"I don't just want to rap about weed, or girls, or tattoos, or the struggle. You got to let people know about all of you" – hmv.com talks to Kid Ink
With his new album My Own Lane riding high, we sat down with rising rapper Kid Ink to talk about collaborating with Chris Brown, his prolific work rate and why he won't be confined by anyone…
My Own Lane's out now, are you pleased with the reaction to it?
"I'm really pleased with it man, it dropped Number 3 overall and we got two weeks at Number One on the Billboard chart, I'm really happy with it all."
When did you start working on this record?
"I never approach music in blocks. I never go in thinking I'm going to make these 13 tracks and that's it, I record constantly. I just got my budget back and I was in the studio a hell of a lot. I've been recorded since I dropped the Badass single so over a year, but I ended up giving away at least eight records and starting again. I don't feel like I started focusing on it until late last year."
How much material did you have to choose from?
"I went in with 40 demos, some of which were just beats and hooks and then I slimmed it down to 25 that I wanted to finish. After that I sat down with my manager and we picked out 20 we wanted. Then we went to the label and then picked out the 13 they wanted. In the end we got a deluxe version too so we got to make 17 records. Cutting down 40 songs to 13 is pretty harsh, it's easily the worst part of making the album."
How many tracklistings did you have?
"A lot man, it changed so many times! I lost about five records that I really wish I could have released. I feel like they're timeless records though so when we start the next album process we always keep them or give them away to people. They'll find a way to get out."
You worked with lots of different collaborators, including Tyga, Chris Brown and Pusha T, how do they tend to come about? Are they your idea? Or are they sometimes suggested to you?
"I only try and do the record first, I never go looking for featured artists. I make them, I hear them back and I end up thinking 'Chris Brown would soon dope on this', stuff like that. Different songs fit different people, you need to be able to hear the person on the song before you ask them, they need to be part of the record, not fight the record."
"With the Chris Brown situation, I actually had a guy called T-Fly come and demo, but when I heard it, I thought 'This doesn't feel like a Number One' and so I hit up Chris Brown and we did some together. He loved it man, he kept telling me he was playing it to all his boys and they were so into it."
You've produced lots of music for other artists in the past, how does it compare to making your own records?
"For me it's not too different, I'm always open to new things and I like to try things out. I'm always 100% in the production of the record, I don't care if I made the beat or not, I'm always all over every record I make. I do find it easier to write to other people's beats, it's more of a challenge for me, I like that."
"I think it's easier for people like Kanye to rap to sampled beats because when you've not played every instrument you're not attached to the way it moves, you can just vibe off it and make it work for you."
What kind of album is it lyrically? Is it a personal album?
"I wanted to get across who I am. I wanted to be like 'This is Kid Ink, this is my lifestyle', but in different ways. I don't want to talk about just one thing, I don't just want to rap about weed, or girls, or tattoos, or the struggle. You got to let people know about all of you. I think people listen to me all the time, sometimes in the club, sometimes when they want to make it with their girl, all kind of ways."
What's the rest of 2014 look like for you?
"I'm going to go back to those other records that didn't make the next record and find a way to work on them. Music's always first for me, but I want to show myself a bit more, do more award shows. I'm locking in some tours, I'm going to do three, two in the States, one in Europe."
Finally, what other records did you love last year?
"I loved that Lorde record 'Royals, that was great. Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky' that was cool, Drake did some cool stuff, Jay-Z too, there were a tonne of dope records last year."
Kid Ink's new album My Own Lane is out now. You can download it here from our digital store.