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Arts and Entertainment

On the record with Kid Ink
Rapper talks tattoos, girls and becoming a legend
Published Thursday, April 24, 2014
by Michaela L. Duckett

Kid Ink’s stage name was inspired by his passion for tattoo art culture. He’s covered in ink and says his most meaningful tattoos are the portraits on his chest of his mother and grandfather. The rest, he says, are just art.

Brian Collins has so many tattoos on his body that he’s lost count. So it’s no surprise that the West Coast rapper’s stage name, “Kid Ink,” is inspired by his passion for body art.

In just two years, Collins (who used to go by the name Rockstar) has gone from being a relatively unknown independent rapper from Los Angeles to a platinum-selling artist. His hit “Show Me” featuring Chris Brown quickly climbed Billboard’s Top 10 list and is on radio in heavy rotation. And from the looks of it, his latest single, “Main Chick,” is on track to have the same success.

Kid Ink’s “My Own Lane” tour recently stopped in the Queen City. He played the Filmore April 16. Prior to taking the stage for a high-energy performance, Ink sat down with The Post to discuss his music, his fans and, of course, his tattoos. Here’s are excerpts from that conversation:

On changing his name to Kid Ink:

“It was me feeling like the name itself was becoming played out… I wanted to kind of separate myself, get on another business level and figure out how I could brand myself and let people know who I am.

Now, when they Google my name there’s not a lot of confusion between me and a lot of other rock star artists, video games and energy drinks… I wanted a name that didn’t feel as gimmicky but still represented a subject matter that reflected my lifestyle – “Kid Ink.” Tattoos [were] something I got into before music.”

On being covered in ink:

“I have too many tattoos [to count]. I’m covered as far as from the waistline up to my skull. I have something on the side of my head and knees down on both my legs… I’m trying to color in my coloring book.”

On getting his first tattoo at 16:

“My first tattoo was the black outline with the stars and a flame. It’s more just a vibe tattoo. It was just a good feeling, some art I drew up that represented me being out of this world. For me, I just wanted the biggest tattoo in the school. I got it [on my forearm] where everybody could see it.”

On what he would do if he wasn’t rapping:

“I’d probably be tattooing. I was already working in tattoo shops early on before I started doing music. I was doing it to get experience and learn how to do it myself. I was just curious. From there, I grew in love and respect for that whole culture. So I would probably be a tattoo artist.”

On the wild antics of female fans:

“I think the number one thing they will do to get my attention when I’m performing is the Mardi Gras flashing thing. That’s like the thing to expect, but the craziest thing is people asking me to sign crazy parts of their bodies during shows.

I think my fans have a lot of respect for me and my girl. They don’t do too many outlandish things, but you definitely run across those crazy fans. I think the craziest ones are the ones that are just willing to leave and just hop on your tour bus and be gone for the rest of their lives without even knowing you. I could be a serial killer. You don’t really know me to feel like you can just hop on the bus and just chill.”

On the message for his fans:

“The whole thing with our Alumni Music Group is promoting the lifestyle of having a do-it-yourself mentality. We want to be the alumni to those people who want to do it themselves and just show and prove what you can do if you just work at it and build a good time.”

On career aspirations:

“I want to be a legendary musician. I have musical goals [like] getting the awards – the Grammy’s, the BETs and MTVs – but I want to be more so a musician and not just a selling artist. I want to have respect as an overall musician who inspires people.”

On the pursuit of goals and dreams:

“You have to really stay consistent and have patience. Treat what you want to do like a 9 to 5. [Being an artist], even though it might seem easier than a regular job, it does get to a point where it gets just as hard. It’s not an easy job.

You have to be patient, stay humble and just keep working at it. I think what happens to a lot of people is they give up when they are almost there. They probably just needed a couple of days, and they didn’t even know.”


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