Kid Ink may have suddenly rose to popularity with the 2012 catchy hit “Time of Your Life” but the California rapper has been at it longer than that. Releasing his first mixtape in 2010, Kid Ink, real name Brian Collins, gained a slew of fans with his laid-back style and blend of singing and rapping. Ink wasted no time in offering up tons of new music within the span of a few years; the Los Angeles native dropped several more solid mixtapes that helped him earn a following and a spot on XXL Magazine’s 2012 Freshman class roster. Following up last year’s Almost Home EP, Kid Ink is etching out his own lane with his second studio release, and first proper full-length, My Own Lane.

Opening up with the bouncy “Hello World,” Kid Ink is back where he belongs in Cali after touring overseas. The jubilant song with a contagious hook really sets the tone for the rest of the album. Already a master at creating club anthems, My Own Lane is full of high-energy and exuberance, even in slower-paced songs, with lots of catchy hooks to sing along too/get stuck in your head for days. The production also does the trick to grab you initially, while introspective lyrics add more depth to the entire project. Kid Ink is boastful more often than not, but he also shows us a deeper and more reflective side in certain cuts off My Own Lane.

For example, “No Miracles” featuring Elle Varner (who’s never sounded better) and Machine Gun Kelly, Kid Ink turns inspirational as he documents in his struggles in the industry:

“I ain’t afraid, knowing shit’s gotta changes/ One day it’ll never be the same/ Just look into my heart you can see the grind/ Look into my eyes you can see the pain/ Painted a perfect picture where I came from/ Some nights when I thought I wouldn’t see the sun/ Son raised, though daddy wasn’t home, word/ Hard trying to hold it down like a short skirt”

With the support of a major label, Ink affords bigger names for his well-placed guest spots. Ink has a mix of well-known rappers you might expect and new faces. Pusha T, Meek Mill, Wale and French Montana bring the star power but Kid Ink also recruits lesser-known artists to share the spotlight with him. Mid-album things slow down for several tracks, including the motivational “I Don’t Care” with Maejor AliAugust Alsina joins in on another slow but sexy record “We Just Came To Party.” King Los and Kid Ink trade bars faster than a speeding bullet in the climactic “No Option.”

It’s easy to mistake Kid Ink with fellow tatted singer and Cali native Chris Brown, and the two collaborate on the club-friendly “Show Me,” one of two Breezy collaborations on My Own Lane. “Show Me” serves as the first single and has been getting heavy-rotation on the radio, but “Main Chick” deserves a look as well, although it follows a similar formula. Both contain a mixture of percussions and claps, a signature sound by DJ Mustard who produced them both. 

Perhaps the best track on My Own Lane is the more experimental “More Than A King.” With a shifting instrumental, Kid Ink proves that he’s more than the average rapper:

"So I just sit back and laugh at em/ Blowin kush and success my bad habit/ Scarifices of mine, take a stab at em/ Feeling ain’t no man like me since Adam/ Ask me these actors is half-assin/ I’m a active addict but I action/ Racks in, racks out, girl keep flashin/ Fact is I live the life that you niggas fathom"

The stellar production on My Own Lane can be attributed to the likes of DJ Mustard, The Futuristics, Cardiak, Larrance Dopson of 1500 or Nothin and others, Kid Ink follows a well-created formula for a light, airy and at times poppy album that still has L.A. hip-hop influences, offering a little something for everybody-- although the devout hip-hop head may have qualms.

After listening to the album, you can see why it’s difficult to label Kid Ink as one type of rapper or another. With effortless lyrics that pours over the beat like molasses, you may want to call it cloud rap. With plenty of weed talk, you may refer to him as a weed rapper. With poppy and catchy hooks, he may be headed in the direction of the pop star. Whatever the case may be, Ink manages to stay in the spotlight for the entire project, despite a slew of big features, proving that he really does have his own lane.