Back To His Roots

Photo by Todd Cooper

In today’s thicket of Soundcloud rappers who flaunt gaudy face tattoos and a few pounds of diamond chains around their necks, it’s easy for hip hop’s tradition of storytelling to get lost in the weeds. J.I.D pushes the boundaries of modern hip hop by sticking to its roots, avoiding the mumble-rap craze while adding a contemporary twist.

Soon after he dropped out of high school in the mid 2000s, J.I.D began churning out mixtape after mixtape. The Atlanta native crafted a sound akin to a home-cooked meal and offers a main course of ’90s lyrical structure with a heaping side of New York-paced beats. It’s filling, and hard to say no to seconds. 

By the release of his debut album The Never Story in 2017, he’d worked alongside popular rappers like 6LACK in the music collective EarthGang. He found his mainstream niche — boom bap with a dash of soul — which led him to sign with J.Cole’s label Dreamville Records. J.I.D. dropped his much-anticipated second album, DiCaprio 2, in 2018.

His most consistent themes revolve around sex, growing up poor and grinding away at his path towards fame. OK, we get it: He’s another up-and-coming rapper who spits bars about pussy and hustling. Anyone can drop a beat, post it on YouTube with flashy visuals and gain shooting-star fame over night. 

But J.I.D doesn’t lose his momentum — he stokes it. His impressive poetic hooks and prowess over uniquely sewn staccato put his craft in the league of Kendrick Lamar and Anderson Paak. He’s a modern classic, which is an oasis among today’s quick-burning entertainers.

A lucky handful of folks will enjoy J.I.D’s sold-out show, part of his first solo tour “Catch Me If You Can,” 9 pm Tuesday, Jan. 22, at WOW Hall. Check out his music on Spotify or at his official website, — Kelsey Anne Rankin