Kodak Black Painting Pictures Atlantic Records
Beyond the hype of two promising mixtapes – Institution and Lil B.I.G. Pac – as well as a string of featured guest verses, much of the attention on Florida rapper Kodak Black has been born out of his activity outside of the booth. Some of it’s been eccentric – turning up for a high-profile interview in a balaclava with his golden grills creeping through the gap. Elsewhere, his short career has been punctuated by widely-publicised legal issues, and he faces many years in prison if disturbing allegations about him are proven to be true. In cases like this, critical analysis of the music relies on a degree of separation between art and artist.
In comparison to the minor key menace that conventionally defines contemporary street rap, sonically Painting Pictures is a surprisingly bright commercial debut. The 20-year-old has a distinctively monotonous flow but – when placed on top of the album’s light, fluttering production – it sounds notably more dynamic than it has until now. Patty Cakes – produced Ness (HBTL) and Ben Billions – has the same warm piano-led tone of some early Kanye records, and on Top Off Benz, Kodak sounds just as elastic and defiantly youthful as Young Thug, who he shares the track with.
Despite being overly long (a criticism which is fast becoming expected in a market that’s incentivised by streaming stats) and some fairly banal lyrical content, Kodak Black seems to have developed an ear for beats that complement his vocal range. And unless the darkness swallows it completely, then Painting Pictures can be perceived as a solid foundation for a promising career.