Hear Me Out: Kid Ink Describes His “Young LeBron” Mentality

Kid Ink has always been enamored with LeBron James. LeBron’s brute nature, combined with his feline quickness, makes him one of the most gifted players to ever grace the hardwood. In addition, LeBron’s ability to wow and entertain has always been something to marvel at. Hence, this was where Kid Ink’s adoration for LeBron began.

Like LeBron, there’s little trepidation in Kid Ink’s game. The man believes in his talent. With his RCA debut, In My Own Lane, he drove past his competition with hits like “Show Me” and “Main Chick.” Now for his second project, Full Speed, in stores now, he’s hoping to deliver something special to not only the music game but for his hometown back on the West Coast.

So far, he hasn’t disappointed.

He had the radio in love with his first single “Body Language” with Usher and the vivacious newcomer Tinashe. Then he decided to just drop the hammer on everyone and unleash a barrage of singles like “Hotel” with Chris Brown and “Be Real,” featuring Dej Loaf. If there’s one thing that Kid Ink does best, it’s make bangers.

He sat down with Champs Sports to talk about why he still considers himself “Young LeBron,” his love and hate relationship with Kobe, his favorite sneakers, and the release of the “Ocean’s 15” Timberlands.

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Last time I checked, I recalled you being a huge Kobe hater. So with everything going on in Laker land, I’m sure you gotta be with happy right about now.
Kid Ink: I mean, I can’t say happy because that would just seem like I’m a mean terrible person. (Laughs) But, you know what I’m saying, I’m definitely not sad. I’m not as disappointed as everybody else is. The Clippers are playing amazing right now. I’m loving it. I’m having a good time.

When we first spoke, I remember you dubbed yourself as the “Young LeBron” back in 2013. Now, in 2015 do you still want to hold that comparison, or do you feel like you’ve upgraded with the success of your last album, In My Own Lane?
KI: Nah, I mean, that’s still my favorite player. I think at the same time, he went back home. I feel like that’s definitely my situation right now too. I think I’m coming back and taking more control of just my hometown and doing more stuff there than anything right now. That’s really where I’ve been just getting my backing from. I definitely feel the same way as then, man. Hopefully, I can just bring the hometown a championship. You dig?

With us being in the All-Star spirit, if you can name your all-time starting five, who would you choose?
KI: Kid Ink’s starting five? That’s a good one. All the All-Stars, huh? (Laughs) This reminds me of when I played NBA Street and all those video games with putting all these players together. I would probably have, for sure, Jordan on my team. Of course Mike.

Why Mike?
KI: I feel like Mike held the team in control. Like, he’s still to this day the best player to control an entire team. I feel like his team play was as good as him – or even more so than him – wanting to be that dude. But, I feel same way about LeBron. I feel like they have the same team spirit. Then, I gotta have a shooter. Who’s gonna be my three-point shooter? I’d probably have Ray Allen as my three-point shooter. My point would have to be CP3. Then, who’s my center right now? Ooh. That’s good one. It depends because if I take old Lakers Shaq – even though I hated the Lakers – and put him on the team for the inside and not for the free throws, we’ll be alright. We just gotta avoid the Hack-A-Shaq. (Laughs)

That’s a pretty killer starting five. Going back to your Clippers, how far do you think they can go this year? You have teams like the Warriors and Rockets out here playing hard this year.
KI: They’re playing great ball, man. I think what’s going on is that they’ll have good games where they’re 40 points up. But, with me, those slip-ups I still see them. Like there’s too many lobs and some of them don’t go in. You can’t do that in the playoffs. That’s not gonna fly. There’s certain things that’s not gonna fly as far as just a couple of turnovers and slip-ups from them having fun. I think there‚Äôs gonna have to be a little bit more seriousness in the games sometimes because you can just mess around and everything could turn around. But, we’ll see how far we’ll go. I’m rooting for the top, of course, at the end of the day. But, if we get to the second round, I’ll still feel good for next year. I think Doc got some stuff in play. We’ll see what happens.

Let’s switch things up and create your own dunk contest. Who would you select to take part?
KI: Ooh. Dunk contest? I feel like there was a time where everybody in their primes should have been in the dunk contest. For that, I gotta give it to Kobe for doing it once. My man LeBron never did it.

