Kid Ink smokes one of his 28 (or 14) joints per day, depending on whether or not it was a good day, when this photo was taken. Credit: Paul Warner/Getty Images
There’s a rap battle royale between the likes of A$AP Rocky and his mob, Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz — and the new contender Kid Ink is soon to join the ruckus.
The L.A.-born Ink, like A$AP & co., has gathered a following through YouTube and independent releases such as “Up & Away,” selling 20,000 copies in its first week. While sales and social media (over 411,000 followers on Twitter) mark a steady rise, it’s his mistaken identity with R&B bad boy Chris Brown that has been of comical concern. It’s an issue he’s tackling by bringing his so-called doppelganger closer in his collaboration “Show Me” which was released this past September .
The 27-year-old Ink — real name Brian Todd Collins — is currently etching his name into the music scape through a European tour and his new album, “My Own Lane,” which drops Jan. 7.
Seeing as this is your debut album, is it important the tracks define you and your personality?
Yeah, man. That’s the best way to put it, really. The track “My Own Lane” is defining my own lane in the industry. It’s a message to my core fans who already rock with me and for me to define Kid Ink to new listeners, so that they’re not just basing their judgments off two to three records.
What did you learn from the response to your “Almost Home” EP? Do you take in the fans’ response?
When I release stuff on leaked websites or free music, that’s when I really get the feedback. I try to make sure I release different stuff and see what people gravitate towards – the EP was definitely to test that out.
What have you learned from your fans?
Honestly, the biggest thing I’ve learned is the fans do want to hear me by myself. Some people have that insecurity about whether they need to have a feature on a record.
Do you have that insecurity?
To a certain extent you need a call sign to feel like you’re doing more, you’re doing better. Sometimes when fans see those features they get a little bit more eager to click and you can feed of that. But my biggest thing is that I like to have features on the hooks: I write songs and write melodies that I want other people to sing.
Why were you keen to be associated with Chris [Brown]?
[Chuckles] Me and Chris worked when I was independent — he hopped on a remix. He was just mad cool and I think when me and Chris are together, people don’t compare us as much. Working with Chris has helped me separate myself from him.
There’s been a lot of talk about who is the biggest rapper in New York out of Rocky and Kendrick Lamar. What’s your opinion?
[Laughs] Obviously A$AP Rocky is the biggest artist in New York and Kendrick Lamar is the biggest artist in hip-hop.
Are you going to take that crown?
If I’m patient and I have some time, that’s my plan, man.
You used to be a producer but I’m guessing that there are perks to being a rapper?
Yeah, man [laughs]. Definitely some perks. I meet people who I met as a producer and they don’t even remember you.
[Laughs] Of course, man. Girls are motivated by success and fun.
In “Time of Your Life,” you almost get busted by the police. Have you ever been?
[Cackles] All the time, man. Nothing major has happened, man. I think the best thing to do is to act like you don’t know what’s going on [laughs]. But I don’t have to worry about those things in L.A. now I’m a "celebrity." If I get into trouble, I know how to sweet talk officers.
What happened the last time you got pulled over?
Last time I got pulled over, it smelled like smoke (marijuana). I was shooting a video and I had five girls in the car. It was a four-seater so one of them wasn’t in a seat and it was a convertible drop top Maserati with no seat belts, no nothing — and the girls had all been drinking. The cop pulled us over and said, “What are you doing?” I was like, “Shooting a video.” He says, “Where did you just come from?” “I’ve been touring with Kendrick Lamar,” you know. And the cop’s all like “Kendrick Lamar is my favorite rapper and are you girls in the video?” Just things like that seem to get me out of trouble.
Does weed help with your creativity?
I feel like it depends on the mood and the vibe of the record. It’s all about clearing your mind — sometimes when you get into the studio you can be a little too focused.
How many joints do you smoke a day?
I tried to calculate it — 28 on a good day and 14 on a bad day.