The Houston rapper rose to fame following the success of his 2011 single "Drank In My Cup." What's he up to now?
In 2011, Kirko Bangz broke into mainstream rap with his slurred, melodic flow. The Houston-bred artist garnered early comparisons to rap superstars like Drake and Lil Wayne, for his unique sing-rapping style. Bangz’s first two singles “What Yo Name Iz” and “Drank In My Cup” set the stage for what looked like a promising career. Unfortunately, following multiple delays, his debut album Bigger Than Me would never be released and Kirko eventually fell out of the limelight, and seemingly out of favor.
What led to his fall from ascension? Let’s take a look back at how it all began for Kirko and what he’s been up to since he sky-rocketed to fame during the height of the blog era.
Kirko began rapping at the age of 15, after being inspired by the struggles of his single mother. Upon graduating high school, Bangz went on to attend Prairie View University. At the time, Prairie View had produced hip-hop talents like the Party Boys, Dorrough, and DJ Premier. In an interview from 2012, Kirko recalls not going to college for an education, but instead, to further his rap career by networking. To that end, he actually dropped out during his junior year and began to hone in on his skills. The result was his debut mixtape, Procrastination Kills, in 2009. The mixtape got the attention of fellow student and soon-to-be manager, D Will. Together the pair worked tirelessly to make Kirko a household name, and released another mixtape, Procrastination Kills 2 in 2010.
Warner Bros Deal
Rick Diamond/Getty Images
Originally appearing on his debut mixtape, Kirko’s first single, “What Yo Name Iz,” began as a six-minute freestyle that Kirko wanted to make into a “banger” In an ode to his hometown Houston, he told his production team, Sound MOB, to make it “slow and knock,” before the producers suggested adding Auto-Tune. This came with some skepticism from Kirko, who had never used Auto-Tune before, but he eventually agreed to try it. Bangz was convinced by new manager D Will to cut the song in half, making it around three minutes in length, and adding a hook. This version was released on February 7, 2011. The newly-released song garnered the attention of Warner Bros. reps looking for talent and the duo was signed. The song was Kirko’s first charting single, peaking at number 41 on the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, and it is also featured on his mixtape Procrastination Kills 3.
Drank In My Cup
Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images
In September of 2011 “Drank In My Cup” was released. The single was later featured on the 2012 mixtape, Progression 2: A Young Texas Playa. The platinum single catapulted Kirko’s career into the upper echelons, peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart. The song even dethroned Drake and Lil Wayne’s, “The Motto,” after the YOLO anthem stayed number one for 14 weeks straight. The official remix of “Drank In My Cup” featured 2 Chainz and Juelz Santana and spawned remixes from J. Cole, Tyga, Trey Songz, Redman, and more.
Bigger Than Me
Rob Kim/FilmMagic/Getty Images
After signing with Atlantic Records in 2014, Kirko went on to release his first single from his anticipated album, Bigger Than Me, with “Hoe” featuring YG and Yo Gotti in January of 2014. The song came in as Kirko’s lowest-charting single on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at no. 137. Then, in March of the same year, Kirko surprised fans with the fourth installment of the Progression series featuring all freestyles.
In an interview with HNHH one a month later, Kirko announced Bigger Than Me would finally be released in June. After an album-less June, in July of 2014, the second single from the album, “Rich,” featuring August Alsina, dropped. This single would be Kirko’s second-highest peak on the Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at no. 37.
Kirko never explained what led to his departure from Atlantic after a year, but with the album failing to appear, in July of 2015, it was announced that Bangz had signed with 300 Entertainment, joining Fetty Wap, Young Thug, and Migos as new label signees.
In an interview with The Breakfast Club around that same time, Kirko announced the Bigger Than Me would be coming later in the year and blamed the label, himself, strip clubs, and spending money as various reasons why his album had been delayed. The album was never released, but in December of 2014, Kirko dropped Progression V: Young Texas Player.
Kirko’s next project wouldn’t drop for another eight months. In August of 2015, Bangz released The Fallin Up Mix. Although still singed to 300 Entertainment, Kirko released the EP independently. The EP also featured the single “Worry Bout It” with 300-labelmate Fetty Wap. After being delayed for a week, Playa Made, Kirko’s first project under 300 Entertainment, was released in February of 2016. He would also release the mixtape, Back Flossin in August of the same year, but he would never drop an album under 300 Entertainment.
On October 8th, 2020, Kirko shocked and saddened fans when he announced the death of his 4-year-old son with girlfriend Rayne Guerra, Treyson Anthony. No details on how his son passed were shared, only a tear-jerking message.
"Fly high BIG MAN . We love you so much! We had so much planned that we won’t be able to do now but we know your in a better place and in no more pain ! Watch over your mom she needs your strength more than ever right now poppa man. I know u don’t hurt no more and I try to make myself think of that to find a little bit of light in this. GOD got u poppa I love u !"
In December of 2020, Kirko dropped his first song since his son’s death and the first single from his new-upcoming album, Now That U Here. In the single titled, “Away” Kirko mourns the loss of his son saying, "Treyson tell God I’m on my way I hope you wait for me/Guardian Angel keep that phony s*** away from me/I give it all away for you to lay with me."
Kirko also raps about the death of his son from his son’s perspective on, “Treyson’s Letter,” another song taken from Now That U Here.
In the song, Kirko sheds some light on his son's passing, revealing an undisclosed illness when he raps, "Aint no more cold rooms/Aint no more treatments Momma/ All them surgeries was weighing on me, I got weaker Momma."
Similar to Nipsey Hussle’s “Proud 2 Pay” pack, an $85 bundle pack for Kirko’s Now That U Here album was announced on February 8th via Kirko’s social media. The bundle pack, which included only 1000 copies, came with a digital copy of the album, a Now That U Here hoodie, a signed collectible CD, and the “Now That U Here” music video.
Since the album's release in February, it peaked at #17 on the Apple Music rap chart. The project delivers the screwed-up beats that made Kirko popular early on, like on “Still Holding,” featuring fellow Houston legend Slim Thug. Bangz also links up with Chicago rapper Lil Durk for “Violent” combining their unique, melodic flows.
Although Kirko had a brief hiatus from music he's clearly back and doing well. After seemingly dealing with a few wonky label situations, Bangz now has his own label, Always Progressing Records, which he used to drop Now That U Here. He revealed the news on Instagram post-album release, telling his fans just how much effort he personally put into the project:
"I recorded myself, arranged, put album roll out together, chose album cover, made pre album trailer got video shot, uploaded songs to Tunecore, got songs mixed, negotiated my own termination of my label contract, started my own label, got website done, found new producers off youtube & ig, got features everything u can think of on this album i did it myself not saying u dont need a team but when nobody believed including myself and after i seen tragedy in my life i woke up and i been charged up ever since."
Now completely independent, Kirko seems to finally have his freedom back, and hopefully that means he'll continue to release new music.
Have you missed Kirko Bangz? Let us know if you're a fan of the rapper in the comments.