Review: Kid Ink’s ‘Full Speed’ Lacks Four-Wheel Drive
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Los Angeles’ Kid Ink has blossomed into a poster boy for the classless rapper. The tatted-up lothario found his calling card in cahoots with Chris Brown on 2013’s “Show Me” single, hooked around a sizable sample of Robin S’ similarly titled ’90s dance-pop hit. Since that breakthrough moment, his career has been finely tuned to focus on the sole goal of scoring the soundtrack to a Sweet-16 party going down at a delusionally ritzy suburban nightclub. The Kid’s fourth studio album, Full Speed, suggests it’s a conceit that reeks of oblivious distaste; while he attempts to revel in brags like “feel fresh like Axe on me,” the experience here only leaves you wondering how to extinguish the whiff.
The 12-track set is sparked by “What It Feels Like,” which at least attempts to be the sort of brooding statement of intent akin to how rappers with a fluke crossover hit love to open their follow-up album. But instead of a reactionary outpouring of frustration or addressing the criticisms — a lyrical performance to remind everyone that the emcee can still spit with venom — the song stumbles into throwaway territory when the Kid is content to mumble deep thoughts like, “Man, this shit is too real life.” Building on this lackluster salvo, the rest of the project soon emerges as a textbook example of tackiness.
Despite somewhat man-of-the-moment DJ Mustard notching two behind-the-boards credits (and upcomer Metro Boomin’ closing the project out in a perkier fashion on “Like a Hott Boy”), the production feels culled from a Random Club Banger Generator. Tracks like “About Mine” and “Dolo” show an ambition only to become part of the background ambiance of a supermarket. To this sonic sheet Kid Ink adds one-liners that dwell in equally corny climes. Kicked in a brogue that often attempts to channel a singsong style but more often sounds like a whine, boasts like “Been drinking like you’re thirsty” commingle with outdated barbs like “Life is a bitch crazier than Kelis.”
What disappoints most about Full Speed though is how despite the slick sheen, its lasting impression is characterized by a lack of ambition or awareness. The album should be a bright lights journey through Kid Ink’s club-hopping, a world of late-night revelry and sexual shenanigans — but it never hints at an escape from the small-time. This is a dude who sees ordering bottle service in a garish club as an end-goal in itself, rather than an accoutrement to prosperity. And like the Kid’s favored body spray, it’s mostly memorable for its insolent reek.