Dreamville’s latest signee J.I.D drops off his debut album, The Never Story, and establishes himself as a multifaceted wordsmith.
J.I.D has been buzzing for more than a minute and titular cut “Never” made him a permanent fixture on most everyone’s radar. This debut record does an excellent job of showing off the multiple sides of J.I.D without having tracks stick out for the wrong reasons. His debut is packed with bars with clever word play, soulful cuts throwing you right in your feelings, and chilled out tracks for kicking back. He’s fresh with his deliveries and knows how to play to his strengths when it comes to beats. The variety on this project makes it accessible and that means there’s no excuse to sleep on this solid debut record.
First thing to note: the timbre of J.I.D’s voice has immense swagger, making his flow all the more effortless from the first bar. Following the intro it’s clear “the kid’s got it.” There’s a very subtle rock inspiration on “General,” and coupled with the stomping beat J.I.D sounds like he’s creeping up and ready to pounce. This track establishes his sound as dark-alley-menacing, and his slips into double-time flows hint at the versatility of his raps. The transition into standout “Never” is easy, and months later the track still sounds fresh and exciting. It’s clear J.I.D hasn’t overstayed his hype. The momentous flow on “Never” leaks into the rest of the album, leaving us with some addictive and dizzying cuts.
Final track “Lauder” is injected with a new level of passion and aggression to contrast the more lax cuts like “EdEddnEddy.” J.I.D sounds hungry and out to get his on this song: “Gotta be there for my family, I gotta, can’t try to be.” His unique cadence lends itself to the focused and mean delivery he brings to this track. In fact, J.I.D’s voice and technical skill are the stars of this album, considering none of the beats are too flashy. On each track, J.I.D is flaunting his spastic wordplay and charismatic voice first, and the instrumentals second. Every line he spits comes off hard and convincing, even if he’s dropping punchlines about two girls one cup.
While he carries the majority of this album on his back, The Never Story has some strong features. “D/Vision” with EarthGang is a solid posse cut with great chemistry between the three rappers. J.I.D’s verse is packed with smart punchlines and quick switch-ups in flow to keep us hooked on every bar, and between Dot and Venus, he sounds most natural. The best feature on the album has to go to Mereba, who adds a gorgeous velvet layer to “All Bad.” Her voices pairs so well with J.I.D’s, there’s a romantic interplay between their parts on the song.
The album also has a nice narrative moment with “Hereditary” into “All Bad.” These two more soulful tracks have J.I.D in his feelings and tell a quick story of heartache. His dips into singing aren’t overly sentimental and are the best displays of his artistic potential. The richer quality of J.I.D’s voice on “Hereditary” makes that track one of the most boundary pushing on the album. The real shame is that only two tracks on the album explore the gentler sound J.I.D is capable of. There was also room for one or two brighter tracks to break up the slowdown in the middle of the project.
The Never Story establishes a great picture of where J.I.D is at and where he can go with his sounds. The project is simply strong. His voice was undoubtedly made for rap. If he wasn’t on the map already, J.I.D certainly is now. I would love to see him experiment with brighter cuts and more smooth songs as his career progresses on Dreamville. There’s no reason to sleep on this debut because J.I.D has a long career ahead of him.