Why do you think he never did it? Do you think he was scared?
KI: Ahh, I don’t know. I mean, he used to do it in practice. I feel like it would be so simple for him. That guy is just a monster with just his height. He can jump. I don’t know if they just didn’t want him to get injured or what the case may be. Maybe the team was like, “Nah, nah.” I don’t know. I feel like that should be have been done, especially with how the past couple of years haven’t had that much hype. Who else?

Kid Ink
Courtesy Estevan Oriol/ RCA Records

How about Vince Carter?
KI: Oh, Vince for sure. He’s proven that he was that guy. Who else was crazy in their prime that should have been in it? Dwyane Wade could get up there back in the day.

Blake was crazy.
KI: Yeah, he did the car thing. That was crazy. I feel like some of these people can really, really get it in and do some more stuff than what they could be doing.

I know you spoke about All-Star Weekend lacking in certain areas. What do you think it needs to get back to how it used to be?
KI: It needs to be taken more serious. I guess, back in the day, these dudes used to wanna go home with these awards and really appreciated it more than what it is now. Maybe it’s the dunk contest and stuff. I know I still respect those three-point shooters at the end of the day. It’s crazy how you see those dunk contests and they be failing and nobody cares. I feel like the hype is more than what it’s supposed to be. You got all the rappers in the front and everything like that. It seems more like a scene than it is about the sport at that point. You know?

I love asking rappers this question, but if you had to choose your top three favorite movies of all time and why, which ones would you choose?
KI: Ooh. That’s good too. Probably Friday Night Lights. That was my top football movie. That made me wanna play football when I was in school. I just liked that vibe and that energy. It was dope. It just looked mad fun. It’s between Friday Night Lights and Any Given Sunday. Those are definitely the two top football movies. Basketball? It’s hard to pick, man. I gotta pick two. I mean, White Men Can’t Jump is classic. Then, He Got Game, you got Jesus. I’m also an Above the Rim, Sunset Park kind of guy. Those were throwbacks. I wasn’t into Love & Basketball. I didn’t go that far. (Laughs)

I know you’re big in the sneakers department. If you could pick your top five favorite kicks of all time, which ones would you choose?
KI: Top-five favorite basketball sneakers of alltime? Jordan XI. I say the Space Jam XI, the Infrared VI, the South Beach LeBron 9, and the South Beach LeBron X too. [Eds. Note: The “South Beach” LeBron X was a NIKEiD creation.] I also like the Galaxy Rookies. They’re one of my favorite shoes. Those are something that I never wear or pull out the box. Then, maybe one of my Barkleys. I got like all of the Barkleys. I’m just trying to think what my favorite color would be. I got all the colorways.

How many kicks do you have? The closet filled?
KI: Oh the closet is definitely filled up. (Laughs) I definitely gotta get a second room at this point. Stuff is hard to reach at up the top.

We gotta do an MTV Kicks version for you.
KI: We might. I’m trying to catch up to my big bro DJ Skee. He’s the man out in these streets.

I know you got the “Ocean’s 15” Timberlands, right?
KI: Yeah, yeah. We got the Ocean’s 15s the other day. We did the photoshoot and we got the collab that’s going with my Full Speed album. So everybody that pre-orders a pair – we’re already over 300 pre-orders – they receive a free copy.

Did you have input on how the Timberlands were gonna look?
KI: Nah, man. I didn’t actually. The first time I met them was when they gave me their first pair with like the red tops and they said they were gonna keep doing collabs. I wasn’t even a part of it because I didn’t know until they came with the shoe. I was scared like, “I wonder what they’re gonna look like. I don’t know if I want to take a photoshoot with this shoe. I kind of trust y’all, but y’all ain’t even give me the color.” They were like, “It’s blue.” I was like, “Well, I don’t really rock all-blue too much. What kind of blue?” They couldn’t really explain it. But when I saw it, I was like, “Yo. These are crazy. They’re def gonna hit for sure.” I told them they looked like the Carolina Jordan Blue.

Because you managed to do well with In My Own Lane, going into your sophomore project with RCA, did you feel pressure in regards to trying to top your last effort with your new album?
KI: Not really. I didn’t feel too much crazy pressure. I think with what it was I felt less pressure. I felt like with the first album I was trying to prove who I was. With this album, I was able to have a little bit more fun because they had more confidence with the direction that I was going in with knocking it out.

Follow Carl on Twitter at @TheRealCL24