28-year-old Los Angeles MC Kid Ink has been slowly building his reputation for a number of years now, consistently grinding and working with a polished, glossy sound. 'Full Speed' is his third studio album, released through The Alumni Music Group, and if there's one thing you can say about Kid Ink it's that he knows exactly who his fan-base is and what they want. His 2014 'My Own Lane' album was packed with radio ready, club friendly tunes that would please most undiscerning hip hop heads; I can't say that the simplistically structured lyrics and safe song concepts made the album a winner for me, but with a year's growth and a fair amount of success, maybe 'Full Speed' would see Ink shift into that next gear.
From the word go, it's pretty clear he hasn't though. I'm not even one of those '90s era and nothing else' guys, but when every track starts to blend into one continuous, rather tame soundtrack to a teenager's pre-drinks session, it really makes me lose faith in the direction of mainstream hip hop. Although the beginning of the 'Full Speed' experience is promising, with the anthemic opener 'What It Feels Like' and the confident 'Faster' providing excellent sonic suitability, if not any particular lyrical depth, it quickly descends into disappointment. Ink's tendency to rely on tired club hooks and boring, played out concepts, such as on 'Dolo' and 'Body Language', make the album a hard listen if you're looking for any kind of substance at all.
The bouncy, glossy instrumentals that Kid Ink uses on this album are most definitely suited to his style, and often carry the songs somewhat; the lyrical content in this is the main thing that I have serious gripes about. This may be club-geared, commercial music, but that doesn't excuse the lacklustre writing displayed throughout. The Chris Brown collaboration 'Hotel' is probably a low point with a rather hypocritical standpoint considering the rest of the album's themes. 'Blunted' is one example of Kid Ink's charismatic flow and delivery, combining with an energetic instrumental with successful results. The clattering snares and melodic spitting make for a busy, yet continuously interesting listen.
'Full Speed' is an album that largely fails to hold my attention, albeit with a couple of redeeming features; the beats are largely well picked and are cohesive and energetic, but Kid Ink's lyrical content is just too hollow to really impress. At times he shows promise, and if his intent was more like it is on 'Show Must Go On' and 'Blunted', and less like 'POV' and 'About Mine', he might impress me more. Things as they stand though, too much of 'Full Speed' sounds immature, and no matter how consistently the kicks and snares pound, this album doesn't leave any notable lasting impression, and that's a bit of a problem.
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