The untold truth of Kodak Black
Kodak Black seemingly rose to fame overnight. Most people know him for his Billboard-charting hits like “ZEZE,” which features big-name artists Travis Scott and Offset, or the Bruno Mars and Gucci Mane-assisted “Wake Up in the Sky.” But the truth is, Kodak has been in the rap game for more than half of his life.
Starting in his pre-teen years, Kodak made music with a few of his friends. He became known for rapping his heart out in his music, attracting fans by the tens — and then hundreds and thousands — for his raw honesty and openness. And yet, there’s still so much people don’t know about the Dying to Live rap star. He apparently communicates with the dead, and did you know that he once challenged Lil Wayne to a fight? Let’s talk about that and more as we explore the untold truth of the Florida-bred artist known as Kodak Black.
Life in the Sunshine State wasn’t so bright
Kodak Black, who was born in Pompano Beach, Fla. to Haitian immigrants, knew what hard times were like early on. According to the Miami New Times, he grew up in a Section 8 housing complex called Golden Acres, which was once described by the Sun Sentinel as a “haven for crack cocaine, crime, and squalor.” As a result of that environment, Kodak got into serious trouble, landing himself in juvenile hall, and narrowly avoiding “a Punishable By Life charge,” according to Passion of the Weiss. But he knew where his out was.
“My dad wasn’t in my life, he couldn’t buy me sh**, he told The Fader. “My mom, her money going was straight to the bills. So I was like, f**k it, I got to get my own money,” he continued, referencing his plans to make it in the rap game.
But the road to hip hop stardom was rocky. According to the outlet, Kodak was arrested for carjacking in middle school and the arrests only snowballed from there. Kodak would later leave Pompano Beach for California, suggesting to The Breakfast Club (via Hip Hop Wired) that he did so because his hometown brings out the worst in him. “In Florida everywhere I go it’s people just like me… so if everybody packing [a gun] I’ma have to pack [a gun]. I’ma have to be on bulls**t too. But in California, nobody ain’t wit that,” he explained.
The name is Bill
Kodak Black was born Dieuson Octave, but that’s not his name as of the time of this writing. While serving time behind bars for probation violations in 2017, the “Tunnel Vision” rapper filed legal documents to change his name to “Bill Kahan Blanco,” according to Bossip. His request was granted in May 2018 by a Florida judge, per TMZ, with his lawyer telling the outlet that Kodak had simply wanted a “fresh start” and that the name change was his way of doing it. His name officially became Bill K. Kapri.
As for why he chose the name Bill? Well, that’s unclear. But it looks like it could have something to do with Kodak’s apparent love for the animated character Little Bill from the Nick Jr. series of the same name. Kodak has dubbed himself as such on various occasions, including in his lyrics and on social media, where, in 2015, he tweeted a photo of his face pasted onto Little Bill’s body.
No judgment here…
He was bad … but smart
Kodak Black might be known for his formidable rapping skills, but don’t reduce him to just that. He’s actually a dedicated academic, and he apparently always has been. “When I was in elementary school I used to go to this little camp. We used to do spelling bees and I used to beat high-schoolers,” he said in his 2017 Project Baby documentary, per High Snobiety. Kodak added, “I was bad but I was smart.” His book smarts apparently got him into a private school, but Kodak chose not to attend. He went on, “I would’ve been away from all that sh** [the lifestyle he adopted]. If I would’ve stayed in school I probably wouldn’t be who I am.”
He later dropped out of high school (via Miami New Times), but he earned his GED in 2018 while he was locked up (via Complex). “Momma I know I’m late but I got it,” he quipped in a since-deleted Instagram post.
Kodak Black first got into the rap game in elementary school, when he formed a crew, Brutal Youngnz, with his cousin and some friends. In an interview with Passion of the Weiss, the Institution rapper said he would go record music at a local studio and immediately knew he wanted to be like the men there. “Whatever they mottos is, that became my motto. I looked up to them. Whatever I see them do, I did, too,” he told the outlet.
Kodak would later split from the group and become a solo artist, attracting fans through music shared to his YouTube page and affiliation with popular local talents (via Miami New Times). By 2013, his debut mixtape Project Baby was out and the next year saw the release of Heart Of The Project, which featured his now-famous single “SKRT.” After rapper Drake shared a video of himself dancing to the track in 2015, Kodak’s career seemed to hit the stratosphere. He has downplayed the co-sign, though, telling The Fader, “Drake ain’t make me.”
He’s already had beef with a hip hop legend
Getty Images / YouTube
It’s true: Kodak Black and No Limit founder Master P (above left) have gone head-to-head. Initially, the pair appeared to be building a strong relationship, with P offering Kodak career moves and helping the young rapper recover from insensitive comments he made about dark-skinned women, but some time down the line, things went left. According to Kodak, the veteran rapper had requested payment for mentoring him, which rubbed him the wrong way. “I aint gon’ buy no game from no n***a,” he declared on an Instagram Live segment (via HotNewHipHop).
P, however, claimed otherwise. In a comment on Instagram, the “It Ain’t My Fault” rapper said he “never asked [Kodak] for a dime” and that he’d actually spent money from his own pocket. P said he was simply trying to help Kodak continue building his image but that Kodak’s lawyers stepped in the way to “keep him ignorant so that they can keep taking advantage of him.”
