In spite of his huge success and colossal profile, there’s a sense in some quarters that Kid Ink remains under-rated. Perhaps it’s the way he’s concentrated on his film work, boosting his profile without releasing a studio album in six years. Or perhaps it’s the nature of his punchy, chart-friendly rap music – a world away from his underground origins, it’s actually a subtle act to get right.
‘ALIVE’ won’t dispel the haters, but it definitely re-affirms Kid Ink as one of the most naturally gifted MCs out there. It’s succinct – 10 tracks, with three bonus cuts – and this punchy, finely contoured tracklist places the LA rapper front and centre. Three features – Rory Fresco, Bricc Baby, and ISM – are utilised, but the emphasis is continually on Kid Ink’s craft, on his varied flows.
‘New New’ is an arena-packing opener, set to be utilised when arenas can finally re-open once more. ‘Night & Day’ switches it up, before ‘Red Light’ shows Kid Ink at his most venomous. ‘Don’t Want Me To Win’ pushes back against the haters, before crunching finale ‘Kick Back’ brings the record to a close.
‘ALIVE’ doesn’t out-stay it’s welcome, while providing more evidence that Kid Ink can cut it with the best of them. The feeling of promise unfulfilled remains, though; the rapper doesn’t rock the boat, and by sticking to perceived strengths somewhat limits himself. That said, as a piece of mainstream rap done well, it doesn’t come much better.
Words: Robin Murray
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