ALBUM REVIEW: DiCaprio 2 by JID
Description: Destin Route, better known by his stage name JID, is a hip hop artist from Atlanta, Georgia. He began his music career after meeting the rap duo, EARTHGANG, while attending Hampton University. Together, they formed the rap group, Spillage Village, and released a few mixtapes before being signed to J. Cole’s record label, Dreamville. Just last year in 2017, JID dropped his debut album, The Never Story. DiCaprio 2 is JID’s second studio album.
Final Thoughts: I have had high expectations for JID ever since I heard his lead single from his last commercial project, “NEVER”. He showed tremendous potential as both a songwriter and rapper from his first album. He showed off Kendrick-esque type flows and seemed to have a clear direction of where he wanted to take his music. On DiCaprio 2, we start to see JID come into his own as an artist as he utilizes hard 808 production to complement his effortless flows.
We see this right away on the first full-length track, “Slick Talk”, as he opens with the word, “Activate”, as if to signify that he’s activating his rapid-fire rap style. This proves to be true as he spits, “Activation, activation/ Maturation, process, rap game too saturated/ Grab your lady, masturbation on her face/ A acne patient acting patient, so complacent/ Comfortable, a basic bowl of shit/ Hold my own, I own my dick/ Go shaloma unpredictable/ And roll with the clique and fold with big clips.” And that’s only the first 30 seconds of the track. This guy seamlessly weaves his way in and out of different rhyme patterns constantly, and it doesn’t sound like he ever takes a breath in doing so. We then get a beat switch 15 seconds later, where JID essentially tells us why he’s making noise in the rap game. Here’s the bar that really stood out to me upon first listen:
Who's your list? Your top 10? You can say whoever better than/I'm ready now, I was ready then, I was headead down the aisle/Rap game in a wedding gown, she gave me the ring/ I said, 'Yes' and vowed for forever now.
He’s asking the listener to give him your top 10 list of best rappers dead/alive, and he says he can match up with any of them. I also love the symbolism here of the rap game being his bride and that she gave him the ring to take control. Hell of an opener.
The confidence continues on the track, “Off Deez”, which has a guest feature from J. Cole. This song SLAPS. I dare anyone to listen to this song and not want to do some sprints. From the fast-paced 808-driven production to, this track has an incredible amount of energy. I would argue this contains one of J. Cole’s best guest features as he somehow matches JID’s flows heard throughout verse 1. The track itself is a declaration to their critics to basically “get off their dicks”. In PG language: they don’t want to be bothered by negativity. Followed by this song is “151 Rum”, which was the lead single to this album. Yet again, JID makes a song that makes you want to get up off the couch and do some laps. It showcases so much confidence in his ability as a rapper, I mean just listen to the song and tell me he isn’t the modern-day flow god. I lose track of the amount of rhyme schemes he manages to spit in just a matter of two and a half minutes. It’s so impressive.
We then hear the smooth, jazz tune of “Working Out”. It’s a testament to his success as an artist, but still feeling like there’s a void in his life. I think the sample used on this track is perfect with JID’s voice. It comes from Helen Merrill’s “Don’t Explain”, and we hear her sing at the midway point, “Quiet, don’t explain/ What is there to gain?” Right before this, we hear the chorus where JID sings, “Cause I been working hella hard, shit ain’t really workin out/ I been prayin to the Lord, shit ain’t really workin out/ I been looking to the stars, keep my head up in the clouds, shit ain’t really workin out.” The sample fits the narrative seamlessly. The tail end of the song, we learn what drags him down: “Since you winning, you a object of ridicule/ Objects appearing closer than you ready for/ Obviously you don’t know what’s ahead/ But that’s the reason you can work ‘til you dead.” He’s saying he gets showered with materialistic things upon great success, as well as immense ridicule with that same success. He plans on working at his craft until he physically is unable to do so.
Another favorite of mine: “Skrawberries”. Produced by J. Cole and Mac Miller, the song is about JID’s romantic relationship at the time. JID had this to say about Mac’s contribution to the song: “The way Mac sectioned my shit off and placed the beat on ‘Skrawberry’, I was like ‘Yo, you’re a genius. You’re more than a lyricist.’ I started the song in 2015 and finished my last verse this year.” It sounds like Mac had a pretty significant impact on not only this song, but on JID’s musical style in general. Mac was always known for his fun-loving personality, and JID shows off some humor on this track when he says, “My home girl rap, and she feminist/ Hold it down for the women, I call her ‘Feminem’.” Contrary to that funny bar, he spits, “And then she had a man who used to beat her so she told me she wanted out/ Got a couple abortions, now that pussy’s a haunted house/ Now her heart cold, Antarctica, Siberia/ Had it planned out, curriculum, criteria.” A woman he once loved was involved in a toxic relationship, and the result was severe emotional and physical pain. A ‘haunted house’ here refers to the woman essentially creating a ghost by killing the unborn child through the abortion. The chorus of this song is sung by none other than BJ The Chicago Kid: “Yeah for life, baby, I’m dressed for the war/ Baby girl, I’m your soldier/ But trippin’ like this back and forth wonder who gon’ hold you/ Everybody needs somebody to hold them down.”
A few tracks later we hear another rambunctious cut titled “Mounted Up”. The beat has an electric guitar, bouncy riff that’s accompanied by ome hard 808 drum patterns. It is yet another display of JID’s lyrical prowess. My favorite bar on here has to be when he says in verse 1, “I’m from the era of real shit, kill-or-be-killed shit/ Kill-or-be real quick, float like butterfly/ Sting like killer bee, flow worth kilograms/ You n***** killin’ me thinkin’ you ill as me/ What’s shit to an enema, enemy?/ Anyone, get at me, I’m the epitome.” And finally, we get the major highlight of the project in the form of “Just da Other Day”. I think it honestly could have made its way on his last full length project, The Never Story, but it’s just as poignant on this album, as well. He details his upbringing into the music industry, starting from nothing and turning it into something. He raps on the chorus, “Just the other day I was goddamn broke/ You got a five, I got a five, let’s smoke/ Just the other day I was running from them folks/ Woah, woah, n**** you too slow.” It feels like just yesterday for JID that he was broke, looking for weed to smoke and running from the feds. As the song details, he is well aware that at any minute, his success could be taken away, so he doesn’t take any of it for granted and intends to continue on his current music trajectory.
DiCaprio 2 showcases an array of talent from one of hip hop’s young stars. This album is jam-packed with great tracks, some of which I wasn’t able to talk about here (“Tiiied”, “Hot Box”, “Despacito Too”). I don’t have many complaints about this project, other than that I think it felt more like a mixtape than an album to me. The songs are great, but I think he’ll be able to dial in a concept album that flows perfectly from one track to the next. Although I understand what he was doing with the film concept on this album, I wasn’t a huge fan of the mini skits heard before/after certain tracks. But DJ Drama did provide some fun hype before certain songs began. All in all, if you are so bored in hearing the same triplet flows all new young rap stars are utilizing nowadays, check this project out. It’s a breath of fresh air.
Favorite Tracks: Just da Other Day, Workin Out, Mounted Up, Off Deez, Skrawberries