Kid Ink at Howard Theatre


Los Angeles rapper Kid Ink performs at the recently re-opened Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. Kid Ink was recently featured as one of XXL Magazine's "Freshmen Class" for 2012. (Kyle Gustafson/For The Washington Post)

Rappers who enjoy smoking pot so much that the activity permeates their every rhyme are often called “weed rappers.” MCs who don’t just frequent gentlemen’s clubs but rap about them and make music with exotic dancers in mind are commonly referred to as “strip club rappers.” Does that mean that rappers who are covered in tattoos and constantly shout-out their favorite artists, shops and pieces on tracks should be dubbed “tatt rappers?”

If so, Kid Ink would probably be considered a tatt rapper. The L.A. artist is covered in tattoos and has recorded two anthems about body art — “Tat It Up” and the more site-specific ode, “Tats on My Face.” At the Howard Theatre on Sunday night, the up-and-comer not only rhymed about his ink but showed it off at every given opportunity.

“This ain’t a art gallery — why everybody starin’?” he rapped during “Blowin’ Swishers,” while pulling up his tank top to give the crowd a better look at the images etched onto his body, including his mother’s face, an alien from the video game Space Invaders and an intricate full-torso piece depicting the Los Angeles skyline on fire.

Contrary to a pervasive Internet rumor, Ink is not a cousin of Chris Brown, but he does look like the R&B singer — that, along with a Wiz Khalifian obsession with getting high, a passionate commitment to body modification and a languorous THC-affected delivery, has nabbed him a loyal fan base of 18- to-24-year-olds.

A small but enthusiastic crowd rapped along with him during “No Sticks, No Seeds,” from his “Wheels Up” mix tape, as well as “Blackout” and “Stank in my Blunt.” The mix-tape phenom also plugged his first album, “Up and Away,” set to drop this summer, and previewed its first single, “Time of Your Life.”

And before leaving the stage, Kid Ink gave the crowd one last dose of ink — he took the time to sign every single ball cap, sneaker, cellphone, dollar bill and scrap of paper that fans thrust at him.

Godfrey is a freelance writer.

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