On The Concept Of Selling Out & Working with Timbaland: A European Tour Post-Show Sit-Down With Kid Ink

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Backstage of the legendary concert hall, Nosturi in Helsinki, Finland, Kid Ink puffs on a backwoods moments after exiting the stage following a high-energy performance that had the compact all ages crowd losing their voice and minds simultaneously. He’s still out of breath, but that doesn’t stop him from inhaling some European loud.

Things have been hectic recently for the Batgang leader, who has been living on a bus for the past two months, travelling from country to country on his European tour, still getting love from My Own Lane, which dropped at the beginning of the year. But the Kid is focused on the new and now, recently dropping the playful video for “Body Language” featuring Tinashe and Usher, along with the thumping EDM cut “Delirious” with Steve Aoki. The close proximity of the tracks’ releases and the totally different vibe of each of them has some of his dedicated fan-base dancing sporadically, while leaving others wondering if they can expect Kid Ink to go completely left on his next album.

Although vastly different sonically, the recent collaborative releases are a newly focused strategic move for the creative LA rapper, whose musical interests crosses boundaries from rap, mainstream pop to house music. As a genuine fan of multiple genres, Kid Ink attests that he is adamant about working with artists that inspire him to push the boundaries of his creative vision while proving his musical range. All without seeming like a mainstream sell-out – an accusation reserved for artists that sacrifice their signature sound and original cult following for the mainstream spotlight. You know the ones, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube.

“I think it’s all about being a fan of that person and then it making sense sound-wise, because with the situation with me and Steve Aoki, it’s me being a fan of him first and then him researching and being a fan of what I do and seeing it visibly and getting in the studio and not just saying, ‘alright, this is a song I have and it has to be like this,’ it’s more coming together and doing what makes sense for both people on both sides. So we just got in the studio the first day and it definitely took two sessions and really sitting down and making sure that both of our audiences would be pleased at the same time and no one would feel like it was a sell-out situation,” he says.

Expansion is the goal of Cali’s Kid Ink, who looks forward to his new music, new collaborations and shares that he’s about to hit the studio with his long-time idol, Timbaland.

How was tonight in Helsinki compared to other stops on your European tour and how does Europe compare to shows back home?

Anywhere outside of the states, the crowd is more prone to go crazy and have fun, because they think they’re only going to be able to see me once and sometimes it is only once in a year. I don’t know when I’ll be back here, so it’s kind of like this is a once in a lifetime experience, I’m to do everything I talked about doing all year.

My Own Lane dropped in January and here it is October and you’re still touring off of it. You must be itching for a new set.

Every tour, I itch for a new set after it’s done. For me, it’s not only wanting to do new music, but feeling like the show is getting old to some of the fans, so I don’t want a boring set or for them to see it the last three times. So I definitely want to get new music done and get that next project done. I definitely, while making the single, came across a few records that I feel close to my heart about. I have a microphone and everything is set up on the bus so when I have that time and I’m not in need of rest, just go in and record. The new music so far is definitely a little bit more creative, just as far as thoughts and subject matter. I don’t feel like it has to be about solely what Kid Ink is. It can a little bit more about story-telling and subjects that people can relate to. It doesn’t have to be ‘this is what Kid Ink is going through right now.

Can fans expect a completely new sound on your upcoming album slated for 2015 from past work considering the hints you’ve been giving with recent collaborations?

With my first project, I was a little bit more focused on being a certain kind of way and not making the fun music that I made on mixtapes and really just letting it be free. But I think it’s a little bit back into that, because the ones that I had fun with ended up being the singles.

What does it say about you as an artist when you hop from pop collabs, to r&b, to house music to hip-hop in such a short amount of time?

I think it just says that I’m a fan of all types of music and that I’m not sold on just myself. I pay attention to what everyone else has going on and what they can help bring to my table. From there, it falls into the lane of, when you hear my album, you just won’t know what to expect. It won’t be like, ‘I know I’m going to buy this album, because it’s going to have all these types of songs on it,’ It’s always going to be two or three just sneakies, just ‘Oh man, he did that. I didn’t expect that one.’ I always try to keep that mind-frame… Sometimes I think working with hip-hop artists, some hip-hop artists have their very strong mindset and opinion about how they should come across, how they should sound or how they should look. And with subject matter, sometimes they aren’t as eager to go left and try a different creative thing. I think it’s easier sometimes when you’re in with more pop artists who’s used to having writers write with them all the time and give them ideas and share where hip-hop writers are pro creators and write everything down to the tee. Sometimes you’ll find artists that are more prone to take ideas and sometimes there are ones that are stubborn on their ideas.

Is it easier to take creative liberties and not have to worry so much about fitting a mold with a cult following like the Batgang has?

Sometimes with the super cult following and loyal fans, they want you to be some type of way, so I think with that, they’ll always grow to love you and understand you hopefully, but I think at first, they definitely expect you to [be the same]. ‘Why’s he doing this?’ ‘Why’s he trying to be like this?’ ‘Why is he sounding like that? ‘I wish he would be back to the old Kid Ink.’ So I think it’s just natural with those hands that are really die-hard.

Who can fans expect you to collaborate with next?

As soon as I get off the tour, I wanna get in the studio with Timbaland. We’ve already tried to set it up and arrange it. The schedules don’t work now, because obviously I’m everywhere in Europe. I think it’s about getting right off tour and going to his studio and getting some work in quick.

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