Over the course of Kodak Black’s career in Hip Hop, the artist has been marred with controversial takes, conspiracy theories, and incarceration. Once lauded as the future of Florida, Kodak carried with him the cult-following of SoundCloud rappers like XXXTENTACION and Juice WRLD, delivering blood-soaked raps with squeaking zeal. Between stints in jails and prisons, Kodak unleashed hellfire through tracks such as “No Flockin’,” “ZEZE” and “Drowning,” captivating audiences in the Sunshine State and beyond with his unique voice and broken-hearted ballads filled with memorable one-liners and hellacious deliveries.
Haitian Boy Kodak arrived this past May and marks the first project Kodak has dropped since being released after serving his latest jail stint, a 46-month bid which ended upon former President Trump’s commuting of his sentence. With eight tracks coming in at just under 22-minutes, Haitian Boy Kodak breaks from the trend of long Hip Hop albums and turns the focus inward, setting features aside for a more holistic portrait of Kodak as a person and artist.
Unfortunately, the portrait was rushed and poorly drawn.
There are attempts to wrangle Haitian Boy Kodak into a tightly bound exploration into his heritage. Born to a Haitian immigrant (the Z Queen makes an appearance in the accompanying video to Lil Yachty and Kodak’s “Hit Bout It”), Kodak’s not previously gone into any particular detail about his upbringing. On “Dejanbem,” Kodak sings in Haitian Creole, pleading for Heaven’s guidance as he recalls the perils of incarceration and the misery of heartache, resulting in one of the album’s strongest offerings. But aside from “Dejanbem” and the album’s title, Haitian Boy Kodak hardly scratches the surface of his life’s story, leaving unanswered questions and little context.
Of course, there are moments on Haitian Boy Kodak when the Dade County rapper shows signs of the lyrical spontaneity and stream-of-consciousness which brought him to the forefront of his generation earlier this decade, but instead of the nuanced, clever bars found in projects such as 2018’s Dying to Live or even 2017’s Painting Pictures, we’re left with a scattered assortment of half-built ideas.
Sure, there’s “Round The Roses” and “Z Look Jamaican,” two tracks which will likely rack up some streams and receive some radio play, but those songs can’t hold a flame to Kodak’s previous hits won’t stand as meaningful offerings in the “Lockjaw” rapper’s discography.
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Unsurprisingly, Haitian Boy Kodak received a paltry reception, but instead of reflecting on the album’s core issues, Kodak ranted on Instagram about receiving little playlisting or industry support. Perhaps Kodak will break free from the rut he’s occupied since last year’s Bill Israel, we’ll be waiting. Until then: The Z Looks…unfocused.
Kodak Black new Album Haitian Boy Kodak was ok ??. It wasn’t all that to me.
— THE YOUNG GOAT ? (@YoungLegend600) May 14, 2021
This new “Haitian Boy Kodak” by Kodak Black has to be the WORST album/EP by a major artist in the last 50 years.
Every single track is a “skip.” https://t.co/gcZ2uufQbM
— ?????????? (@ShamDeluxe) May 14, 2021