In His Own Words: Kid Ink Breaks Down His 'Full Speed' Album
Kid Ink isn't too keen on taking things slow. At least, that's what his third studio album Full Speed is telling us.
The Batgang rapper's disregard for moving at a snail's pace is well-documented on the new 12-track project, as he shines a light on living the fast life: stacks, stunting, smoking, strippers, sex. You know, the usual. For the avid partiers, his voice is a familiar one to eardrums. "Show Me," "Main Chick" and "Body Language" have been mainstays in the infectious DJ Mustard section of club playlists. "Hotel" is slowly starting to pick up steam. From a technical standpoint, he's a rapper. However, he tends to float somewhere in between spitting and singing on Full Speed, riding the beats and melodies produced by the likes of Mustard, Metro Boomin, Key Wane, DJ Dahi and more.
But something's a little different from his last LP, like his feet are more firmly planted this time around. He's not fishing for singles anymore and wants to be known for his own flow, not how much he makes backsides jump in Supper Club (although, yes, some of that is still present on Full Speed). He knows exactly what he wants people to know about Brian Collins, the person.
"My Own Lane was something where I was showing and improving more, putting pressure on making sure my old fans didn't think I changed on them and the new fans knew what I was about based on the whole album and not just one record," he told us. "With Full Speed, the difference is the growth. I had a little bit more confidence and direction. It wasn't really a guessing game. I'm more comfortable with my voice and [I don't] have that pressure of insecurity."
The Cali-bred rapper broke down his album track-by-track, detailing his three personal faves ("Be Real," "Like A Hot Boyy" and "Cool Back"), how the album features came to be and even the key to deciphering a Young Thug verse. —Stacy-Ann Ellis (@stassi_x)
"What It Feels Like"
Kid Ink: This was a record I was having fun with because I like the production more than anything. It wasn't a song that was directed towards trying to come up with a hook or anything like that. Just having fun in the booth. I heard this beat and kind of freestyled this idea together. That's what gave it that intro feeling and vibe, because I was just going off of my first [thought] and not really having a direction and kind of going all over the place with it. It wasn't a focus on being the intro until it was done. It was like, 'Yo, this sounds like the intro.' Not because of the beat but because of the energy on it.
Kid Ink: I try to throw people off in the beginning by not going straight for singles on the album. I try to go for the hard-hitting records. It's a stronger song, more hip-hop. They usually expect the "pop-er" singles from me or the radio records that they usually hear. "Faster" is a song I recorded on the tour bus at like four o'clock in the morning. There were only like one or two songs that I recorded on tour that made it to the album. It's a record that people wouldn't expect from me production-wise. The subject matter is just living a faster lifestyle, focusing on what females talk about and trying to be a part of this and that. They really get sucked into it and can't really handle it. Same thing with guys. There's people that want to be a part of this rap lifestyle or the entertainment lifestyle, get into it and really be in it.
"Dolo" (feat. R. Kelly)
Kid Ink: I got off tour and was just going through and recording single records, things that sounded like they could be singles as far as for the radio. This was a record that was in production in the first album. Me and R. Kelly were trying to get a record done for My Own Lane with the same producers but the song just didn't get done in time for my part, the ending and the production. We saved the idea, sending records to each other back and forth during his album process to see if I had any ideas. I just kept that distant relationship with him and reached out every once in a while and from there, they asked if I had anything for R. Kelly and I did. It was new age for him. It had a brand new sound and I thought it was something of a vibe he's touched on before, something he could probably rock with. Instantly we got a response like "R. Kelly's down" and we went over it two times. He had two sessions to record and add more stuff, which was a blessing. I got a verse and a hook, so you know, I couldn't have asked for more. "Dolo" is a common word that I don't think anyone has touched on in a record, so I felt it was an open lane. It's a word that I say all the time more than anything and is part of my regular vocabulary.
"Body Language" (feat. Tinashe and Usher)
Kid Ink: The "Body Language" record was tricky because I wasn't really thinking about recording an album or a single at that point. I was just in the studio with Cashmere Cat and Stargate and I was wondering what'd happen, whether it be I make an accidental record for myself or write something for them and the projects that they're doing, because they work with so many big artists. That's how I feel like I got the record, because I did a song in that session with them and they used it. A lot of the songs got around to other people but this one record never got picked up and it was a record I never forced or talked about because it wasn't something I felt. It was just a demo I wrote for somebody else, whether male or female.
