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Kid Ink brings hip-hop to servicemembers in the desert

Kid Ink performs at Naval Station Bahrain for his sixth and final show of an Armed Forces Entertainment tour of Southwest Asia.

JASON BEHNKE/STARS AND STRIPES

By JASON BEHNKE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 10, 2018

MANAMA, Bahrain – Kid Ink is on a small stage in Bahrain on a hot and humid Thursday evening. The crowd, comprised of a couple hundred servicemembers and their families, sits lethargically, sweating in the nearly 100-degree desert heat as he takes the stage.

By his third song, the audience is on its feet dancing, the oppressive heat mostly forgotten.

Bahrain was Kid Ink’s sixth and final show of his Armed Forces Entertainment tour of Southwest Asia. After spending time with the troops throughout the region, he brought away a new appreciation for what servicemembers do.

“Especially a bunch of young kids that do these crazy jobs that I probably would have never been able to do at 21 or had the focus to do at 21,” Kid Ink said in an interview with American Forces Radio Bahrain. “It was already hard enough for me to keep a job at Gap at 21.”

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Although he wasn’t “fixing engines or blowing up mines” when he was younger, at 15 he was already producing beats with his friends. Now, at 32, he’s sold more than 12 million singles, recorded songs with superstars like Usher and Chris Brown, and toured the world with some of the biggest names in hip-hop.

Kid Ink knows how music can be an escape from everyday life. He says he came on this tour because he wanted to give the people dealing with the stresses of missing family and working long days in the desert heat a short escape from the realities of being deployed.

“It’s definitely a great experience for them, it’s a great experience for me, I think we’ll all live with it forever, and you know it’s just dope. I couldn’t deny this opportunity at all,” he said.

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If it wasn’t for his mom forcing him to learn piano and sing in the church choir, he may never have had the chance to touch millions of people with his music, he said. The piano lessons taught him the patience to stick with music and pursue it as a career.

“It just all was God’s plan, you know, I feel like,” he said. “I think it was probably a 10-year grind before I really felt like I had a job in music and could make it a career.”

His work ethic was on full display as he moved about the stage for nearly an hour. By the end of the show, both he and the audience were drenched in sweat. It took a few songs to get the fans moving, but just like with his career, he put in the work and pulled it off.

behnke.jason@stripes.com
Twitter: @JasonFromSD

Kid Ink performs at Naval Station Bahrain for his sixth and final show of an Armed Forces Entertainment tour of Southwest Asia.
JASON BEHNKE/STARS AND STRIPES

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