Bad A**”
Kid Ink • My Own Lane • RCA • US Release Date: January 7, 2014