Four months goes by and they asked me if I heard it at Usher's new studio and I said, "Yeah man, we need to make that work. I'm down with the Usher feature." And this was before he even had anything out on the radio. He had one single but no feature tracks. I tried to reach out early but didn't explain to them—because I wasn't in the studio with them—that it was a female feature on the record. So from there, the label made me go find a female artist since they were good with the Usher part. At that time, Tinashe wasn't just in my face a lot, just from being in the same circles in the city and working with the same show people and being at the same venues. She beat me No. 1 for the charts and I came in No. 2, so just to congratulate the situation, I reminded her, "Yo, I got this record. I think I played it for you before to see if you wanted it, but I got Usher on it now." She vibed with it so we went to the studio in Vegas and made it happen.
Kid Ink: I was talking about this situation that I believe is becoming pretty common, or more open rather, where people are in these swinger relationships and it made the female more confident to approach couples and be a part of that. I've heard situations where it's peoples' jobs, like they have sex with couples instead of finding boyfriends or anything like that. It was a funny play on the situation where there's a girl in the club and she's into you, then two seconds later, she's into your girlfriend. Whether it be in the strip club and the strippers are only dancing on your girlfriend but she's still giving you the side eye. It had me thinking that like, "Are you having thoughts about… ?" When I played the idea for my boy, Verse Simmons, he had this extra section where he said to throw it on the hook and play it and we'll make it a movie. It's something that's in the entertainment business a lot, so I played on that idea and from there, played it for Chris in the studio. We cut two records that night, but that one I knew it was a guarantee so he rocked with it and I still got the other one off that. I think he has a special plan for it, but we're definitely getting it out there for sure.
Kid Ink: "Cool Back" was a record I enjoyed on a personal level. Being myself, not worried about another radio record for anyone else, just having fun. I was touching on the basis of bringing cool back. Fashion itself was getting to a point where to be dirty is in, it's fashionable. And that's something that I never felt or really understood, so with this record I wanted to touch base on people getting back to being a little clean and not as rugged. I respect it to an extent, but I think it got a little out of hand with everyone just liking to look dirty on purpose. I felt like this was a record that was personal for me and touched home. It might even be picking at some people, but not really.
"Be Real" (feat. Dej Loaf)
Kid Ink: That record came together by DJ Mustard coming to the studio and dropping off beats. I'm always looking for that one beat that sounds different than any other beat that someone gives me. This was one that felt like it still had his Mustard vibe to it, but when we put the verses on it, it went to a whole other level. The plus side is he gave me this beat that had a hook written by one of his female writers, and she was saying all this gutter stuff about different subjects. All the way from baby daddies to dropping off that child support, and not having no dough or pulling up in a raggedy bucket. She was talking about a lot of real hood shit to where I was like, 'Who can say these lyrics the right way and have it come off directly?'
I thought it could only be Nicki Minaj at this point because everybody else is not going to be believable. Nicki Minaj or Rihanna-type stuff. But I can't go that big right now, those aren't my homie-homies, like [their features cost] $100,000. I remembered how I got introduced to Dej Loaf, my friends put me on her. I just fell in love with what she was doing and how that lane was so open for somebody and then at that time, I felt like she was the one. She came by the radio show and showed a lot of love, asked to come backstage and take a pic and everything, and was always respectful to the grind. I reached out to her and told her I had this one record that was right and she did everything and did her job, made it her own record, switched up lyrics and did all kinds of other stuff. We just put it together and made it into this catchy, amazing record. It's definitely going to be one for the club, but I think it's reaching its commercial status, too.
"Every City We Go" (feat. Migos)
Kid Ink: The Migos record was produced by one of my in-house producers Ned Cameron, and we had this idea that was written by one of my in-house artists, Bricc Baby. He wrote this amazing hook idea. I couldn't hear anyone [on the record] for a second and then a couple weeks later, we got into the studio with Migos when they came to L.A. I played a record that was more their vibe, then I brought up the other record even though it was a different sound for them. I felt like they could attack it the right way. I left them with the record for a couple of hours and they wrote these crazy verses that I never heard from them on that level and the way they catered to the beat. They were riding the beat crazy. They're more club-driven artists and it seemed like I was using them more so for their sound than they were using me for mine.
So at that point, I cut a verse to this record and kept the other on stash. It's probably the closest to the personal record that I wanted to have. I always try to have a record where I can worry less about the punchlines and more worried about what I'm saying. This is the closest I was trying to spit and earn respect. I was really speaking from and telling the truth about where I come from. People think "Oh, they just gave him that record" or "He was copying their vibes." I try my hardest not to be like that but you still want to try and give the artist something that they can understand and be familiar with as far as the content so they know how to write their verses instead of them talking completely out of pocket.
Kid Ink: This one was produced by Key Wane. He gave me this idea and it played off of Deebo from Friday. The word Deebo means strong-armed, to take something away, boss up on somebody. So I used that for a theme, explaining situations where you gotta stunt on people even if you don't want to. You have to show and prove your status. I think ["Deebo"] goes all the way from going to the club and taking the right table to taking someone's girl—which is not my personal thing, but you know other people's situations. Just taking that charge. I didn't try to take it to being on some gangster shit, like I'm taking chains and taking cars and poppin' people. I'm not promoting robbing folks but I'm definitely just stunting.
