By Geoffrey Rowlands
Rapper Kodak Black has had more incarcerations than hit records. The Florida-born star enjoyed Christmas atop the Billboard 200 with his new album, Dying To Live. But, he might easily have spent the holiday season in jail. He was only freed from his latest prison sentence this past August.
It is beyond belief that any man who has the chart success of Kodak Black should continue to become involved in so much criminal activity. He did once offer the explanation that “there is just too much ‘hood in me.”
Born as Dieuson Octave to Haitian migrant parents, Kodak Black grew up in Pompano Beach’s Golden Acres Development, a grandiose name for an area which was once described by a defence attorney as “akin to living in hell.”
Violence and drugs were part of Dieuson’s life from an early age. His father, who has several children by other women, was never around. He had no positive male role model.
He began rapping while in elementary school. What role models he had were the older boys who rapped. They invited young Dieuson, by now calling himself Black, to the local trap house. Along with all the drug production and sales, the trap house had a microphone and computer which rappers could use to record their material.
He was also at the beginning of his arrest record. He admits to having been in brawls virtually every day and joined friends on breaking and entering expeditions. During one year, he was placed into youth detention on three separate occasions. He got into so much trouble at school that there was a time when no local school would accept him as a pupil.
It was music which provided his salvation. Now 21, he was 12 when he joined a rap crew called Brutal Youngnz under the name of J-Black. He moved on to another rap group, The Kolyons, before adopting Kodak Black as his stage name, going solo and releasing his debut mixtape, Project Baby, in December, 2013.
The following December saw him release a second mixtape, Heart of the Projects, while his third mixtape, Institution, was issued in December, 2015.
Despite these mixtapes achieving no chart success, Kodak Black was attracting interest from major labels. He signed a deal with Atlantic Records. It came not a moment too soon. Facing a possible lengthy prison sentence for yet another criminal offence, his fate was alleviated by way of a kind-hearted judge listening to the entreaty of an Atlantic executive who said Kodak Black had a bright future in the music business.
His breakthrough came in March, 2017. The track, Tunnel Vision, became his first big hit single. It peaked at number six on Billboard’s Hot 100 and laid the groundwork for his debut album, Painting Pictures. This hit number three on the Billboard 200 and number two on the Top R&B / Hip Hop Albums chart.
“I wasn’t surprised,” he remarked. “My mother always said I was the chosen one. I just kept grinding. I was always going to be rich. I knew my music would get me to where I am today.”
Later in 2017, another mixtape, Project Baby 2, confirmed Kodak Black’s ever increasing popularity. It reached number two on the Billboard 200 and became his first number one on both the Top R&B / Hip Hop Albums and Top Rap Albums charts. Sales might have been even better had he been able to properly promote the mixtape. At the time, he was under house arrest.
It was during his most recent spell in jail that he decided to legally change his name. Rather than Dieuson Octave, his real name is now Bill K. Kapri. The name change was part of a good day. He had been arrested on charges of child neglect, possession of marijuana, grand theft of a firearm and two counts of possession of a weapon by a felon. Three of these charges were dismissed.
“I regarded changing my name as representing a fresh start for me. I wanted to take things day by day and improve my life.”
While in prison, he had released another mixtape, Heart Break Kodak, which featured him singing as well as rapping. This did not fare quite so well reaching number 25 on the Billboard 200. But this blip in his career progression was attributed to lack of promotion for the mixtape.
This conclusion was confirmed by the response to Dying To Live. The single, Zeze, hit number two on Billboard’s Hot 100 and topped the Canadian chart prior to the album being released. Dying To Live then shot straight to pole position on the Billboard 200, Top R&B / Hip Hop Albums and Top Rap Albums charts.
It remains to be seen if this chart success, coupled with his stated desire to make a fresh start in his life, will keep Kodak Black on the right side of the law.
Similar thoughts were expressed more than three years ago on If You Ain’t Ridin’, a track from his Institution mixtape. Part of the lyric was I ain’t goin’ back to jail, no more thuggin, I swear. He has seen the world from behind bars on all too many days since then. Let us hope it will be a different story in the future.
It is highly unusual for any scientific project to have a theme song. But a track written by Queen guitarist Brian May and legendary lyricist Don Black accompanied the flyby mission of the Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule by Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft.
Brian is an astrophysicist in his own right and a member of the New Horizons team. Principal project investigator Alan Stern obviously saw Brian’s dual capabilities as providing the opportunity to create something unique in the scientific community.
“Alan asked me to write a song for the mission,” Brian explained. “I had some reservations about accepting the request because I couldn’t think of anything which rhymes with Ultima Thule. But as I considered the overall goal of the mission, I realised rather than trying to focus on any specifics, I should try to incorporate the spirit of exploration.
“That’s when I began to hear the music in my head of an object plummeting through space faster than anything before. I asked Don Black for help with the lyrics and he came up with a couple of verses, which really inspired me into action.
“I think we’ve come up with a song which is an anthem to human endeavour. The entire mission is about human curiosity. We’re exploring the building blocks of planets and the solar system’s earliest history. There is nothing more exciting in the world of exploration than going to a place about which you know nothing. The human race explores because it needs to know. The sky’s the limit for what we could discover.”
The song, titled New Horizons, is Brian’s first solo single since Why Don’t We Try Again, a track from his 1998 album, Another World. It is accompanied by a video, which can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3Jm5POCAj8 A slightly different remix of the track is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntLWaioEnwo
Daryl Dragon — The Captain & Tennille
The first few days of 2019 brought sad news with the death of pianist and songwriter Daryl Dragon, better known as the Captain half of American pop duo The Captain & Tennille.
Daryl and his wife, Toni Tennille, recorded a string of smash hit singles and albums during the second half of the 1970s. They topped Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart with five songs and the Hot 100 with two.
Their number ones were Love Will Keep Us Together in 1975 and Do That To Me One More Time in 1979. Some of their other hugely popular songs were The Way I Want To Touch You, Lonely Night (Angel Face), Shop Around and the oh so cute Muskrat Love. Official videos, audio postings and live performances for all of these songs can be found on YouTube.
The couple met in 1972. Toni had co-written an ecology themed musical, Mother Earth. She needed a keyboardist for performances in Southern California. Daryl was between tours with The Beach Boys and landed the gig. He later recommended Toni to The Beach Boys when they required an extra touring keyboard player and she became known as the one and only Beach Girl.
They began their working relationship after The Beach Boys tour and married in November, 1975. Although the turn of the 1980s saw The Captain & Tennille fall out of the spotlight, they kept performing for many years. Toni also had a solo career both as a singer and an actress in stage musicals.
Perhaps their worse career move was giving up their Captain & Tennille music and comedy television show after just one solidly successful series. Such shows extended and enhanced the popularity of many mainstream entertainers during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.
Daryl and Toni remained married for nearly 39 years. His health issues apparently led to Toni filing for divorce. However, they remained friends until Daryl passed away from complications of renal failure. Toni was at his bedside when he died.
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