On March 31 of 2017, Florida rapper Kodak Black released his debut full-length album, all of his previous releases being mixtapes. After blowing up in 2014/2015 from the release of No Flocking, he then appeared on the highly controversial XXL Freshman cypher for the 2016 Freshman class. Kodak has never been one to shy away from controversy, but as a result, he has been a notorious receiver of L’s. From dissing Lil Wayne, to appearing on The Breakfast Club in a ski mask, to dropping his phone in the shower while livestreaming (thus showing his manhood to the entirety of the internet). Even amongst fans of trap music, Kodak isn’t exactly a favourite. Unlike the legendary trap rappers like Young Thug and Future, where their fanbase is likely well over 90% of the trap fanbase, Kodak lies somewhere around the 50%. His voice isn’t very charismatic and his flow is generally really underdeveloped and either generic or below average in quality. However, on this album, it seems Kodak has stepped up his game on all levels.
Whereas on previous releases, Kodak has been unable to keep up with the pace of the instrumental, Painting Pictures shows us a side of Kodak that seems a little bit more alert, if that’s even possible. He has moments that make the listener think whether or not he could have done another take, however these moments are few and far in between. For the most part, Kodak has a passable flow, and what takes the quality of it above average is his vocal inflection. He may not rap very fast or with high technical ability, but his low key sing-song voice that hops from one note to the other makes for a very interesting listen. It’s on the songs where he doesn’t do this where the listener may feel kind of bored. Like on the track “U Aint Never,” where Kodak’s performance induces a level of drowsiness so high, Nyquil should purchase the formula. It’s only saved by the cool, jazzy instrumental, and even that gets kind of repetitive.
The following song, though, “Twenty 8,” is one of the catchiest, bounciest, happy trap songs ever. It doesn’t stand up to the likes of “Wyclef Jean” by Young Thug or “Broccoli” by DRAM and Lil Yachty, but it’s definitely good for a few listens. The hook is definitely the type to make groups of friends chant them in the streets.
As always, the main complaint the listener might have against Kodak is his lack of good lyrics. However, for the most part, while the lyrics make little to no sense, they will induce a good chuckle from time to time. Of course, people did use the “pussy bald like Caillou” line way before Kodak, his voice and tone make it much funnier than those who’ve done it before him. On the song “Patty Cake,” the production is really high key, with happy piano arpeggios and a sort of fast paced tempo. The hook on this is probably the catchiest on the album.
Some songs, however, are annoying as hell. “Save You,” shows Kodak return to his roots of atrocious singing and horrifically unintelligible combinations of verse and ad-lib. The beat, like the vast majority on the album, is happy, but it’s so boring and uninteresting, it sounds like an 8th grader made it on a boot leg FL Studio for his first time. It was made by NAV though, so it was kind of expected.
The two most famous tracks on the album are “Conscious” and “Tunnel Vision,” the latter being more famous. That being so, I want to focus more on the former. It’s a hookless exchange between Kodak Black and Future. Future by far takes the track for his own with his signature autotune voice, higher energy, and superior lyrics. If anyone knows how to rap about wealth and the streets in trap music, it’s Future. On the other hand, we have Kodak with one of his most interesting flows on the album, albeit talking about buying “that bitch a wig because she got no hair,” for no apparent reason.
All in all, the album is really happy and uplifting, and if it’s not upbeat, it’s mellow. Unfortunately, the mellow tracks are all garbage with horrible flows, but thankfully there’s not many of them. For the most part Kodak steps up his game, but he still brings a few of his notorious flaws to the table.Not only that, but the album is 18 tracks long. Kodak has as much ability to carry an album for that long as he has the ability to stay out of jail.