More than a year after releasing his critically acclaimed debut album, The Never Story, Atlanta rapper J.I.D is back with his sophomore project, DiCaprio 2. In a time when technical lyrical ability in rap has become secondary to whatever else people gravitate to, J.I.D effortlessly seems his way to the top of the rap game, diverging through the modern, and often redundant, hip hop sound. The 28 year-old has been signed to J. Cole’s label, Dreamville, since early 2017 and has not failed to make any impressions in 2018. One of the highlights of 2018 for J.I.D was his feature on the XXL Freshman List. That feature shows that what differentiates him from many of his contemporaries is that he exhibits a sense of care for what he says and how he delivers his words. This isn’t just a hobby for him, he actually loves to rap.
In multiple interviews, J.I.D has mentioned his intention to try to be the better than every other rapper. If there’s any doubt about his desire to be the best, he wipes that away on the Kenny Beats produced “Slick Talk”. J.I.D begins with an animated flow that transitions into some darker, ferocious talk that takes aim at every rapper. This is followed by “Westbrook” which features an ASAP Ferg hook, and and overall mood that imitates that of Russell Westbrook on the basketball court. The two tracks that follow this are the two lead singles, the first being “Off Deez” where J.I.D and J. Cole go toe to toe on a cadence of flows. On “151 Rum”, J.I.D gets a bit more personal reflecting on some of the hardships of his life, including watching his friend get shot in the head.
The next few tracks that ensue, the project takes on a more subtle, retro tone. “Off da Zoinkys” holds J.I.D on the opposite spectrum of where many of rappers stand on drugs today. Rather than endorsing drug use, J.I.D persuades listeners to get off them by reflecting on all the negative aspects that drug use has had on his life and the lives of his people. On “Working Out”, J.I.D is in a vulnerable state, rapping “I wanna cry cause I’m numb inside/If you wonder why, ask what’s the matter?”. He maintains a somber mood over a smooth jazz infused song.
“Tiiied” sees more of J.I.D’s uncanny ability to melodize and flow as he reflects on some misfortunes he’s had with previous women in his life. Fellow Atlanta native 6lack also joins in on reflecting on previous relationships. Ella Mai contributes her part as well, but does so by reversing the roles. The end of this track leads well into “Skrawberries”, where J.I.D contrasts his previous track and instead shows his admiration for the women in his life. The track is filled with soothing vocals from BJ the Chicago Kid, leaving you in a state of tranquility.
On “Hot Box”, J.I.D, Method Man, and Joey Bada$$ render a vintage collab that should have old hip hop heads content. “Mounted Up” sounds exactly like it’s title, as J.I.D tiptoes between a range of flows and cadences which at this point has become a trademark of the album. He does the same on “Just da Other Day”, where he reflects on a time not so long ago before the mounting success. J.I.D is aware that it’s a success that can go faster than it took to gain. “Mounted Up” is a story about how every artist feels growing up. A few people, if any, believe in their dreams. Many mock these dreams. J.I.D was no exclusion to this criticism growing up. As he says, “it’s all for the kids man.”
“Hasta Luego”, initially released in the summer of 2017, is the bonus track on this album. As the last thing we hear from J.I.D on this project, it perfectly sums up the ruthlessness that he has every time he steps into the booth. His ability to finesse between melodies is similar to Kendrick Lamar. His way of animating himself and his energy is similar to Lil Wayne, but if there’s anything that DiCaprio 2 shows it’s that along with these incredible abilities, he has so much more to offer. He is here to stay for years to come, and as he takes on his quest to reach the top of the rap game, he might also bring lyricism back to the forefront of the genre.
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J.I.D: ‘DiCaprio 2’ Album Review: Featured Image Credit: Dreamville/Interscope/Spillage Village