“EVERBODY likes it raw,” said J.I.D unintendedly eluding to copulation, while answering a question about his new album DiCaprio 2.
J.I.D was speaking in Rosebank, Johannesburg at Universal Music where the listening session of his album was held on Friday night.
J.I.D released the first DiCaprio in 2015. The name of the EP was an ode to his favourite actor Leonardo DiCaprio, because they both had been putting out quality work in their respective fields, but not receiving acknowledgement for it.
“I was like wow, he doesn’t have an Oscar [award] he’s one of the greatest, and he’s putting out quality work. So this time around, I got a record deal, know what I’m sayin’…due to all the hard work I was putting in. I got a deal, he got his Oscar and I’m like this is perfect timing,” J.I.D said.
The rapper whose real name is Destin Route, said there isn’t going be another DiCaprio album, despite his fondness for the Titanic actor. But what has Leonardo DiCaprio said about his name and legacy being celebrated in this manner by a rapper he doesn’t even know? Not much.
The only time Leo found out about J.I.D and his project, was briefly through Q.Tip when the Dreamville artist was at Tip’s house just three weeks ago to play him DiCaprio 2. Q.Tip sent Leo a video of himself and J.I.D, telling the actor about the young rapper and his project. “Leo texts back in 30 seconds ‘oh thanks Ima check it out when it comes out, but fuck that, are you coming to my party?’ he was talking to Q.Tip -he just changed subjects real fast, so I got a few words from Leo, he knows I’m alive,” said J.I.D which had the whole room in amusement.
The trailer of the 14 track album was shown on the night, prior delving into the actual music. It was an intimate setting, with a manageable audience, who had opportunity to ask the J.I.D anything- the rapper even had time to take photos and have a moment with each of his fans after the listening session. The producer of Never, Underwear and some of J.I.D’s bangers, Christo was stationed behind the sound desk, playing each song on the album.
Most of us in the audience had already heard songs like Working Out, 151 Rum and Off Deez, in the months leading up to the release.
Explaining the track 151 Rum, J.I.D said the intro of the song was partly inspired by a doccie on mind control he watched recently “…it’s literally 20 tracks of me, my homies and home girls literally saying stuff that I want you to hear, I don’t know if you can hear it, but it sounds like a crowd chatter. What I learnt through the documentary, is that all that stuff feeds into your psyche.”
At first listen, the album goes in like a thong, with the trademark bass from Atlanta and with enough bop to accommodate J.I.D’s flow. The second track on the album, Slick Talk had everyone in the room at Universal Music in a craze, especially J.I.D’s second verse where he raps: This the type of shit that have niggas in beef, Dat slick talk followed by some stick talk then sleep, Pissed off, I done took my fifth loss this week, Big dog, I can scratch that shit off like flees, I got a lot of shit to say, but I’ma keep my list short, I know a lotta your favourites not gon’fuck with this part, When I’m done, please know that I was trying to diss y’all, ‘Cause if this is competition, then I’m setting this bar, In my city, who’s with me? I’m in my own lane Jack, Nigga said “J.I.D so flame, I propane rap” I’m from East Atlanta like Gucci and Travis Porter, But my story is similar to the hare and the tortoise
As he did before playing any track off the album, he broke down the story behind it. From the audience’s reaction, you would’ve guessed all types of drugs were being freely given out like candy after he explained what Off da Zoinkys is about. Zoinkys represent drugs, whichever your preference. The joint is a sample from a Rick Ross track, 3 Kings Feat. Dr. Dre and Jay-Z.
Y’all niggas need to lay off the drugs, Some of y’all need to lay off the dope, My niggas getting it straight off the boat, Pure cut, put it straight to your nose, I ain’t nosy, but I know what I know, Mr. Know it all, oh here he go I’m the GOAT, I never go with the flow, Throwing shots boy, blow for blow, I’m the nigga that kick the do’ with the dough
There was a brief unfeigned moment of sadness when J.I.D said Mac Miller was the one who arranged Skrawberries, which was produced by J.Cole, with Masego on the horns. The love song features BJ The Chicago Kid and was supposed to have a verse from Mac-after listening to it, I couldn’t resist the thought of Mac’s hoarse voice on the beat. The album has a fair number of features, some which are unexpected. Like Hot Box with Joey Bada$$ and Mehtod Man- you’d swear all three are native New Yorkers in how J.I.D doesn’t spit like a kat from Atlanta.
J.I.D was in the country for a week, spending some time in Cape Town and at the Kruger National Park. He cried immediately after landing from his flight from China. But what stood out was his sense of black pride and his soul’s satisfaction with being on the continent for the first time. “My whole message is about black plight bro, it’s about being a descendent slave…”
“I cry like a little baby bro, facts. Just because it was so beautiful, I didn’t expect this shit to look like this; they don’t teach us this shit in school, they don’t tell us about how beautiful this is, they only give us the negative. I’m not opposed to anything, I’m just super pro black. I fuck with all races, the minorities and the majorities, but at the same time I’m about this shit right here (pointing to his skin).”
