J.I.D Sophomore Album Does Not Disappoint
By Adrian Garces
East Atlanta rapper J.I.D finally dropped his long-awaited sophomore album, “ DiCaprio 2” on Monday, Nov. 25, 2018. This was a very unorthodox choice as most artists drop their projects on a Friday. The album is a sequel to the artist’s 2015 mixtape “DiCaprio.” It is safe to say that J.I.D has a had a prosperous career so far, and this album might be just what he needed to launch him into mainstream hip-hop, capitalizing off of his recent buzz. Although J.I.D may be an unfamiliar artist for many, those who closely follow hip-hop culture know that J.I.D is an up and coming artist. He was recently named a 2018 XXL Freshman of the Year, an award given to XXL magazine’s favorite new artists for a given year. J.I.D is in good company with artists like Chance the Rapper, Travis Scott, Anderson .Paak, and Vince Staples, all of whom have also been named XXL Freshman at some point or another. All of this is topped off with J.I.D’s recent admission into the talented Dreamville label, founded by J.Cole, and a fantastic debut album, 2017’s “The Never Story.” J.I.D has everything to gain from a stand-out piece of work, and he comes through and then some.
The Dreamville rapper is known for his play on words, lyricism and creativity, embracing his style and not shying away from criticism. In his early career, he received negativity from some critics who said that he sounds like Kendrick Lamar when he pitches his voice, as Kendrick uses the same technique on albums like “To Pimp a Butterfly.” This is not to say that they sound alike, but they have a similar sound. J.I.D does not seem to listen to critics, creating a style unique to him all while separating himself from his peers. His ability to change the pace on the tracks, along with incredible wordplay and punchlines make him a standout in his own label or anyone in the rap game.
“Dicaprio 2” begins with “Frequency Change,” a skit of someone skimming through channels on his TV, showing soap operas, news and comedies all with a humorous twist, ending with static transitioning into “Slick Talk.” “Slick Talk” is an aggressive track, with J.I.D cocky line, “ I know a lotta your favorites not gon' (expletive) with this part, When I'm done, please know that I was trying to diss y'all.” The Atlanta rapper is not attempting to make any friends, firing from all cylinders with a chip on his shoulder. Tracks like “ Off Deez (feat. J.Cole)” and “151 Rum,” (which were released before the album) are just a few examples of J.I.D proving he can hang with the best rappers in terms of lyricism, going back and forth with J. Cole on “Off Deaz.” The J.Cole signee then slows down the pace of the album from there on out, with more slow paced beats and hypnotic rhymes. “Tiiied (feat. 6LACK and Ella Mai),” is a perfect example where you can hear J.I.D take over the hook in a low and soothing voice accompanied by a low beat. The final track, “Despacito Too” ties the album together, being a medium of the two main styles shown in “DiCaprio 2”. The final track ends with the beat dying down and J.I.D freestyling over silence saying, “Only the strong in mind and soul and spirit and spine /You stand firm, you rise, it's go time!”
The tone and message of the album is to fire back on the critics that have slept on him in the past, which is why the album cover and album name allude to actor Leonardo DiCaprio, a critically acclaimed actor in movies like the “Titanic” (1997), “Wolf of Wall Street” (2013) and “Revenant” (2015). Before finally winning an Oscar for his work in “Revenant,” he was known for never having won one, although many fans thought he should have won many. J.I.D clearly draws a parallel between both of their careers saying that he is not getting the credit he deserves for his work so far just like DiCaprio didn’t get enough recognition for his work, which is why he comes off very aggressive, forcing the rap game to take notice. The 28 year old rapper confirms this by saying in a “Rolling Stone interview, “He didn’t have an Oscar at the time. I didn’t have a deal. Now I got a deal, things going forward. He got an Oscar, things are going forward. I wasn’t trying to make it seem like, ‘Oh, we’re the best friends. We have the same life story,’ but I’m like, it’s similarities there.”
As aforementioned, the album definitely has hints of the older J.I.D that was seen on, “The Never Story”, with some tracks that are very slowed down and melodic like “Tiiide (Feat. 6LACK and Ella Mai),” “Off da Zoinkys,” and “Workin Out.” But the main difference is the energy exerted on the majority of the tracks on the project -- it is energetic, aggressive and confident. He has improved from his debut album, adding versatility to an already impressive arsenal of ability on tracks. As someone who has followed J.I.D for almost two years now, this album exceeded expectations of what I wanted to see in terms of experimentation, but also in him honing his own style and making it his own. He will be an artist many gravitate to in the future and hopefully he stays on this very promising path.