Breaking into rap is a tricky thing. You want to be able to stand out from the ever-growing number of MCs competing for radio, digital space and overall attention. But moving too far out the box can be a detriment.
When Los Angeles rap rookie Kid Ink splashed onto the scene with his 2012 independent LP Up & Away, it was hard to see where he'd fit in. We knew we liked him; after all, Ink sold an impressive 20,000 copies in his debut week and showed off his songwriting skills with the catchy single "Time of Your Life." Still, for those outside of Kid Ink's dedicated fanbase, he remained largely unknown and undefined; My Own Lane is a definite coming-out party.
When fans officially get their hands on Kid Ink's major-label debut on January 7, they find out a couple of things, the most notable is the rapper's got a knack for making larger-than-life party anthems.
The Chris Brown-assisted "Show Me," with its DJ Mustard production and interpolation of Robin S.'s 1993 dance hit "Show Me Love," is only the tip of the iceberg. On the album-opening "Hello World," Ink employs a catchy sing-song flow over pop rock drums and an all-too-joyous piano.
"The Movement" starts with a futuristic funk build courtesy of accomplished producer Danja (Britney Spears' "Gimme More," Keri Hilson's "Knock You Down" and DJ Khaled's "We Takin' Over"). The track's kinetic drum assault, lush horns and brooding bass set the stage for Ink to celebrate his own success. "If we talking about numbers really me and you don't speak well/ Just go ahead with your mixtape, I'm killing it with my pre-sale," he brags to lesser-accomplished rappers.
There are clear-cut pop moments, but My Own Lane has a hardened core. "Murda" with Pusha T is sure to please strict rap enthusiasts and the previously released "No Option" with King Los is a lyrical joust with one of the game's most-respected spitters.
If there is any knock against My Own Lane, one can point to the dizzying amount of guest appearances, still Ink owns each and every one of them. "We Just Came To Party" is a slow-rolling cat call with singer August Alsina, while on "I Don't Care" with Bei Maejor finds Ink throwing his middle finger to haters with an R&B flow.
By the time we hit the album closer, "More Than a King," Kid Ink is pounding his chest over an ever-changing beat. Some fans may have been unsure of Ink's place amongst rap's new class, but he's known all along — he's a hit maker, with true hip-hop roots. "Pull to the side, this is my own lane/ Speeding over limit, hitting corners in a maze/ I can see where we going, hope the signs don't change," he raps to close his debut LP with an unwavering confidence.