JID goes above and beyond expectations on "The Forever Story"

by Ben Gardner

JID goes above and beyond expectations on "The Forever Story"

JID is one of the most talented rappers out right now. Period. From a technical standpoint, he can spit on par with legends of this generation such as Kendrick Lamar and Lil Wayne (just watch his XXL Freshman cypher). He crafts creative, smooth, and sometimes rapid-fire flows effortlessly, while also maintaining an interesting and distinct personality in his rhymes. His two previous bodies of work, mixtape Dicaprio 2 and debut album The Never Story (referenced in this album’s title), are good, but many listeners could tell he had a much higher ceiling. Personally, I was expecting JID to take his artistry up a step on The Forever Story – and he blew those expectations out of the water.

The album starts off fast after a brief intro with the New York drill-inspired “Raydar”. JID immediately drops listeners into a rollercoaster ride of rapid-fire flows, two smooth beat switches, and sample recordings of a football game, most likely a reference to his brief college football career. Next comes the second single off of the album, “Dance Now,” featuring up-and-coming fellow Atlanta artist Kenny Mason, who JID also collaborated with on Dreamville’s hit “Stick.” The track’s pulsating beat fuels JID to spit catchy and clever bars throughout. There’s a slick double entendre on this one: “Lemme bear it all when I’m tellin’ God / You know I’ma rant when I talk to Jah.” Ja Morant (I’ma rant) is a basketball player who plays for the Memphis Grizzlies (bear), and Jah is a shortened name for God in a handful of Abrahamic religions. Sheesh, man.

JID’s fellow Dreamville labelmates EARTHGANG (rappers Olu and WowGr8) bring tons of energy on “Can’t Punk Me.” All three of the rappers deliver sonically pleasing and expressive verses and create great chemistry – unsurprising, considering they’ve been rapping together since they met in 2010. Kenny Mason returns later in the album along with Lil Wayne on “Just in Time,” which features a flowy orchestral loop and enticing performances by all three rappers.

Don’t worry, the album isn’t just filled with bangers. There are more laid-back songs such as “Can’t Make You Change” and “Stars,” on the latter of which JID soothes the listener with smooth vocals and a steady beat. At the end of the track, there is a sudden beat switch and Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) spits the best guest verse on the album, criticizing modern hip-hop culture. He has some great alliteration at the end of his verse: “Bey tap in, they tap out like a tabloid typist / the touch too tiny to the titan.”

JID displays his storytelling skills on “Crack Sandwich,” which details his relationship with his siblings and parents through the story of a brawl in New Orleans they all participated in. Through the somewhat comical and jarring story of him and his siblings fighting their way out of a club together, JID eloquently paints a picture of his upbringing. He portrays his parents as harsh yet loving, which led to the creation of the strong bond he now shares with his six siblings. The tracks “Bruddanem” and “Sistanem” continue the themes of family and sibling relationships: on the former, JID teams up with Lil Durk to rap about the bond they have with the brothers over a minimalistic beat. The latter is dedicated to his sister and the impact she’s had on JID’s life.

The title of the closing track, “Lauder Too,” references the closing track of The Never Story, “Lauder,” and similar to its namesake, this track ends the album with a bang. JID flawlessly delivers verses about struggling with fame over a pulsating bassline, and then at the minute mark, the beat drops out to reveal an absolutely gorgeous chorus from singer Ravyn Lenae. Afterward, JID continues to serve bars so intricate and tight that the listener can barely comprehend them on first listen, only to have an ‘ahh’ moment when they understand his genius.

Not only does JID show off his rapping chops throughout this album, but he also sings quite well on a number of songs. “Kody Blu 31” and “Better Days” are phenomenal tracks on which JID delivers beautifully sung choruses. JID’s singing capabilities were known, but he had yet to show off those skills as he does on The Forever Story. Through both his rapping and singing, as well as great beat and feature selection, JID has given his fans what they expected from him and more. He has proven himself to be a multi-dimensional and insanely talented artist whose artistic ceiling knows no bounds. If he continues on this path, he will be remembered as a legend.