Fresh off dropping his third studio album, Full Speed, Kid Ink is unstoppable. His hustle has produced crossover hits and club bangers, and worldwide tours. Now, the Bat Gang leader is giving back to his fans.
On Tuesday (June 16), the L.A. rapper provided the summer soundtrack at New York City’s Bryant Park in celebration of Pepsi’s “Pop Open Music Every Hour” Campaign and new interactive app, Pepsi Pass. At the heart of Pepsi’s foundation is a deep-rooted passion for delivering unforgettable, out-of-the-blue moments, rewarding consumers with exclusive concert experiences through “music every hour” giveaways and prizes.
VIBE recently chopped it up to Kid Ink on his involvement with Pepsi’s latest summer campaign, his “One Hell Of A Nite” gig and putting in work.
VIBE: You shut down Bryant Park yesterday with a surprise performance for the launch of Pepsi Pass and their “Pop Open Music” campaign. Tell me more about your involvement with Pepsi and the campaign.
Kid Ink: I’ve actually worked with Pepsi before so it’s great to be back. We did a surprise show last summer in St. Louis for the fans, they loved it. Right now, I’m out here with Pepsi celebrating their “Pop Open Music” campaign—it’s all about giving back to the fans. With the Pepsi Pass app, fans are able to win dope prizes and access to events. With “Pop Open Music,” they are able to win tickets to concerts every hour. It’s pretty dope and I’m all about giving back. It’s the biggest thing for me.
Music is such a big part of the summer, too, but a lot of artists use that as their downtime. I’m in no rush right now, but I am taking advantage of this time while I’m not on tour or anything to just chill, have fun, and connect with my fans.
The artist-fan relationship and the way we consume music has drastically changed with the advancement of technology. As a kid, how did you keep up with your favorite artists and new music?
There’s definitely a big difference in how music works today from when I was a kid. I feel like when I first got around to having a favorite artist, there was a lot of chasing music. You’d hear that one song on the radio and then you’d have to sit and listen to the radio all day to hear it again. I would hear it and throw in a tape and record it. (Laughs) I feel like that was the only real way we could get our music back then. Then, of course, when the Internet came into play and there were different downloadable sites that music was available. Whether it was Napster or Limewire, everyone at school had their mix CDs. When the real Internet wave came, I was with it because it was helping me get in tune and familiar with artists that weren’t just from my city and playing on my radio station. Each station doesn’t necessarily have to play the same music. So when you go to Atlanta, you hear Atlanta music or you come to the East Coast, they only play East Coast music – especially back then, but now it’s a little different.
Which do you prefer: the old school way or technology-driven method?
The Internet is still the best way to get known worldwide. That’s how I think I’ve been able to get this far in my career. I didn’t just try and go straight for radio. I made videos and released music on the Internet, and now my sound is spread across so many countries. I still take that approach too.
Well, you’ve certainly shown and proved. On the 12th of this month, you celebrated the third anniversary of your first album, Up & Away. How does it feel knowing all the hard work and effort you put forth all these years?
It feels good. It feels good to really get this far, especially since this is is my third studio album and second major label album. First off, it’s definitely hard to get an independent album out, and then to get to the second album is another task to conquer. It’s like the label has to give you that first album once you have a record out and they put that money into you. With the second album, you have to get them excited again. For me, it didn’t take too much to get them excited again, especially with not having any major co-signs or handouts from anybody. I’m not signed to some big rapper where everybody is telling them that I’m the next guy. Everything that I’m doing is just all me and the fans telling them what’s going on, the music speaking for itself.
You’ve been on your grind, taking no days off. Last year, you did over 200 shows, and just this week, you added 53 new shows to your already packed summer lineup.
(Laughs) I’m definitely going to be crammed up with the new “One Hell Of A Nite” Tour with Chris [Brown]. I’m excited about that; it’s going to be all of us out there really just getting it. The lineup is dope and I’m really excited to show and prove on a bigger level with these arena shows. From there, like I said, I’m not in a rush as far as my career speed, but I feel like I have so much work and growing to do. Immediately after I dropped the last album, I got back in the studio so I have so much new music and new stuff I’m working on, but I’m honestly not in much of a rush to get it out like I used to be. I understand the importance of working the album and the singles. “Be Real” featuring Dej Loaf has so much room to kill the summer so I just want to want to see how that goes. I want to put some new videos out, too, especially for everything from the album that I feel still has its potential. Then, I’m going on a European tour, you know, spread the word out there some more. I go every year and I know the fans out there are ready for that because it’s been about a full year since I was there. Besides that, I’m just working on myself and my new artists: Bricc Baby and Vee Da Rula. We’re just grinding.
Fetty Wap and I just met yesterday for the first time and he’s mad cool. I’m definitely interested in seeing his show. Omarion and I have a new record out together, and he has been killing it. He’s a vet, too, as far as that show game goes so I might learn some things from him. Really though, I just want to be able to compete with Chris [Brown]. I don’t just want to make the openers go hard, but I want to make Chris [go hard] too. I’m opening right before him so to do that, I really have to show and prove and make sure that my show is ready for his show. I’m going to go as hard as possible. It’s going to be fun. I’m excited to see what crazy things I do this time.
At the end of the day, how are you balancing it all: touring, recording, dropping albums, killing features?
Definitely now, my balance is making sure that I take care of myself a little bit better – sleeping and eating. I’ve added an hour to my three hours of sleep, so now I get four. (Laughs) I’ve added one more meal to my one meal a day routine, so now I eat two meals a day. Besides that, though, keeping the right people around me is something that helps me get through stuff. The people around me are my friends and family people that work for me on the road and people I’ve come up with. I try not to hire family because things can get a little personal. I definitely feel like I have people that I can trust around me when I’m on the road, and people I’ve grown up with before the music. So I think from that viewpoint, it keeps it all leveled because we all are going through it together. I make sure everyone gets no sleep since I don’t get any. (Laughs) It’s great to be able to come together and collectively have fun.
Photo Credits: Getty Images