Show & Prove: Kodak Black
Words: Kathy Iandoli
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

It took a random Instagram post of Drake dancing to Kodak Black’s street track “SKRT” to propel the 18-year-old rapper to a graduated level of buzz, but his connection to Drizzy came way before that.

“I used to listen to that song, ‘I just wanna be successful!’” Kodak admits, referencing Drake’s hit single “Successful.” “I was like, ‘I’ma be where bruh at.’ I used to watch him on Degrassi.” The Pompano Beach, Fla. native spits considerable truth within his bars. Born Dieuson Octave, the young rapper got his start penning entry-level rhymes at the age of 9.

By his teenage years he was performing at high school pep rallies, running through the local school circuit and building an organic buzz, punctuating it with the usual online rounds. “I was uploading on YouTube and stuff, and they were liking it or whatever,” Kodak says. “I just kept elevating and elevating. I had little setbacks, but I used them as stepping stones.” The setbacks in question are a handful of legal squabbles the artist has encountered during his short tenure in the game. In October of 2015, Kodak was dealing with a laundry list of charges, including weed possession, battery, robbery, and even false imprisonment of a child.

While he alludes to his tangled history, most notably on his most recent release, Institution, it seems those days are behind him and a future in music is ahead. “He has a gravitation that’s just out of this world,” says DJ Nasty of Miami’s 99 Jamz. “It’s just a thing I’ve never seen before.” While signed to local Broward County label Dollaz N Dealz Ent and taking meetings with the majors, Kodak is working to set himself up for big things. And fans don’t have to wait long for new music from the “Skrilla” rapper; he’ll be dropping a mixtape in June. Until then, he holds no punches about who he is and where he plans to go. “I’ma be a living legend, you dig? I’ma lift off with whatever I do.”

Check out more from XXL’s Spring 2016 issue including Big Sean’s cover story, the Letter from the Editor, Macklemore’s thoughts on White privilege and more.

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