RCA Records

Q&A: Kid Ink on Redefining the West Coast Sound One Beat at a Time

To truly appreciate today’s vibrant, groundbreaking Los Angeles hip-hop scene you have to go back nearly 20 years. In the mid-'90s, the West Coast rap contingent was at the height of its aural powers. And nowhere else in the hotbed state of California was the surging music scene more omnipresent than the decadent city of L.A. While it may be tempting to give all the glory to such larger-than-life rhyme giants as Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur and Cypress Hill or the genre-flipping pursuits of the Pharcyde, Freestyle Fellowship, and Ras Kass, it’s the producers that captured the spirit of Cali rap.

From the Moog synthesizer-fueled gangsta funk of celebrated studio giant Dr. Dre and Cypress Hill's relentless crate-digging conductor DJ Muggs to the rock-influenced pursuits of the Dust Brothers and the criminally underrated smooth ‘hood orchestrations of DJ Quik—the sounds coming out of L.A. were as diverse as they were groundbreaking.

Flash forward to 2016. Los Angeles is once again the artistic production hub of hip-hop. Leading the pack is the frenzied jazz-influenced electronica declarations of Flying Lotus and bassist Thundercat who have helped take hip-hop’s current pound-for-pound best emcee Kendrick Lamar to uncharted artistic heights.  And the omnipresent DJ Mustard continues to dominate dance clubs and the radio worldwide with his hyphy-inspired throwdowns.

Indeed, standout talent like Sounwave, Knxwledge, Boi-1da, and Drewbyrd are redefining the West Coast sound one beat at a time. To get a deeper read on the LA hip-hop revival, we sat down with frequent Mustard collaborator and 1800 Tequila ambassador Kid Ink. The hybrid rhymer/vocalist, who in late 2015 dropped his fourth major label work Summer In The Winter, has a lot to say. Peep game.

The sounds coming out of the current Los Angeles rap scene have been strikingly diverse. How would you describe the current L.A. hip-hop production scene?
Kid Ink: You said it. It’s very diverse. Everybody definitely has different ways that they approach sound in LA. Los Angeles people have open minds. We are not all stuck on one certain thing.

The songs you recorded with DJ Mustard like “Show Me,” “Body Language” and “Be Real” have a hybrid style that is at once hip-hop, R&B, and pop. How did your signature sound come about?
I think it comes from listening to Los Angeles radio. In other cities, especially in places like Atlanta, they tend to play one style of music all day. But when you come to L.A., they are not only playing L.A. type ‘hood stuff. They are playing what’s hot from all different kinds of genres from pop to R&B. So our ears are hearing all kinds of different music aside from just hip-hop. You hit the studio and you find yourself mixing all of those different elements together.

And yet there is still a reverence for that classic ‘90s West Coast sound, right?
Yeah, you definitely hear it. But we are not just trying to re-create those great moments of Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and Tupac. We still incorporate those West Coast influences, but there are a lot of other musical styles going on.

It could be argued that L.A. hip-hop has never been as musically rich as it is today. You take at an album like Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. There are jazz, funk, and old school soul elements throughout that album. And then Kendrick follows that up with the Untitled project which has more of an 808 trap feel. What does it mean to see an artist as popular as Kendrick take such artistic risks?
It means everything. Kendrick has opened up that freedom even more. When you see him making music that’s so different it helps everybody out because now you are able to say, “Okay, I can go out of the box and try something new just like Kendrick.”

You and DJ Mustard have developed quite the chemistry. Did you instantly know you would mesh so well together?
No…honestly, I tried like 40 Mustard records before we recorded “Show Me.” We had a lot of different beats I was going through everyday and nothing came out the way I wanted it. I felt like I didn’t know how to rap over a Mustard beat [laughs]. It just so happens I ran across the “Show Me” track.

Did you instantly know it was going to be a hit?
I just knew it was different. It was something I had never heard from Mustard. I ended up bringing in Chris [Brown]. He was just in the right place at the right time. From there we developed that sound to the point where it influenced Mustard to say, “Alright, I’m going to try to make some other beats like this.”

Your sound allows you to walk that line between rapper and melodic R&B-informed vocalist. Would you say that you intentionally straddle that fence? People would tell me when I first started making records, “Yo, it’s weird…you sound like a rapper, but it’s a bit more melodic.” But early on I didn’t want to sound like I was trying to play both sides. I had to learn to accept my sound. It’s about having fun. But as far as the content and the lyrics I’m going to always keep it grounded and have that flow. I don’t want to dumb it down and get too gimmicky. There’s definitely more to come.

To hear more about what Kid Ink has to say about the L.A. hip-hop scene, watch his ‘Enough Said’ episode brought to you by 1800 Tequila below.

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It Was Pandemonium: Remembering 5 of B2K’s Career-Defining Moments

At the tail-end of last year, B2K sent the world into a familiar pandemonium following the announcement of their aptly titled reunion, the Millennium Tour. After 15 years, the group came back together to tap into our undying love of early 2000’s nostalgia, reminding fans at each tour stop why the “boys of the new millennium,” were arguably one of the biggest Black boy groups to do it since The Jackson 5.

"We are excited to be a part of what will undeniably be a nostalgic and electrifying performance,” Michelle Le Fleur, COO at Omarion Worldwide, – told Billboard in 2018. "While admiring their solo successes, the fans have consistently demanded a B2K reunion and, with the determination of an incredibly talented team, that dream is now a reality."

