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Kodak Black's Highs and Lows of 2017

Kodak Black's debut album, Painting Pictures, came out earlier this year.
Kodak Black's debut album, Painting Pictures, came out earlier this year.
Courtesy of Atlantic Records

Kodak Black’s life is one built on contrasting extremes: the destitution of his upbringing versus the riches of his adult life, raw skill dueling with violent tendencies. Under the sweltering sun of Broward County, it’s rare to find someone whose existence runs so hot and cold it would make Katy Perry’s head spin. In the months since New Times delivered its explosive cover story about this most divisive member of South Florida’s rising rap scene, much has gone on in the world of Kodak — so much that it warrants a followup to recap it.

Ahead of his August 10 show at University of Miami’s Watsco Center, here are the highs and lows of Kodak Black’s year so far.

High: Early release from jail. After being found guilty of five counts of house arrest violation, Kodak left Broward County Jail June 5. He served just 97 days of his 364-day sentence thanks to his completion of a life-skills course that included instruction in financial management, self-control, and avoidance of domestic violence. Of course, he's only partially free: Having returned to house arrest in his Miramar pad, he must get permission from a probation officer to travel for work within and across state lines.

Low: The video featuring the "Cash Me Ousside" girl. This low is less about Kodak than it is about one of the most tragic hangers-on of 2017, Boynton Beach’s Danielle “Cash Me Ousside” Bregoli. This past February 9, WorldStarHipHop posted a video for Kodak’s song “Everything 1K” featuring Bregoli, whose fame derives from being rude on Dr. Phil and not much else, crawling on and inside a Rolls-Royce. The video was later revealed to be unofficial, a scheme cooked up by Bregoli and her handlers. And that might have been the end of it if the internet hadn’t spread the heinous rumor that Bregoli, who was 13 when the video was posted, had sex with the then-19-year-old rapper. How shameless and tawdry can you get?

High: The success of "Tunnel Vision." Peaking at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 after entering at 27, “Tunnel Vision” is without question Kodak’s biggest hit, but regardless of its success, it’s still an excellent track. Over a moody, flute-inflected beat by atmospheric Atlanta producers Metro Boomin and Southside, the rapper expresses the difficulty of maintaining his success in the face of systemic opposition. The second verse, in particular, features a barrage of gangsta imagery — “Codeine in my liver, rock Balenciaga denim / I’m booted even when I’m sober, I don’t even need a jigga” — that would make for an incredible video. Speaking of which...

Low: The "Tunnel Vision" video. In general, a rap video usually isn’t the best place to look for subtle political commentary. But the video for “Tunnel Vision” deserves special mention for how ridiculous it is. In the main story, a visibly angry good ol' boy in a Confederate flag vest and MAGA hat drives to a farm and prepares to fire an assault rifle at a black man. When the gun jams, the farmhand rushes the shooter and they wrestle to the ground. Meanwhile, Kodak and his crew mob in front of a burning cross while a dummy in Klan robes hangs from a noose in the background.

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None of the scenes relate directly to anything in the song, so the video becomes a pointless manifestation of racial iconography. Frankly, the imagery offends less than the ham-fisted, inept execution of a story that fails to express any cogent opinion on its subject. Worst of all is how it ends: As the black man grabs an American flag and attempts to choke his assailant, a little white girl, previously unseen, yells, “Stop!” And they do. Just think: After centuries of racism, all we needed was this one child to end it all.

High: Fundraising for Pompano Beach schoolchildren. Judging by the animosity expressed in his song “SKRT” — “Fuck my school and fuck my teacher too” — we think Kodak didn’t have the best time in school. It seems, however, that the Blanche Ely High dropout wants to prevent others from having similar experiences, because he has teamed up with Master P to give back to his community. On August 14, the two will hand out school supplies to 1,300 underprivileged children in Kodak’s hometown of Pompano Beach. “Nobody’s perfect; I’m a work in progress myself,” Kodak said in a statement. “I got a second chance, and I want to help inner-city kids.”

High: VMA nomination. As New Times recently reported, Kodak earned an MTV Video Music Award nomination for Best New Artist. To win, he'll have to beat out the likes of Khalid, SZA, Young M.A, and Noah Cyrus — stiff competition for a decidedly uncommercial street rapper. Still, it's always fun to root for the underdog, especially when you think of the speech he might give. #FreeKodak!

Kodak Black. 7 p.m. Thursday, August 10, at the University of Miami Watsco Center, 1245 Dauer Dr., Coral Gables; 305-284-8244; watscocenter.com. Tickets cost $36.50 to $46.50 via ticketmaster.com.

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