At just 19 years of age, Kodak Black has lived one hell of a life. A documentary about his come up into the game arrived on Friday, illustrating the finesse kid’s pathway to his debut album on a major label, Painting Pictures. At such a tender age, it may seem ridiculous that anyone that young should warrant a full-blown, Worldstar Hip-Hop-endorsed documentary. But for someone with a history as dramatic as Kodak’s, it is compelling and essential viewing for fans old and new who want to truly gauge what Project Baby is all about.
Kodak often gets dismissed by fans of the likes of J.Cole, Joey Bada$$ and other #woke rappers as trash, and he himself acknowledges there’s a lot of people that still don’t get him. His raps are by no means strictly about “putting Molly in his lean.” As the documentary highlights, Kodak’s ability to reflect the harsh realities of growing up in the projects of Florida with themes like redemption, mental health, growing up in a single-parent house and musings on his own insecurities is largely unprecedented for any other rapper his age. Whilst he has been embroiled in a host of criminality and licks to finesse his way to the top, Kodak has the sort of heart-warming, candid charm that garners a lot of popularity, which could ultimately end up taking him to the very top of the game.
Fundamentally though, Kodak has already delivered a huge amount of hits in such a short space of time. While Kodak’s only Top-10 hit on the Billboard chart is the viral, Metro Boomin-produced “Tunnel Vision,” the Floridian has already released four full-lengths, packed full of all the rowdiness and affliction you’d associate from a 19 year old rap prodigy. In no particular order, we rounded up his ten best songs to celebrate the release of his debut Painting Pictures.
Kodak was only 16 when he recorded this track, and only 17 in the above video, which sees him stunting with his crew in front of a recently purchased “new-old Jag”. Kodak murders his money-hungry bars over the ominous, minor-key VinnyxProd-produced beat.
This motivational anthem is one of the more overlooked tracks in Kodak’s back catalogue. Taken from his 2015 project “Institution,” Kodak spits about his desire to get grinding again and get his life back in order over the booming trap instrumental.
Kodak’s self-assurity on “Like Dat” gives way to the Floridian’s most iconic bars, “I’m smokin’ broccoli count this green / I put Molly in my lean.” For many, it is the rhyming couplet most synonymous with Kodak.
Vibin In This Bih
This release featured a then-incarcerated Kodak joining a recently-released Gucci Mane on one of the most uptempo anthems in the finesse kid’s arsenal. Kodak’s ferocious flow is matched by an audibly hungry Gucci, who growls “Locked me in the box and I’m coming out swinging,” he does so resoundingly, with the best feature on Lil Big Pac.
In his documentary, Kodak talks about knowing whether he wants to listen to a song after listening to its beat for just three seconds. “Skrilla” is a perfect example of that mantra. Just watching the start of this video gives you an insight into the renowned electricity Kodak’s live shows are all about, as well as the fanfare he had built up even at the tender age of 17.
Completely stealing the limelight from French Montana (a fairly common feat), Kodak shines through on one of his best ever features. Rapping about his love for drugs and money, Kodak’s favourite trait of flashing his grills is summarised in the tracks namesake.
There He Go
After being released from jail at the end of 2016, Kodak returned with “There He Go,” a track pointing to the fact that regardless of whether he’s locked up or out and about, people have their eyes firmly planted on what his next moves are.
Many attribute Kodak’s rise to fame after Drake was captured dancing along to this infectiously melancholic track. “SKRT” is also the song which, arguably, made the ad-lib become of the most frequently used expressions in hip-hop, and now popular culture.
Touching on themes like black masculinity, fears over his own mortality and the sexual frustration of a 19-year old, this is Kodak at his most candid as he talks about wanting to be out of prison.
The now-viral track captured the hearts of Youtube dancers as much as it did music journalists, who swooned over the surprisingly politically-charged video, matched only by the strength of the song itself.
For more of our best tracks features, check out our list of every single Gorillaz track ranked from worst to best right here.