Kid Ink Almost Included Pharrell On His Album

You’ve got two Chris Brown records on there, too, including the single “Show Me.”
At first we were only planning on having one Mustard record and one Chris Brown record, and we ended up cutting both those at night. The first thought was, choose one of them, and then the other one we’ll just have in the arsenal to leak or something like that. Chris ended up putting it on his mixtape at first, which I thought was dope just because it felt like he was co-signing it a little bit more and making it seem real, like it wasn’t just a one-time, label favor situation, like he was actually rocking with me. So we ended up getting a crazy response from the record, and had a more turnt up version of the record with me on it, and decided at the end to use it on the album and just see where it goes and let the music speak for itself and not be concerned if people think it’s a gimmick or anything like that.

I saw Forbes had a writeup on the album, and they said that the album opens up possibilities—like an artist doesn’t have to stick to just one sound all the time.
I’ve always felt that way about music, but I feel it’s a little more open now and it’s going a little bit more in that direction if you just own it. Own that, and always make sure you’re trying and doing something different and making sure the fans aren’t bored. I feel like I’ve broken different barriers, and people are gonna listen to me more, as an overall artist and not just a radio artist, or a mixtape artist—they’re listening for the hook and the lyrics on the verses, so it’s dope, man.

What were some of the biggest things you learned, or that changed for you, being on the 2012 XXL Freshman cover?
It just gave me an opportunity to get my face out and open up other people’s ears to see what Kid Ink is about. I feel like it gave everybody on the cover a nice shot, a one-time shot that some people took and ran with it, and some people didn’t take it and run with it. You can really tell, just from the work, what people were working on, and how people took that. Some people might have gotten it and felt like, “Oh, I didn’t really need it,” and those are the ones who really did and still need it today. [Laughs] But that just is what it is. It just motivated me to work harder, and all the people I saw before it, you could tell the ones, like I said, and I was like, “I gotta do at least as much, if not more, as these people in order to feel like I can get there, too.”

The West Coast is really poppin’ off—Mustard, YG, Nipsey, Ty Dolla $ign—how do you feel about that whole West Coast movement?
I think it’s about West Coast artists feeling like they needed to do it themselves and not care about the stereotypes. At first, everyone was waiting for co-signs; you were waiting for your Dre or Game or Snoop co-sign. And people even in the city felt like until you got that co-sign, there was nothing really that you could do out of the West Coast. So for everyone to really break out of that and strive—even though the Kendrick situation was with Dre, I didn’t feel like it was Dre’s sound, Kendrick still did his own thing and made it happen—it’s just artists who wanted to break down the barriers. And there’s still people like YG and Mustard who can take a sound that was a little bit older and just revamp it and make it their own and make it new, too. Not to say that we can’t have a West Coast sound, but just make it different for a new generation. I felt like they definitely did—and including Ty Dolla $ign—they brought something out of the West Coast and have made it something that you might only get from the West Coast at this point.