West Coast rapper and producer Kid Ink headlined Ramapo’s spring concert Saturday night, filling the Bradley Center with loud club beats and bright lights, as he performed a 90-minute set featuring some of his most popular songs, including “Show Me” and “Promise.”
Ink’s concert opened with a nearly hour-long performance from Blind Eyez, a hip-hop artist and sophomore student at Ramapo. Blind Eyez, a music production major whose real name is Keivon Hemmings, was enthusiastic as he prepared to ascend the stage.
“It’s great, it’s definitely something I would never have saw myself doing five years ago. I’ve been a fan of Kid Ink for a long time. Really exciting. I’m honored Ramapo chose me to open for Kid Ink,” he said.
Wearing a snapback cap emblazoned with the logo of Kid Ink’s own clothing line, “Alumni,” Eyez spoke loudly, raising his voice above the din of the gym as he discussed his music.
“I just released my newest song, called ‘Zoned,’ I just released that, and it’s gonna be the last song I perform for the set. Definitely hear out for that, it’s gonna be a party,” he said, grinning with anticipation.
The rapper views his performance as a highlight of his still-burgeoning musical career: “This is definitely the biggest performance I’ve done thus far,” he said. “I’m expecting a thousand people in the audience, and you never know who’s out in the audience.”
Hemmings has been a longtime fan of Ink’s, adding a personal significance to his performance. “I was a fan of Kid Ink for six years now. His debut album came out, I got it and I listened to it: great stuff. He had no features on it, he just took it himself … I’m definitely a big fan.”
“I like his music style, and I think Ramapo needs someone with his style to bring that energy, that external energy I think we’ve been missing for a little bit. He’s gonna bring that, and I aspire to bring that kind of energy as well,” he continued.
When the lights dimmed in the gym at 8 p.m., Blind Eyez stood before a full audience, backed by a live band consisting of friends and fellow Ramapo musicians. As promised, he ended his set with a rendition of “Zoned.”
After a brief interlude, Kid Ink appeared, shouting to a cheering crowd as he ran across the stage, flanked by a hype man and a DJ. Multicolored lights illuminated the rapper and the audience alike as he began his first number. One student in the crowd, sophomore Ariana Bernardo, was especially excited.
“I’ve been a fan for two years,” she said. Bernardo hoped Ink would play her favorites:
“’Hotel’ by him and Chris Brown, and ‘Hell & Back’ is a good song.”
Toward the midpoint of his set, Ink paused on stage to remove a lighter from his pocket. He held it above his head, and asked the audience to lift their own lighters and cellphones into the air. The crowd complied, and the gym lit up in the darkness, as attendees held their lights aloft.
“Good, we’re finally on the same page,” Ink said, looking out into the audience. “We’re sharing the same energy.”
Before leaving the stage, after his last song, he threw a towel and his freshly removed T-shirt into the audience. An eager fan grabbed the towel, and would wait until the crowd cleared to have the cloth signed by Ink himself.
After the show, Ink relaxed in a conference room above the gym, sitting on a couch as his entourage watched television and ate from sandwich platters.
Wearing a crisp new T-shirt, Ink intertwined his heavily-tattooed fingers and described the unique experience of performing at a college venue.
“The energy differs in terms of how fans react to certain types of music,” he said. “When I play colleges and schools, I switch up my set a little bit and do not only club records … when I play colleges, I can play slower songs and album cuts, and mixtape records that were never on the radio and stuff that the fans appreciate because it’s more relatable music.”
Ink recalled previous conversations with college students.
“People tell me, ‘Oh, “Hell & Back” or “I Just Want it All” or “Time of Your Life,” those got me through finals and got me through the semester.’ Those records hit a little harder – when I go to club shows, they just want to hear what’s on the radio,” he said.
Having just celebrated his 30th birthday on April 1, Ink’s mind is on the future. According to the entertainer, he hopes to expand to other forms of media.
“With being a little bit more confident with my music, and secure in my position in the game, I’m hoping to tap into other forms of entertainment, the art side of things … like film, and fun stuff that I’m into, instead of sticking myself in the studio,” Ink said.