‘Tuned In’ review: Kid Ink reaches cruising speed in ‘My Own Lane’

Kid Ink

Kid Ink

'My Own Lane' by Kid Ink

"My Own Lane" by Kid Ink

In his noble effort to produce a subdued and distinct modern-day release, 27-year-old Kid Ink conjures an unwelcome air of ambivalence that blurs his focus and dulls his impact on “My Own Lane.”

The Los Angeles rapper is inescapably derivative, though he finesses his sound with admirable signatures. The textured layers are deceptively low-key, almost suggesting minimalism, and the pace is swaggering and deliberate, indicating a confident sincerity, albeit an indifference to an audience’s need for stimulation.

For instance, “We Just Came to Party” is more of a slow-motion celebration than a proper club banger, and his sly suggestion of a threesome (on “Iz U Down,” featuring Tyga) comes with an aural shrug.

Despite the overriding trademarks, “My Own Lane” has an impressive sonic range: Stress track “The Movement” conjures the 1970s with its Earth Wind and Fire sample (and a hint of Amii Stewart’s dance classic “Knock on Wood”), while “No Option” is steeped in woozy dancehall resonance.

Then there are blatant bids to fit in with to the contemporary realm – and what better way than with Chris Brown as a guest vocalist on the romance of “Show Me”? Plus there’s romance of an offbeat kind in “Tattoo of My Name,” featuring lines like, “It’s just a different kind of trust when I see you’ve got a tattoo of my name on you.” (A sentiment sure to elicit both laughter and wincing.)

For his part, Kid Ink employs his average voice with an impressive and often charming flow, not overly braggadocious, which brings charisma to the likes of the distorted drama “Murda” featuring Pusha T.

Yet ultimately Kid Ink is just puttering along in “My Own Lane,” and the ongoing addled delivery takes its toll, eventually becoming counterproductive and even defiant, neglecting a listener’s basic need for energy.

Surely Kid Ink’s intention wasn’t to numb his audience to distraction. More likely, his vision just isn’t fully realized.

At least not yet.

Rating: 3.5 stars (out of five)

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