Kodak Black is restless. It’s a late spring afternoon in New York City and while the bullying sun rays beam through and across Midtown’s busy parameters, 18-year-old Dieuson Octave is installed opposite a dinner menu inside local Haitian eatery, Le Soleil Restaurant.
“I’m not hungry,” he croaks, while said sun rays bounce off his gold-plated dental job and eye-widening jewelry. Visibly tired, we learn the rapper had just woken up from a quick cat nap prior to stepping foot in the restaurant. Of course, this is no surprise. At the tender age of 18, Kodak Black has seen it all and, for what might attribute to his lack of sleep, also been through it all. Just a couple days prior to this sit-down, he was arrested after a reported car chase in South Florida. He later posted bail, which was set at a reported sum of $5,000, and quickly jumped from the cell to the airport for a scheduled performance in Alabama. The rapper is currently on the road, as part of his ongoing “Going Up Top” tour. Soon after the mentioned show, he traveled over 800 miles to the Big Apple, where meetings were to be had (he signed to Atlantic Records in 2015) and introductions were to be made — all while fighting fatigue.
Raised in the rugged turf of Golden Acres, a public housing project in Pompano Beach that houses over 820 residents and the very place a Legal Aid attorney likened the living conditions to “living in hell,” Kodak experienced a life of someone twice his age. So as is the case with most artists hailing from a mostly impoverished neighborhood, he reflects much of this subject matter through the music. All of this attributes to messages rhymed on songs like “Gospel,” in which he raps “I ain’t been getting no sleep / My family depending on me.”
On the topic of his past, Kodak doesn’t elaborate on the details and/or specifics. But when asked about his brushes with the law, he speaks very candidly, especially one incident which wound up changing his life forever. “I went to trial one time and somebody really pointed me out [as a suspect] but I still won,” he recalls. “I knew [from there] that it was a wake up call like ‘Oh that means something.’ That ain’t something I should’ve overlooked.” This said “wake up call” that he mentions was a sign for him to take his then playful pursuits at rap seriously. “I ain’t have no other choice but to take music seriously [and] do something productive.”
Within the last year, the man who is commonly referred to as “Project Baby,” a term reflecting a symbol of hope from all those planning to make it out of their societal trap, Kodak has since turned that wake up call into a fast lane toward success. Growling street sweepers like “No Flockin’” from 2014’s Heart of the Projects and “Skrt” have provided him the boost to take him out of Broward County and into cities across the map through airwaves and tour dates.
With so much in store for 2016, including not one but two new projects, Kodak is looking to make his moment seen, heard, and felt.
“I see they like my name,” he says while a grin stretches from cheek to cheek. “I’m finna make history with my name.”
Rise and shine.