The other day I had to do it at the club with a table because I walked in and the table they gave me wasn't the table I wanted or where they told me I was going to be. Sometimes I get to the club late, waiting on other people or getting ready to come from somewhere, and they'll give away the table and think that when I get there it's okay. No, I need this table for a reason. For me, it's different. I need to sit by the DJ, sit by this person, so I told them to move that guy. I don't brag about it while it's happening. I'm chill. I let security handle it. I'm not jumping on the table like, "Move out the way!"
"About Mine" (feat. Trey Songz)
Kid Ink: It's one of my favorite street records, especially where I'm from in L.A. We played on this theme with the "Why you bullshittin," which was kind of a play off the record done by Sugar Free, which is a big classic record where I'm from. I figured overall, Trey had this idea but I didn't like the beat it was over so I had to switch it up and tell him I was going to hit Mustard up and get a new beat. But I know how that can play sometimes when you change the beat and it might not sound the same with the cut lyrics and everything gets thrown off, but I'm glad he trusted me with picking the right beat. I know what I'm doing as far as production and knowing the keys and tempos. We found a brand new beat with a new age sound. Not the regular "Mustard sound." We went back and forth with ideas and lyrics and he took it back to his own studio at the crib. I was recording outside of the city at that time but we were definitely communicating, making sure the record came together and that we both felt like it wasn't a feature record. It was a Kid Ink and Trey Songz record. We made that happen as far as hitting the street hard without forcing. I think it's going to be a real big club record even if it doesn't hit the radio crazy, content-wise. It's a little strong for radio.
Kid Ink: This was the second to last song recorded for the album. It was the point in the process where I'm not focused on singles. I was focused on having fun and it's close to the end time where I'm trying to squeeze records in. We got to the point where I don't want the album to sound like a bunch of singles or radio records. I want to still be me on the songs even though I was recording a bunch of singles for y'all to pick from. Let me just cut some new stuff in the studio and just have fun, go in there and record "Blunted" just off the fact that I haven't had a smoke record for a while and I do a lot of smoke freestyles. So I approached this song like it was more of a freestyle. I was talking about smoking but it didn't sound like the typical smoke record. I felt like only smokers could understand the lyrics. If I played this and people who didn't smoke listened, I'd have to be like, "Nah, if you know what I'm talking about, you'll understand and it will make you appreciate it." If you understand that 1.5 grams is a fat blunt then in the smoker's mind, he'd understand. I wanted to use the word "blunted" because it hadn't been over-stressed and used. I try to always come up with something new for the smoke records because there aren't too many cool smoke words out there.
"Like a Hot Boy" (feat. Young Thug and Bricc Baby Shitro)
Kid Ink: Bricc Baby is somebody who grew up with me in L.A. He's family and we're close friends. He was someone who was rapping but was also still in the streets and doing his thing in Atlanta. From there, he ran into [Young] Thug, Migos and all their producers, and was in that circle. He was living that lifestyle for a minute to where he came back to the city and I got him back into his music game. He was bringing these dudes around me. I ended up meeting Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, Migos and Metro Boomin and all these guys. I got this record and started writing this hook. Then, I had this one line at the end that I was stuck on and was just thinking of a word. I always tell everybody in the studio, "If you got something, go in the booth and say it. Don't be afraid to say it. Go in the booth, because it might be crazy." So he went into the studio and said, "Getting cash money like a hot boy." I was like, that's the hook. We went with that and we wanted to write more to that section.
The whole song became themed around the Hot Boys and we can talk about the new hot boys in the streets and throw the words around. I used to be the biggest Hot Boys stan so it wasn't going too far left for me to come up with the rest of the lyrics, the moments and how I felt at those times. Thinking about the new Hot Boys, I was thinking about Birdman and then Lil' Wayne and Young Thug. Like this could be a cool play on everything and make it seem fun. This was before any of the beef, we were just having fun. I sent it to Thug and he just laid it down like it was his own record. That's really what I wanted. He sent the verse and I said "Nah, I need Young Thug on the hook doing melodies and all that stuff." So he went back in and re-cut it. Right after the show one day we got it back right before the album was done. I remember being in Miami and getting the verse done at four in the morning and being completely wasted but understanding everything that the words said. And then I remember being completely sober and I forgot all the words. I was like "Yo, this sounded way crazier when I was drunk. Like I got everything he said." But when I was sober, I had to really decipher it. If you can't understand Young Thug, you gotta be lit.