In the tour’s latter days, it was confirmed that Raz-B and J-Boog’s ups and downs on the road would be one of a few gripping storylines featured on season six of VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood, premiering Monday Aug. 5 at 8/7c, so it’s only right that we celebrate by looking back at a few of the quartet's biggest moments:

Early Chart Dominance

In 2002, the same year that Justin Timberlake launched his solo career and Nelly and Kelly had their “Dilemma,” B2K's self-titled debut album took the R&B world by storm. The album, which boasted the hit singles “Uh Huh” and “Gots Ta Be,” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart. They’d also join Bow Wow, who was no longer “Lil,”  on the Scream 2 tour on July 25 of that same year.

Pandemonium Ensued

Hot on the heels of B2K’s self-titled success, Pandemonium dropped on Dec.10, 2002 and "Bump, Bump, Bump" peaked at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single became the group's first top 10 hit on the Hot 100 chart and spent a week at No. 1, positioning them to take home the best group and viewer’s choice honors at the BET Awards the following summer.


An Untimely End

At the height of their popularity, B2K would announce their split on BET's 106 & Park in Jan. 2004 to the dismay of R&B fans everywhere. Omarion would later state that the decision was ultimately caused by the group’s mutual desire to seek out solo success. “It is true that B2K broke up but it’s not about me leaving or them leaving. It’s about us growing up and wanting to do our own thing,”  he told Jet magazine in 2004.

Omarion Joins Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood

In 2014, Omarion joined the cast of Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood alongside Fizz, Ray J, Soulja Boy, and more. The stint would come ten years after the launch of his solo career, during which, he blessed listeners with four albums (O, 21, Ollusion, Sex Playlist) in addition to playing a lead role alongside his former group members in You Got Served.


B2K Reunites

2019 saw the launch of the Millennium Tour, which B2K headlined with Mario, the Ying Yang Twins, Chingy, Pretty Ricky, Bobby V, and Lloyd. The tour was an immediate success,  grossing $5 million just three shows into a 25-date cross country stretch. Though initially slated to end in April, on July 11 Drake took to his Instagram to announce that B2K would be making an unexpected final tour stop as co-headliners of his annual Toronto-based OVO Fest.

If you weren’t one of the lucky thousands who got to catch B2K on the road, then VH1 has you covered. Season six of Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood airs on Monday, August 5 at 8/7c and will feature behind the scenes moments from the Millennium Tour that you won’t want to miss. In the meantime, check out the trailer below:

This is branded content, produced by our marketing department in partnership with our advertisers—not by editorial.


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You’re Invited: VIBE VSessions in Los Angeles with Casey Veggies, Kodie Shane, and Buddy

Calling all Los Angeles teens! We are gearing up for our third and final VIBE VSessions — a FREE live concert series in partnership with Fresh Empire, a lifestyle brand dedicated to encouraging youth to reach their goals tobacco-free. The show is open to music lovers ages 13 to 19 and will host some of the most exciting up-and-coming names in hip-hop.

The VIBE VSessions event will feature full sets by LA's own Casey Veggies, Lil Yachty-endorsed Atlanta prodigy Kodie Shane, and rising star Buddy. Host DJ Hed will kick off the night. Attendees at the show will have the chance to take part in on-site giveaways, artist meet-and-greets, and more.

Join us on Saturday, May 13th from 5:00 - 9:00 pm at Hyde on Sunset Boulevard.

Mandatory RSVP at for tickets. Please note entrance is based on capacity so get there early!

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Metro Boomin Rocks Fresh Empire and VIBE's VSessions Feat. YG, Speakerfoxxx, and DJ Jelly

VIBE VSessions descended to Atlanta for a highly-anticipated night of high-powered DJ sets. In an effort to promote a tobacco-free lifestyle, teens ranging from ages 13-19 filled the dance floor at The Loft's Center Stage, a premiere concert venue located in the heart of midtown. V-103's Big Tigger served as the host setting the tone for the Fresh Empire “lituation.”

While attendees laced up with free swag and photos ops, the show kicked off with Southern Style DJ's own DJ Jelly spinning a 45-minute selection of old and new school hip-hop bangers, ranging from legendary rap collective the Dungeon Family down to trap superstar Young Thug. The energy in the room was pure pandemonium leading to the flawless introduction of Speakerfoxxx, better known as “The Queen of ATL.”

“There is no better place than performing at home,” she said while jumping into her set playing an eclectic mix of hip-hop infused electronic records. The Atlanta native made sure concert-goers enjoyed every minute of their escape from the parentals. Whether she was playing the latest from Gucci Mane, Lil Uzi or 2 Chainz, the crowd just couldn’t stop dabbing to the beats.

Speakerfoxxx kept the momentum going for one hour before her close friend and headliner Metro Boomin hit the stage to wrap up the evening. His cult following began shouting, “If Young Metro don’t trust you,” and from that point, the vibe in the crowd skyrocketed to 100 - real quick. It was only right that he began his set with songs from close comrades Future and Drake like “Where Ya A** Was At,” “Jersey,” and the ultimate ATL anthem “Bad and Bougie” by Migos.

Popular YouTube dancers Meechie and Toosi came and kicked it along with upcoming rapper Sahbaii who performed “Pull Up Wit Ah Stick," the latest hit single Metro is co-signing as next to top the charts. West Coast rapper YG also popped up and rapped a few bars from "Who Do You Love" on his studio album, My Krazy Life and more.

Before the show ended three lucky teens got the chance to win a meet-and-greet with Metro himself. The Atlanta edition of VIBE's VSessions was certainly one for the books and the perfect interlude before the Falcons played in the NFL championship on Super Bowl Sunday.

Fresh Empire's national campaign promotes tobacco-free living while educating youth about the health risks with smoking cigarettes. According to the CDC, each day in the United States, more than 3,200 youth aged 18 years or younger smoke their first cigarette, and approximately 2,100 youth and young adults become daily cigarette smokers. Additionally, if smoking continues at the current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness.

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