J.I.D, born Destin Route, is a 27-year-old rapper fresh out of Atlanta, Georgia, and simultaneously one of the most recent additions to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records, sublabel to Interscope. For a little bit of a back story, he’s a fresh kid whose stage name is derived from his grandma calling him a jittery child, he started off playing high school football, alongside his two future label mates Doctur Dot and Johnny Venus, who today form Earthgang.
He released a few independent and collaborative projects with artists left and right, but the purpose here is to talk about his debut album, The Never Story. First of all, the project is short, consideration the number of tracks on it. It’s a 12-track introduction into J.I.D’s upbringing and life, but only lasts just short of 40 minutes. Fortunately, that’s not a problem, because it’s an evident “quality over quantity” narrative. The album opens up with a soulful, gospel, uplifting type intro. It works. It sets the tone in a manner that kind of refashions the way J. Cole opened up 2014 Forest Hill Drive. But it only gets better. As one delves into the album more, you find all sorts of different facets of the young 27-year-old. The dude’s got talent, and he’s not holding back. He’s coming for throats, and I like it. The reason I elect to call him the new Andre 3000, the one of half of the infamous Atlanta duo Outkast (If you don’t know who I’m referring to, check yourself). It’s not the normal Atlanta sound. It’s not Migos or T.I. trap, it hasn’t got that southern vibe you hear Ludacris or Jeezy come out with. But it’s got Atlanta soul and grittiness. It makes you understand what Ray Charles’ Georgia means. It’s new, fresh and quite honestly unpredictable, just like Outkast was back in the 90’s when prolific producer L.A. Reid discovered them. The best example of the unpredictability of the project comes with the track NEVER, the main single off the album. Whilst I don’t usually use singles as a relevant representation of an artist’s capacities, that track is an absolute masterpiece, period. The flow, the lyrics, the presentation, the production, everything is on point and hard. J.I.D comes straight off the bat with a double-time flow, acapella, saying:
“Never been shit, never had shit, never knew shit, never out, never do shit, damn, but a nigga never gave two shits”.
He then goes on to start his verse at a slower pace, enabling the listener to really understand what it means, what he’s trying to say. What shocks me the most is how he’s managed to make an absolute headbanger, with a heavy bassline and a kick that’ll leave you with goosebumps, but with a topic that is nothing to dance or celebrate about.
Why this is impressive is because he seems to be coming back with this same style over and over. If you decide to take a gander at his label mates EarthGang, you’ll see that their track Meditate, which features J.I.D. on it, carries the same punch and weight. J.I.D opens up the wavy, melancholic instrumental with the same double-timed pace, and the words:
“Everybody wanna be a nigga, but nobody wanna be a nigga when it’s time to be a nigga.”
This a reference to the African-American comedian Paul Mooney, who infamously said this in an appearance he made on Dave Chapelle’s The Chapelle Show. It’s something that meant a lot at the time, and to this day still means a lot. At the time, Mooney followed up with “The African-American man is the most imitated person on earth”, and whether you like it or not, there’s a strong degree of truth. The African-American culture is one that sets trends, who’s pioneers have dominated the entertainment and sports industry, alongside some of the most prolific freedom rights fighters and greatest inspirations for equality, with Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Mohammed Ali, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Colin Kaepernick, and the list goes on. It was true in the 90’s when Mooney said it, and remains true today when J.I.D. reiterates it.
So, if I were to make a prediction, I’d say that J.I.D is one of those goes that will leave a mark on everything he touches. He’s young and he’s got something to say, and personally, I’m really fond of the way he says it. The best part is the kid is just having loads of fun, and you can tell. The only thing he needs to do now is to work on his exposure, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue, considering his boss is J. Cole. We need to look out for what J.I.D. is gonna do because it could very well be putting some people out of business.
Final verdict: J.I.D is ill and surrounded by the right people, he could very well achieve that GOAT status every rapper is aiming for.