Kodak Black may be the best rapper to come out of Pompano Beach. By 18, he put out some of our favorite tracks of 2015 and earned co-signs from Drake, Meek Mill, K Camp, and Earl Sweatshirt. Known for his wild live shows and goofy, turned-up Instagram personality, Black is shameless when it comes to showing off his mouth full of gold teeth and stacks of money, but the young rapper helping put Broward on the map had to fight to get where he's at now.
Kodak Black came from humble beginnings. According to him, growing up in the low-income housing project Golden Acres Developments in Pompano Beach gave him two options: sell drugs with a gun on his hip or rap. So he set up shop recording out of the back of a trap house and has been on that grind ever since.
Black's latest project, Heart of the Projects, has garnered more than 16 million plays to date, but his popularity hasn't been confined to the internet. South Florida fans keep tracks like "SKRT" and "No Flocking'" on blast for a night out, and if you ask Drake, he's not sleeping either.
There's no denying the potential impact of a shoutout from Drake on Instagram, a #FreeKodak tag from Meek Mill, or a nod from underground rap darling Earl Sweatshirt. But Black is quick to point out that it's certainly not everything. “I don’t think an artist needs a co-sign," he asserts. "You can get people in the streets on your side or word-of-mouth. That’s how I came up, from the streets."
The 18-year-old Haitian is a self-described “Project Baby” who's been pushing his music hard in his local Pompano and all around Florida, playing everywhere from Miami strip joints to rowdy Orlando nightclubs. Now he's booking shows from Brooklyn to Santa Ana, and he wants us to know it wasn't a co-sign from Drake that got him where he is today. While he says the Drake nod "motivated me to keep pushing," make no mistake: "It didn’t get me where I am today. My music did,” says Black. “It has to be deeper than rap.”
Black's success so far may go deeper than rap, but it hasn't kept him out of trouble. In early October, Black was arrested on charges of robbery, assault, and kidnapping. When the police pulled him over, they found marijuana and a suspended driver’s license. No stranger to the court systems or juvenile hall, that hasn't stopped Kodak from making hits.
With tracks like his hit single "SKRT" blowing up and new music on the way, Black comes across rather unfazed. “I don’t even think about it,” he says. Though he appreciates the love, he's not letting it get to his head, and he has plenty of more important things to worry about, including upcoming shows and new music dropping at the end of this year.
“I’m just trying to gain and maintain and do me,” says Black. “I worked with Plies on his mixtape [Ain’t No Mixtape Bih 2], and I have a lot more coming.”
The Institution, his next project, is set for a Christmas Day release. While he wouldn’t tell us who’s featured, we're betting it will be worth the wait. “New music to bring in the new year is a good thing" says Black. "I just keep grinding.”