Kirko Bangz made his mainstream rap debut in 2011 with his slurred, melodic flow.
For his unique sing-rapping style, the Houston-bred artist drew early comparisons to rap superstars Drake and Lil Wayne.
Bangz’s debut singles, “What Yo Name Iz” and “Drank In My Cup,” laid the groundwork for what appeared to be a promising career.
Unfortunately, due to multiple delays, Kirko’s debut album Bigger Than Me was never released, and he eventually faded from the limelight and appeared to fall out of favour.
What precipitated his demise from ascension?
Let’s take a look back at how Kirko got his start and what he’s been up to since he shot to fame during the blogosphere’s heydey.
Kirko began rapping at the age of 15, inspired by his single mother’s struggles. Bangz attended Prairie View University after graduating from high school.
Prairie View had previously produced hip-hop artists such as the Party Boys, Dorrough, and DJ Premier.
Kirko recalls attending college not for an education, but to advance his rap career through networking in a 2012 interview.
To that end, he dropped out of high school during his junior year and began honing his skills. In 2009, he released his debut mixtape, Procrastination Kills.
D Will, a fellow student and soon-to-be manager, took notice of the mixtape. They collaborated tirelessly to establish Kirko as a household name, and in 2010 released another mixtape, Procrastination Kills 2.
Kirko’s debut single, “What Yo Name Iz,” began as a six-minute freestyle that Kirko desired to turn into a “banger.”
In a tribute to his hometown of Houston, he instructed his production team, Sound MOB, to keep the song “slow and knocking” before the producers suggested adding Auto-Tune.
Kirko initially expressed scepticism, as he had never used Auto-Tune before, but he eventually agreed to give it a try.
Bangz was convinced to cut the song in half by new manager D Will, bringing it to around three minutes in length and adding a hook. This version was made available to the public on February 7, 2011.
The newly-released song drew the attention of Warner Bros. talent scouts, who signed the duo.
Kirko’s first charting single, the song peaked at number 41 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in the United States, and it is also featured on his mixtape Procrastination Kills 3.
“Drank In My Cup” was released in September 2011. The single was later included on Progression 2: A Young Texas Playa, a 2012 mixtape.
Kirko’s career soared to new heights with the platinum single, which peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart.
The song even dethroned Drake and Lil Wayne’s “The Motto,” which had held the top spot for 14 weeks in a row.
The official remix of “Drank In My Cup” featured 2 Chainz and Juelz Santana and was subsequently remixed by J. Cole, Tyga, Trey Songz, and Redman, among others.
After signing with Atlantic Records in 2014, Kirko released “Hoe,” featuring YG and Yo Gotti, as the lead single from his anticipated album, Bigger Than Me, in January 2014.
The song debuted at no. 137 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Kirko then surprised fans in March of the same year with the fourth instalment of the Progression series, which included all freestyles.
A month later, in an interview with HNHH, Kirko announced that Bigger Than Me would finally be released in June.
After an album-less June, the album’s second single, “Rich,” featuring August Alsina, was released in July 2014.
This single would become Kirko’s second highest charting single on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, peaking at number 37.
Kirko never explained why he left Atlantic after a year, but with the album failing to materialise, Bangz signed with 300 Entertainment in July 2015, joining Fetty Wap, Young Thug, and Migos as new label signees.
Kirko announced the release of Bigger Than Me later that year in an interview with The Breakfast Club, blaming the label, himself, strip clubs, and spending money for the album’s delay.
Kirko never released the album, but in December 2014, he released Progression V: Young Texas Player.
Kirko’s next project would take another eight months to complete. Bangz released The Fallin Up Mix in August 2015.
Although Kirko was still signed to 300 Entertainment, he self-released the EP. Additionally, the EP included the single “Worry Bout It” featuring 300 labelmate Fetty Wap.
a week of delay, Kirko’s first project under 300 Entertainment, Playa Made, was released in February 2016.
In August of the same year, he would also release the mixtape Back Flossin, but he would never release an album under 300 Entertainment.
Kirko shocked and saddened fans on October 8th, 2020, when he announced the death of his 4-year-old son, Treyson Anthony, with girlfriend Rayne Guerra.
There were no details shared about his son’s death, only a tear-jerking message.
“BIG MAN, soar high. We adore you! We had so much planned that we will be unable to accomplish now, but we are confident that you are in a better place and are no longer in pain!
Keep an eye on your mother; she requires your strength more than ever at the moment, poppa man.
I am aware that you are no longer in pain, and I am attempting to remind myself of this in order to find a glimmer of hope in this. GOD has redeemed you, poppa, and I adore you!”
Kirko released his first song since his son’s death, Now That U Here, in December 2020.
Kirko laments the loss of his son in the single “Away,” saying, “Treyson, tell God I’m on my way, I hope you’re waiting for me/Guardian Angel, keep that phoney s*** away from me/I give it all away for you to lay with me.”
Kirko also raps about his son’s death from the perspective of his son on “Treyson’s Letter,” another song from Now That U Here.
Kirko sheds light on his son’s death in the song, revealing an undisclosed illness when he raps, “Ain’t no more cold rooms/Ain’t no more treatments Momma/ All those surgeries were weighing on me, I got weaker Momma.”
Similar to Nipsey Hussle’s “Proud 2 Pay” pack, Kirko announced a $85 bundle pack for his Now That U Here album via social media on February 8th.
The limited-edition bundle pack included a digital copy of the album, a Now That U Here hoodie, a signed collectable CD, and the music video for “Now That U Here.”
Since its February release, the album has peaked at #17 on Apple Music’s rap chart.
The project features the screwed-up beats that established Kirko’s early popularity, such as “Still Holding,” which features fellow Houston legend Slim Thug.
Bangz also collaborates with Chicago rapper Lil Durk on “Violent,” fusing their distinctive melodic flows.
Despite a brief hiatus from music, Kirko is clearly back and doing well. Bangz now has his own label, Always Progressing Records, which he used to release Now That U Here.
He announced the news on Instagram following the album’s release, telling his fans how much effort he put into the project personally:
“I recorded, arranged, put together the album roll out, chose the album cover, shot the pre-album trailer, uploaded the songs to Tunecore, had them mixed, negotiated my own termination of my label contract, started my own label, had the website built, found new producers via YouTube & instagram, and got features on this album”.
Kirko appears to have reclaimed his independence, which hopefully means he will continue to release new music.