Last yr was arguably one the extra rewarding years for Florida rapper Kodak Black so far as his musical profession went. The now 21-year outdated Bill Ok. Kapri launched his debut album Painting Pictures in addition to the sprawling Project Baby 2 to a lot fanfare and business success, whereas discovering himself out and in incarceration, in addition to racking up additional authorized points. Naturally, this yr has been a substantial slow-down, with solely his R&B undertaking Heartbreak Kodak launched originally this yr, whetting followers’ appetites till his last-minute album launch, Dying to Live. At 16 tracks, it is a curious new chapter to the profession Kodak Black, as we discover him trying to revisit his darker moments introspection and develop additional as a rapper whereas nonetheless persevering with to make himself one the most popular ‘new stars’ within the rap recreation. But how effectively does the younger rapper succeed on his sophomore album?
As against final yr’s Painting Pictures, a majority the manufacturing on Dying to Live goes for beats that convey deeper, emotional sounds, hanging over the album in a depressing trend. Given such a moody palette obsessive about vibes, it’s no marvel that the album has already earned a co-sign from Drake lengthy earlier than most people has weighed in on their approval Kodak’s latest fering. This weighty, severe tone fits Kodak’s strengths extra ten than the extra nice or cleaner sounds, but it may handle to really feel like an oppressive and laborious trek by an endlessly lilting drift. Exceptions actually exist on Dying to Live such because the Travis Scott and Offset-assisted single “ZEZE” or the Cash Money-style throwback jam “Identity Theft,” however for probably the most half you’ll be able to count on a smoked out mid-tempo vibe to wade by whereas Kodak does his finest to wax poetic. That mentioned, the beats in query are high notch efforts by Kodak’s returning core staff Ben Billions, Dyryk & Rex Kudo in addition to assist from hitmakers equivalent to D.A. Doman, London on tha Track, Southside and plenty of others. With not a transparent ‘dud’ in sight, the manufacturing aspect Dying to Live is respectable however stays one the numerous factors the place listeners can really feel both immersed or repelled whereas participating.
Confoundingly, the album feels cut up between the instructions indicated on each Project Baby 2 and Painting Pictures respectively, for higher or worse. On one hand, Kodak seems to be trying to imitate his thought what a business rapper needs to be, permitting collaborators who assure business recognition with out the extra apparent makes an attempt at mainstream compromise. “ZEZE” isn’t Kodak notably targeted or fascinating, however the repetitive metal drum hooks in addition to Travis’ refrain are completely appropriate so far as business singles go. Yet the opposite makes an attempt at radio-friendly Kodak materials are frustratingly clean; whether or not it’s the boring “Gnarly” during which all individuals Lil Pump outraps and out boneheads Kodak over the trance-tinged synths, or “Moshpit” which consists forgettable manufacturing and a Juice WRLD function you could possibly’ve simply mistaken as a miscredited Post Malone verse. If it is any condolence, Kodak Black has overtly admitted that these specific collaborations had been all a ploy to spice up his streaming numbers, he too isn’t enthralled with them. At the top the day, what helps Dying to Live enhance the place Painting Pictures ten lacked is it is full-on dives into the extra morose and darkish narcissism which has ten proved to be probably the most fruitful enviornment exploration for Kodak.
This isn’t to say that the ‘darkish’ data aren’t with out their missteps both. Once you get previous the fuzzed out, gothic string samples on “Take One,” the rapping is oddly flat for all the numerous threats Kodak tries to convey. Likewise on the London on tha Track produced “This Forever,” it’s a uncommon time when Kodak fails to ship the emotional depth mirrored by the ethereal beat. However, when the depressive swirls “Testimony” or the ravey sub-bass “Transgressions” kick in throughout that first half the album, you’ll be able to hear the urgency in Kodak’s rhymes and supply from miles away. While these two are uncommon moments extreme persona in the course of the ‘conservative’ first half the album, they rapidly give approach to a dense second half which is acquainted territory for followers Project Baby 2, as Kodak dives headfirst into his traditional mix road imagery and self-obsessed agonizing. And whereas the second half isn’t with out it’s disruptive moments (“Calling My Spirit” options some somewhat strained use autotune and “Could Of Been Different” options Kodak rapping at uncharacteristic speeds and rhythms that might in all probability throw f longtime followers and informal listeners alike), listening to data equivalent to “Malcolm X.X.X.,” “In The Flesh” or “From the Cradle” is listening to Kodak at his most potent.
While Dying to Live doesn’t really feel just like the strongest launch by Kodak, it appears like Kodak’s strongest ‘studio album’ up to now and hints that his improvement isn’t but completed. Given the rapper’s incapacity to maintain himself out hassle, there’s little assure that he has the possibility to completely notice his potential regardless of all of the soul-searching that he commits to on wax. Furthermore, it appears that evidently whereas Kodak is studying pretty effectively how you can promote himself as a singles artist, he may do even higher to make radio conform to him and showcase the sort music he does so magnificently. In the meantime nevertheless, Dying to Live demonstrates that regardless of a relatively calm output in 2018, Kodak Black stays one the top-tier his era and is more and more making ready to imagine such a stage among the many whole rap recreation.