Before he started covering his body with tattoos, Bryan Collins (aka Kid Ink) used to draw his own temporary tattoos with a pen. He was inspired by the tattoos on basketball star Allen Iverson and Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker.
“I knew I was going to completely fill my body,” Kid Ink said during a phone interview. “In my mind I knew everything I was going to get, it was just a matter of getting the time and money to get it done. I worked in a tattoo shop to get free tats. I was so into the culture, it just made sense as a name.”
Kid Ink has been leaving a mark across social media in recent years. His videos on YouTube have more than 25 million views, including nearly 6 million for “I Just Want It All.” He’s got hundreds of thousands of fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter, and he has done it all, by self-releasing his music and with minimal radio play.
He didn’t even set out to be a performer. Kid Ink got his start on the production side of things. He came up with more material than the rappers he was working with were recording.
“In the production game, sometimes things move a little slow. I had so many beats and hooks and verses that were stacking up,” Kid Ink said. “I learned to do it as a hobby, but the people around me kept pushing me to do more, which gave me confidence.”
Kid Ink released three albums free on the Web, “Crash Landing,” “Wheels Up” and “Daydreamer.” Next month he’ll release his first album that fans will have to pay for, “Up & Away.” Ink feels he’s built up enough good will with fans to stop giving away his music.
“I felt like it was time to take the next step,” Kid Ink said. “I did two mixtapes and one free album. I could try to stay at the same label and keep making mixtapes, or try to see what else I can do. I’ve been pressed by a lot of labels, but I’m still independent. I want to show the labels the response people have to ‘Up & Away.’”
In August and September Kid Ink is heading to Europe for shows in Germany, the UK, France and the Netherlands. While he’s out on the road Kid Ink has a tattoo artist who will travel to do new work on him. With new ink added regularly, his tapestry is always changing.
The most recent piece is a Los Angeles Raiders symbol (Kid Ink is from L.A., which is why it’s not the Oakland Raiders), but with an elephant in place of the raider.
Given his Los Angeles background, the theme makes sense. But why an elephant?
“I picked it to symbolize being the elephant in the room.”
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Val Air Ballroom, 301 Ashworth Road, West Des Moines
Cost: $20 in advance, $25 day of show
Info: Ticketmaster or valairballroom.com