“I don’t rap, I illustrate, I don’t paint pictures, I picture paint.” The Pompano, Florida rapper’s wheezy young voice begins his debut album and is followed by news reporters discussing multiple arrests of the rapper Dieuson Octave, better known as Kodak Black.
The 19-year-old has been in and out of juvenile detention centers and jail and is currently behind bars after a probation violation stemming from charges of false imprisonment, strong-arm robbery and fleeing law enforcement.
Stories of hustling and dodging the law describe the life of Kodak, who also goes by “Project Baby.” He spills his explicit outlook on the good, bad and the ugly of the world around him.
Most street music has a loud beat and brash delivery, but Kodak has softer beats that still bang and sound great, leaving room for his vocals. He lets his voice and storytelling bear the weight of the album rather than relying on hard instrumentals. His croaky voice and southern accent is reminiscent of a young Lil Wayne.
After the first few tracks with a slower style, Kodak Black turns the energy up on “Up in Here,” a track with references to Nelly’s song of a similar title. The rapper flows about toting different guns and some sexual innuendos on top of the on-point beat that gives this track a steady bounce.
Kodak flaunts his money, jewels and other riches throughout the whole album, along with his edgy personality of doing anything to survive. “U Ain’t Never” and “Why They Call You Kodak” are menacing tracks as Kodak flaunts his ruthless ways of dealing with his problems.
The lyrics play on his blurred lines of morality and his confliction of robbing and stealing in order to eat and stay alive. Currently facing what could be many years incarcerated, he writes about bouncing back and forth between the addiction of the criminal lifestyle and the legal troubles that come along with it.
“Twenty 8” is a love ballad about the two old loves of Kodak’s life and his newest love interest. The fascinating part of this song is how he manages to combine his love of getting drug money, with his love of his 28-year-old girlfriend. Dedicating the first verse of the song to cooking drugs he plays with the fact that 28 grams is an ounce and is also the age of his new girlfriend who has become the love of his life. Kodak shows a tender and caring side that combats his sinister style. This song has such unique ties between narcotics and his baby girl and their relationship.
Kodak being only 19 is still a kid. Some of his youthfulness creeps into his lyrics between the crime and street lingo. The chorus on “Patty Cake” combines a child’s song with threats of murder without a flicker of hesitation.
“Save You” tells of Kodak’s want to be with someone forever, have children and ride together with only one girl. He’s never afraid of saying what’s on his mind even if it means being vulnerable at times. Combine the fast-paced lifestyle of a young flourishing rapper, legal troubles and hustling with the feelings of teenage puppy love and you get an album with many different highs and lows of emotion.
“Tunnel Vision” was released after months of anticipation after a snippet leaked onto the internet. The track is a beautiful string and flute melody that did not disappoint. A catchy hook about how society is trying to keep him in the penitentiary and how he needs to keep focus and keep his eyes on positivity and work instead of negativity.
The features on the album include, Future, Young Thug, Bun B and A Boogie wit da Hoodie. All of these features fit well and add to the album, but Young Thug’s hook on “Top off the Benz” is the one part of the album that is just dreadful. Thug’s usual melodic tone is high pitched and off beat.
Kodak Black paints a portrait of a hungry coming-of-age young adult who has been through dangerous and crazy situations that someone would only view in a television drama. The album tells the tale of an artist grappling with newfound fame as he has one foot in the street life and one in the music industry. And it’s all laid out in an unfiltered 18 track long album “Painting Pictures.” If Kodak can overcome the legal trouble that has plagued his short career he could grow into a huge star.