Kodak questioned those comments, asking on The Breakfast Club (via Complex), “How you gonna say, ‘okay it ain’t about no money,’ but then turn around and be on some money sh**?” P responded, stood by his comments, and basically told Kodak to respect his elders, “Look at the people who have been there before you. We really can help you,” he said.
He’s been arrested multiple times
For every project he’s released, Kodak Black appears to have had a coinciding arrest on every charge you can possibly think of, from probation violations to possession of marijuana. While many of those cases have been settled, there is at least one still open, at the time of this writing, and it’s a pretty alarming situation.
The alleged incident dates back to 2016, when Kodak allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in a hotel room after a club appearance. “[He] forced the victim onto the bed in the room and then onto the floor of the room,” a warrant obtained by the Sun Sentinel reads. The “victim repeatedly told the defendant no and to stop. The defendant did not stop.” The woman also reportedly accused Kodak of biting her “neck and chest,” injuries that were “confirmed” by a “sexual assault kit.”
For his part, the Project Baby rapper wrote of his April 2019 trial in a since-deleted Instagram post (via The Fader), “I look forward to clearing my name in the very near future.”
He inspired ‘Bodak Yellow’
Fans of Kodak Black’s heard a record scratch when Cardi B (above) dropped her 2017 breakout single “Bodak Yellow,” as she uses what appears to be the very same flow from Kodak’s breakout hit “No Flockin” (via Genius). With fans on her back demanding answers, Cardi eventually admitted that she did, indeed, borrow Kodak’s rap style for her platinum-selling single, saying during a concert (via HotNewHipHop), “So what? I’m [gonna] sound like all your favorite rappers … One day I’m [gonna] sound like Kodak, the next day I’m [gonna] sound like Meek Mill … I don’t give a f***.”
That only appeared to make things worse. Rapper Jackboy, who is an affiliate of Kodak, wrote on social media that Cardi “blowed [up]” from using the “SKRT” rapper’s flow and demanded that she pay a pretty explicit form of payment back to someone from Kodak’s hometown or home state to make up for it (via BET).
Kodak himself, however, didn’t seem to be all that upset. During an Instagram Live, he addressed the situation, saying (via VladTV), “I want Cardi B to make all the money. Soak all that s*** up, make all the money.”
XXXTentacion tells him stuff, or so he says
Kodak Black and XXXTentacion (above), who were both from South Florida, were somewhat familiar with each other. Before the “Moonlight” rapper was tragically killed in a botched robbery in June 2018, the pair had joined forces for the Billboard-charting hit “Roll in Peace” and shared XXL‘s 2016 Freshman Class cover. Though XXXTentacion’s life is no more, Kodak seemed to imply the late musician still communicates with him from the afterlife, according to a September 2018 tweet that read, “RIP XXX HE TALKS TO ME.”
Kodak went on to honor his fallen friend on his 2018 song, “Malcolm X.X.X.” According to XXL, the song “features Kodak speaking about XXX’s death, and comparing it to the late human rights activist el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz aka Malcolm X.”
“X was tryna buy a bike and he got gunned down,” Kodak raps, referencing X’s murder outside of a motorsports store. “X was tryna change his life, but he got burned down/X wasn’t ridin’ with no pipe so he got gunned down/Listen, do as I say, don’t do as I do/Nine out of ten, it ain’t gon’ end up lookin’ good for you.”
He’s with her
Politics isn’t really a topic you hear rappers talk about all that often, but Kodak Black doesn’t mind opening up about the subject when necessary. On Nov. 8, 2016, the day of the U.S. presidential election, Kodak Black’s producer Dubba-AA shared an audio message of the “Wake Up in the Sky” rapper, who was incarcerated at the time, announcing his preferred candidate for the White House. “Hello my fellow Americans,” Kodak started (via HipHopDX). “Make sure you go out there and vote ’cause every vote counts. Voting is a privilege. If I [wasn’t a felon and] was able to vote, I’d vote for Hillary. I believe she’ll do a great job with our country. I’m Kodak Black and I approved this message.”
Clinton would later lose the election, but Kodak took the loss in stride, suggesting that it was a blessing in disguise. He tweeted, I’m Glad Donald Trump Became The President Cause We Gotta Destroy Before We Elevate.”
Is he the best rapper alive?
Kodak Black has had his fair share of wild takes, like in December 2016 when he took to Twitter and rejected the popular idea of Lil Wayne being the best rapper alive, instead insisting that the title belongs to him. Kodak followed up challenging the hip hop veteran to a fight for the title, threatening to knock him out (via Billboard). “We finna get in the ring … And if he whoop me, he the best rapper alive, ya heard me?” he said on Instagram. At least he later apologized for that drama.
Perhaps Kodak’s most mind-boggling comment came that same year when he declared that he’s better than two rappers who are said to be the greatest of all time. In an interview with XXL, the Lil B.I.G. Pac rapper said, “I’m better than Tupac and Biggie. I say that so now you know where my head at.” We’ll see if he proves it.