On Thursday night (March 30), a batch of music journalists and tastemakers swarmed Landmark Sunshine Cinema in downtown New York City to listen to burgeoning rap star Kodak Black's debut album Painting Pictures several hours before its official release.
Despite his absence (he is currently incarcerated for violating his probation in February), the label seamlessly transformed the movie theater into Black's personal playpen. At the entrance, an animated poster of the Florida rapper greeted those who were eager to listen to his latest offering. On the second floor at the concession stands was a sign that showed his loaded track-list; rap heavyweights Future, Jeezy, Young Thug, and Bun B appear as featured guests. As fans journeyed onto the third floor, bottles of Belaire and Hennessey were flowing in Styrofoam cups bearing Black's semblance.
By 7:45 p.m., Black and WorldStarHipHop's Project Baby debuted, honing in on the rise of rap's most polarizing newcomer. Viewers encountered a younger version of Black, as his freestyle over Wale's "Ambition" blared through the speakers. Hungry to cement his name in rap, Black delivered blistering bars over the MMG signee's track, which later propelled him to higher heights in Florida's rap scene.
"Black was a project baby," recalled Polo Pooh, a close friend of the young Pompano Beach-bred phenom. Often embroiled in skirmishes and legal mishaps, Black revealed that he was "gifted," but trapped in a rough environment. "I was bad, but I was smart," he said.
The documentary also featured footage of Black working with Future on a song titled "Conscience." With his vocals soaked in Auto-Tune, Future compares himself to James Harden while acknowledging how "all my n----s got love for me." (Black is also slated to be an opener for the Atlanta hitmaker's forthcoming Nobody Safe tour.)
Packed with bangers including his fiery Billboard Hot 100 hit "Tunnel Vision," Painting Pictures puts Black's best foot forward despite his current circumstances. Tracks like his radio-friendly tune "Patty Cake" and "Save Me" will have the ladies thirsting for more from the 19-year-old spitter. On the former, Black raps about "sipping Belaire with my girl from Bel Air," while on the latter, he vows to protect his damsel in distress from any harm.
Black's most touching record, perhaps, is his intro "Day for Day," where he somberly raps about his turbulent life pre-hip-hop and vows to put on for his 'hood. He offers, "Neighborhood hero, I know I'm gonna save the day."
Stream Kodak Black's Painting Pictures album and watch a teaser for his Project Baby documentary below.