After J.I.D’s 2017 debut album The Never Story (which was one of my favorite albums of last year), he has begun to find great success. In addition to being a 2018 XXL freshman, he has put out some incredible feature verses since The Never Story, such as his verses on EARTHGANG’s “Meditate,” Rapsody’s “Redblue,” and Denzel Curry’s “SIRENS.” When I think of J.I.D, a few words come to mind, such as Atlanta, Spillage Village, and hip-hop. The main word I think of, however, is versatility. His vocal ability is incredible. He can tackle any rapping style, from rapid-fire flowing to slower spitting, from sporadic syncopated flows to more on-beat styles. Just when you think the Atlanta native will zig, he zags. Additionally, he has a great singing voice and an impeccable variety of vocal inflections. All of this led to my incredible hype for DiCaprio 2, the sequel to his DiCaprio EP, and boy, J.I.D did not disappoint.
On many of the album’s tracks, J.I.D utilizes a rapid-fire flow. This delivery has an almost robotic way of effortlessly staying on beat, despite the raw emotion that is evident in J.I.D’s voice. While for many rappers utilizing a fast-paced flow can take away from musical ability, this is not true for J.I.D. Depending on the song; the flow gives J.I.D new life. In the second verse of “Mounted Up,” J.I.D maneuvers the beat with the agility of a swagged out gazelle. In the first verse of “Slick Talk,” J.I.D sounds like he’s walking through a nightmare. The album’s two singles, “151 Rum” and “Off Deez” show J.I.D’s flexing his vocal acrobatics, twisting tongues and heavily utilizing internal rhymes. These two singles are sure to be the tracks in which fans flow over as a testament to their own ability.
The album’s middle shows J.I.D at his smoothest. In “Working Out” J.I.D muses about his desire for something greater, claiming that his hard work is not working out. Here, we see a much more vulnerable side of J.I.D as he delicately raps and croons over a beautiful 1950’s piano sample. The following two tracks, “Tiiied” and “Skrawberries” both show J.I.D’s more sensitive side, as he talks about love. “Tiied” has a dark, woozy beat and features from 6lack and Ella Mai. 6lack sounds right at home on his verse while Mai’s outro serves as a great counterpoint to J.I.D and 6lack. “Skrawberries” features clever punchlines from J.I.D, an angelic chorus by BJ the Chicago Kid, unmistakable Mac Miller production, and a closing trumpet solo by Masego. Finally, the last song in this chill middle section is “HotBox.” This track features New York rappers Method Man and Joey Bada$$, who both are known for a vintage old-school New York sound even if Joey Bada$$ is from the new school, over a boom-bap beat. While the smooth style is very different than J.I.D’s quicker material, he sounds in his comfort zone doing both.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t pay special attention to the gospel-trap hybrid that is “Off Da Zoinky’s.” This ultralight beam of transformative hip-hop will get you higher than if you were “Off Da Zoinky’s.” Christo’s production is heavenly, beginning with a slight gospel and evolving little-by-little along with J.I.D’s rapping style. Somewhere, Joyner Lucas is kicking himself right now for not approaching Christo and pleading for this beat. During the song’s climax, J.I.D’s flow and vocal inflection are aligned perfectly to the beat; when listening, one feels an incredible dichotomy of being both hyped up out of your mind and in a state of perpetual bliss. It’s awe-worthy, and we leave your finger hovering over the replay button.
On DiCaprio 2, J.I.D utilizes a diverse beat selection as a playground for a wide variety of impressive vocal stylings. It’s only fitting that the album is named after Leonardo DiCaprio, just like the actor, almost everything J.I.D touches is fantastic. On this project, Atlanta native Destin Route carves out his own route in current hip-hop to further his destiny as one of hip-hop’s best rising acts.
COVER PHOTO: Hip Hop Spice