Project Baby 2: All Grown Up (Deluxe)

Project Baby 2: All Grown Up (Deluxe)

By the time Kodak Black released Project Baby 2: All Grown Up (Deluxe) in 2017, his status in the music industry had been codified with plaques and data: It was his second record of that year to debut in Billboard’s top three, and three of its singles were quickly certified Platinum by the RIAA. But those sorts of accolades only scratch the surface of Kodak’s creative undertaking, which aims to tie together dangling threads of narrative and style, following them so deep into the rapper’s psyche that it seems as if the listener might never escape. Though Kodak—still only 20 at the time of this tape’s release—had already graduated from regional hero to genre-warping force, Project Baby 2: All Grown Up (Deluxe) finds him refusing to sand down the eccentric edges from his musical approach, or the rougher ones from his personality. When he raps on “Unexplainable” that “I’m rich, but I’m riding through the projects,” it sounds at first like a figurative declaration about Kodak sticking to his principles, remembering the people and places who helped mold him. But with his next breath, he clarifies this as a chillingly specific scene: “I wasn’t even supposed to be here—I’m on house arrest.” Here as ever, Kodak is concerned with the complex, jagged emotional contours of situations, and will happily slip in and out of linear narrative structures in order to trace them. And still, there are points where the proper nouns come flooding in: names of friends who were wronged or wronged him, the cross streets that served as the scenes of betrayal. In addition to indulging this deeply personal bent, Project Baby 2: All Grown Up (Deluxe) shows off Kodak’s burgeoning knack for collaboration. On “Built My Legacy,” he allows Offset from Migos to play the tightly wound technician to his looser, more impulsive artiste; on the buoyant “Codeine Dreaming,” Kodak instead ensures he and Lil Wayne are pointed in the same direction, each rapper urging the other into ever more frantic territory.

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