Dollaz N Dealz Ent
Dollaz N Dealz Ent

Landing a spot on the 2016 XXL Freshman class cover is no simple task. In order to snag a spot on the desired cover, rappers need to represent both the current hip-hop landscape while standing out from the millions of other MCs trying to make it. This year’s freshman class has some of the most promising new acts hip-hop has seen in a while, including Kodak Black. The 19-year-old Florida rapper currently sits behind bars due to outstanding warrants stemming from last year but somehow still manages to drop his highly anticipated mixtape, Lil B.I.G. Pac.

Kodak’s rise to fame can really be credited to his innate ability to make catchy music that connects with the younger generation. Considering he's so young himself, Kodak’s innate style caters perfectly to the youth but doesn't stop there; his music reaches the masses no matter the age. His rhymes are simple enough to be trendy and infectious enough to get the party started. Plus, the nonchalant demeanor in which he holds himself reigns supreme for anyone under the age of 25. Of course, deeming yourself a mix of Biggie and Tupac (and claiming to be better than both) may seem a tad presumptuous but for teenagers living and breathing the present online rap world (who have yet to dig back in the crates) a rapper like Kodak fills that God-like void.

Lil B.I.G. Pac is definitely Kodak Black's strongest mixtape to date. His 2014 effort, Heart of the Projects, and 2015’s Institution were solid warm up tapes that exponentially got better and better over time -- ultimately leading up to his best yet. Lil B.I.G. Pac earns this top spot because it simply does a great job at holding the listener’s attention. The subject matter spills over from song to song but in terms of attitude, sound and flow, Kodak switches it up on almost every cut.

“Everything 1K” has Kodak talking a hefty amount of realness with thought-provoking lines like, “Growing up with no father, it’ll make you evil/How he gon’ learn to be a man when you ain’t never teach him?/Youngin’ can’t even read but he totin’ the Desert Eagle/Look how she left, I bet she told you she won’t never leave you.” It’s easy to tell that Kodak has really been dragged through the worst scenarios that America’s poverty-stricken environment has to offer. He even contemplates if he will see the unfolding of his son’s childhood, rapping, “Would I live long enough to raise my son?” which is a preposterous thought for any teenager but coming from Kodak’s early surroundings, it’s just about as real as it gets.

But just when you start to feel bad for the flashy Freshman, “Vibin in This Bih” significantly brightens the day in the nick of time. It’s a high energy swag fest that mentions stealing the next man's girl and stacking plenty of cash. It also features the iciest of them all, Gucci Mane.

Grabbing Boosie Badazz for “Slayed” coupled with a Gucci feature clearly has a positive effect on Kodak’s rapping. Both tracks feature the young rhymer spitting at his very best -- obviously in the efforts to spar bar-for-bar with those who have clearly helped shape his musical style. Even with the two veteran assists and the self-proclaimed embodiment of Biggie and Pac, Kodak sounds more like a young Lil Wayne. The high pitched bounce is everywhere on this tape, especially on “Big Bank” -- it’s actually hard to not mistake it for something off Tha Block Is Hot.

When it comes to the beat selection, the producers know how to support Kodak's unique cadence well. C Clip Beatz offers the best production on the tape with “Gave It All I Got.” The twangy horns on the track can compete right along with Fat Joe and Remy’s “All the Way Up” while the drum patterns rival anything from the talented likes of Metro Boomin. Honorable C.N.O.T.E., Dubba AA, SkipOnDaBeat, SAWD, YodaYae1k and Eyezlowbeats all lend their production to the tape as well.

The only thing Kodak is missing on this tape is a standout track that could take him straight to radio. His PnB Rock collabo "Too Many Years" comes close. PnB's sing-song delivery on the chorus ("I done gave the jails too many years/Years that I won't get back/And I swear I done shed too many tears/For niggas that I won't get back") and Kodak's reality raps ("Why we keep on fallin' victim/Lost up in the system/Miss my brothers and my sisters/Damn I miss my lil one/I know sometimes I be tripping") make the track hard to forget. At such a flourishing stage in his career, Kodak should continue to refine his sound throughout a full body of work but growing the brand via authentic hit records should be somewhere on his radar. With attention spans shortening by the second, Kodak’s follow-up project should aim to have something go far beyond the Internet.

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