As a student and lifelong fan of hip-hop, I’ve had to learn to give new artists the benefit of the doubt.
Over the last decade especially, there have been countless artists I couldn’t stand upon first listen who later become personal favorites. A 21-year-old me would punch the present-day me for listening to half the shit I bump on a daily basis, but I’ve learned to enjoy music for what it is, to not attempt to cram it into an ill-fitting box.
When interview trolling is the new PR move and skill is more relative of a description than ever, I've had to train myself to look past the off-mic antics of many rappers and focus only on their music, which often tends to be more of a slow burn than an immediate slap in the face of dopeness.
Kodak Black is definitely one of these artists. His music is reminiscent of Lil Boosie Boosie BadAzz at his most inspired, but also his most reckless. Like Boosie before his reformation, Kodak’s actions outside the booth are making it increasingly difficult to appreciate his efforts from inside of it. The Florida native is currently facing up to 30 years in prison on charges of sexual assault and was arrested last May on charges including robbery, false imprisonment, possession of a firearm and possession of marijuana.
Despite these alleged abhorrent wrongdoings, I can’t deny the potency of “I Remember” or “Can I,” a reminder that Kodak isn’t cranking out the same sort of fun, nonchalant rhymes of contemporaries like Lil Yachty or Lil Uzi Vert. Outside all the antics, Kodak has an occasional depth to him that hints at something more than court cases and gold fronts and captures the frustrations and dangers of South Florida street life.
Still, I can’t deny the complete lack of sincerity and respect in his recent appearance on The Breakfast Club.
I’m not even mad at the ski mask, other than the fact that it looks ridiculous—Kodak is far from the first rap star to wear something outrageous to an interview.
But his demeanor throughout the interview is a stark reminder that Kodak is still just a 19-year-old kid. I think I made it to the five minute marker before I heard a legitimate answer to a question from Kodak, and even then it was delivered with the enthusiasm and articulation of a scolded child.
I watched on, hoping his initial aloofness was a reaction to being grilled about some ridiculous comments he’d made about Lil Wayne recently, but I was wrong.
The entirety of the interview shows nary a glimpse of the talent or focus the artist has shown in his music. Instead, he treats viewers to a completely uninterested and insincere version of himself, mumbling one or two-word responses to an increasingly frustrated panel of interviewers.
To some extent, I get it. Some interviews are just a shit show. The artist might just be having an off day, or especially in the case of The Breakfast Club, there could be an anxiety present when you know you’re about to be milked for headlines for half an hour.
If you don’t want to do an interview—which is fine—just say no. But how can you expect to be taken seriously when you don’t seem to take yourself seriously?
If this was a legitimate attempt at the sort of click-bait, viral publicity that some of his new school cohorts have been able to achieve with faux beef and incendiary comments, it missed the mark. If this is a legitimate offering from Kodak Black, he needs to seriously consider how he’s putting himself out into the world if he wants to exist as more than a flash in the hip-hop pan.
Either way, Kodak Black has a lot to learn.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo Credit: YouTube