No rappers faced as much trouble as Kodak Black over the past few years. Since emerging onto the scene in 2014, the Florida native has had various run-ins with the law but none worse than his most recent offense as he’s now facing his largest sentence ever of 46-months. Being locked up for so long, it’s been hard for the 23-year-old to release new music, but after two years of waiting, he has given us a new project titled Bill Israel. With a chance at putting himself back in the limelight, will Kodak Black be able to satisfy his slowly crumbling fanbase?
Despite being made up of cuts recorded between jail sentences, Kodak’s performance feels pretty concise. Similar to his last album, Dying to Live, a handful of songs have a surprising amount of depth to them. From talking about his regrets on “Remember The Times” to dissing law enforcement on “Serene”, it’s refreshing to hear someone in trap bring up potent thinking pieces. Complementing his songwriting, the swagger on cuts like “I Wanna Live” and “Dummy Green” shows Kodak’s vocals in one of his most engaging states ever. Just as all Kodak albums, theirs still light-hearted bangers like “Pimpin Ain’t Eazy” and “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe”, which thrive on their braggadocios showmanship. “I Wanna Live” was a definite standout as Kodak gives a heart to heart about his aspirations as a man and role model. On the other side of the spectrum, “The Fire” is the definition of mediocrity as Black slurs himself with cheap autotune for a disastrously gross two minutes and 39 seconds. Fortunately, this is one of the few unbearable moments on the entire LP, and it’s soon forgotten as it’s followed by the confidence-building “Feeling Myself Today” and the inspirational “I Knew It” which features Gucci Mane and life long friend CBE. On the subject of collaborations, the few on the project are pretty great as on one side we see Kodak and Lil Yachty turn up on “Make a Hit”, and on the other hand, he teams up with Jackboy and the king of controversy, Torey Lanez for the hard-hitting “Spain”. As he perfectly builds upon the ideas and concepts shown on his last album, it’s hard to scrutinize Kodak Black for what’s given.
Although I commend the production team for putting together a coherent vision with Kodak’s only input being through the phone, the instrumentals on this record can be lacking at times. There’s nothing truly terrible, but songs like “Remember The Times”, “Spain”, and “Pimpin Aint Eazy” rely on the same formula nearly every other mainstream artist has been using. While some songs feel like something i’ve heard 100 times, “Wanna Live” and “The Fire” are some standouts that do a great job at creating sounds that are polished and intuitive. “I Knew It” even gets emotional as its mellow piano mixes with a pain-filled vocal sample for an instrumental that forces you to empathize with Kodak’s situation. The sonic peak is undoubtedly “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe”, as its electrifying synths play throughout the entire song, making for one of the year’s best trap beats. Other moments like “Serene” and “Dummy Green” are notable as well with their intoxicating atmospheres. Outside of a few lackluster tracks, the production on Kodak Black’s newest album is above the industry’s current status quo.
Walking away from Bill Israel, I’m more than delighted with the experience we got. Even with improbable odds, Kodak and his team put together a full fledged record that feels complete top to bottom. While coming with its flaws, the album still amongst the top of Black’s discography. Going forward, I don’t know if Kodak Black will produce another album during his jail sentence, but for the time being, he will remain in the spotlight.
- Kodak’s performance emotional/heartfelt
- Fairly consistent
- Little to no filler
- Solid Features
- Good blend of deep cuts/bangers
- Similar to his last album
- Nothing too special
Written By: Marc Dator
Scored and edited by: Marc Dator, owner and founder of Fantastic Hip Hop