With all the new music released this week, the standout story is the arrival of Florida rapper Kodak Black’s highly anticipated and long-overdue debut album, “Painting Pictures.”
Despite being in jail for violating his probation, Black is more focused than ever before. The last couple of years have been a rollercoaster for the self-proclaimed “Project Baby.” Although he’s battled legal woes for various crimes, Black has marked some major music milestones thanks to some of his popular singles, including “Skrt Skrt” and his latest hit “Tunnel Vision.”
Originally hailing from Pompano Beach’s Golden Acres — the only government-subsidized housing left standing in Broward County, Florida — Kodak Black, whose real name Dieuson Octave, emerged an enigmatic figure out of a slum dog opera.
At 14 years old, Black was waxing scorching poetics over Wale’s “Ambition,” a track that saw him recount his days “by the dead end,” having been raised the proverbial hustler in and out of the ghetto — without the champagne, smoke machines, simulated rain and stacks of crisp, blue hundred dollar bills.
After dropping a slew of mixtapes, which garnered him considerable buzz beyond the borders of South Florida, Kodak Black has finally released another serious project along with a documentary, called “Project Baby” that showed in New York’s Landmark Sunshine Cinema on March 30.
In the teaser for the “Project Baby” documentary released alongside his album, he said he wants people to feel everything he’s been through. In the album opener, “Day For Day,” his first poetic lines are, “I don’t rap, I illustrate. I don’t paint pictures, I picture-paint.” Then, the track includes clips of news reports about Black’s legal battles. Black adds that the streets already sentenced him before he entered the system.
The LP delivers 18 tracks and features Future, Young Thug, Jeezy, Bun B and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. The ups and downs of Kodak’s life are part of what makes “Painting Pictures” hard not to listen to. By the third track, “Candy Paint,” the rapper talks about being able to easily drop $20,000 on his aunt and how draping his lady in Louis Vuitton is no big deal.
The quotable “Twenty 8” is another highlight on the album. Black talks endearingly about the woman in his life with the help of the homemade echo over piano sounds on “Patty Cake.”
Black and crew could barely stay in their seats when piecing together “Coolin and Booted.” The danceable beats on this song are consistent from start to finish on “Painting Pictures,” making a perfect soundtrack for practicing your Kodak bop in front of the mirror or stunting at the club. With production handled by the likes of Mike WiLL Made-It, Honorable C.N.O.T.E., Wheezy, Metro Boomin and NAV, there’s no wonder this body of work is Black’s most crisp, adventurous-sounding music to date.
On first listen, it’s a powerful artistic statement from a kid who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Kodak is great at bluesy, empathetic melodies in ways reminiscent of Lil Wayne’s glory days. Hopefully in 2017, Black can stay out of jail and continue his path toward rap success.