During his teenage years, Brian Todd Collins attended after-school music programs, where he produced hip-hop beats and tracks. He cites Timbaland, Pharrell Williams and Swizz Beatz as part of his inspiration for its work ethic with the production and songwriting, when he said: "These were artists and producers who were writing for other people in all types of genres. It just gave me an open ear for all different types of music and that's how I approached it". He landed his first genuine production credit for a Nipsey Hussle single in 2008. At 22, Collins began rapping full-time. In 2009, Collins adopted the moniker Rockstar. On February 1, 2010, Collins released his first official mixtape, titled World Tour. The mixtape gained popularity that grabbed some of the attention towards a radio disc jockey, DJ Ill Will, the founder of HotNewHipHop. He later signed to his spearheaded record label, Tha Alumni Group label, and its joint-label, 88 Classic. Collins also changed his stage name to Kid Ink, in respect for a label-mate, DJ Rockstar.