DiCaprio 2 officially came out yesterday, a day after J.I.D performed at an event in Joburg, which Masego was supposed to headline too but was stranded in Europe.
There’s that scene in Love Jones where Darius Lovehall recites a poem, which was an ode for Nina Mosely at the Sanctuary, the poetry and jazz club that the two met and frequented often with friends.
As soon as Pieces of A Man was in my earshot, it was as though I could see and smell the clouds of smoke in the club, waitresses taking countless orders from those fortunate to get a seat at one of the few tables in the big room filled with those with the proclivity for bohemian vibes.
Depending on the performer, the entertainment value in poetry sessions can be equal to that of a simple book club. But this album is a gesture to Mick’s days as a poet in the poetry collective, Young Chicago Authors. He opens with a sonnet on Heron Flow setting the scene for the whole album, then the joint takes a soulful funk twist with some singing by Julien Bell.
Pieces of A Man displays Mick’s evolution as a young black man as well as an artist which excites me, that he’s only 27 years old creating such rich music. His bars pack the same truth as a Dave Chappelle joke.
From the jump, I built a connection with the song Ghost, one because of the beat that break so nicely on Mick’s flow and two, the content and his brash delivery. He hints at being a recluse who isn’t too concerned by superficial stuff that come with the fame because ultimately, he knows his worth.
N define worth to me,
’cause I won’t win the trophy
I been watchin’ it closely,
All that glitter’s just garnish
And I’m more partial to Parsley,
And all the medals will tarnish,
You played your hardest
And they ate your heart out
I found these lines particularly interesting because at age 27, most artists still harbour dreams of winning an award and receiving recognition from dubious industry gatekeepers. But Mick shows that in his isolation and in finding himself as a man, he’s made peace with the fact that he won’t be a celebrated kat like a Kendrick Lamar, not for lack of skill, but because of industry red tape.
One thing that most of us struggle with as we get older, is growing apart from friends that we’ve known for a years. This could be because they aren’t on the same level with you socially, financially and otherwise. He talks to that discomfort in Pull Up. He could’ve done without Grace & Mercy on the project-listening to the song was the equivalent of going to the lavatory during a great show for about a minute and 51 seconds, and then coming back for the enjoyment.
I find Corinne Balley Rae’s music insipid, it’s not about her talent. Her music simply doesn’t stick on me. But I found the Brit quite sexy in this song Consensual Seduction. It was like hearing a singer from my church doing sensual music, and actually finding her attractive. She’s a great feature and a surprising one too. If I had heard the song before she recorded her part, I would bet my life that Mick was gonna rope in a Ravyn Lenae. Soft Porn is another joint I enjoyed, the beat reminded me of Mick’s Get Up Get Down joint from his Waves project. Soft Porn is slower and raunchier.
Mick’s writing is enjoyable to listen to and even read through- listen to Barcelona to get what I mean. I disagree with a friend of mine though, who called me in excitement after the album dropped, to say Mick Jenkins is the lyricist of our generation. He’s an astonishing writer who perfectly puts his vocabulary into good use, but I don’t know who or what that doesn’t allow me to agree with that outrageous statement that he’s the best of our generation. To which includes, Kendrick Lamar, Joyner Lucas, Tobe Nwigwe, J.I.D, Lupe Fiasco and Acidrap Chance The Rapper among the long list. My definition of “this generation” is from around 2006 when the mixtapes went from spittin’ on popular beats, to actually creating bodies of work that can stand next to albums.
Fittingly titled Reginald, Mick displays his pen game and perspective. He places himself as a ruler and one to gives sound counsel on a few things, staying in pocket on the lazy beat, delivering poignant rhymes.
Don’t spend too much time in mirrors,
Reflections will get you cought up,
Connections will get you brought up in conversation,
You basing everything you know about me from moments,
I’m more a compilation of composition, it’s complicated,
I’ve contemplated so many perspectives,
Accommodated my vices, exonerated emotions,
And then I’m copin’ Macaulay Culkin,
I’m trappin’my demons over Bohemian Rhapsody
The theme around poetry is palpable, but Pieces Of A Man is quite complex. Poetry plays the role a conduit in the piecing together the man’s narrative . Gwendolynn’s Apprehension is based on African American poet, Gwendolyn Brooks’ 1959 poem We Real Cool. That Brooks’ words still carry weight as they did when her piece came out almost 60 years ago is telling of how youth, despite era, think they’re beyond reproach and just too cool for school.
BadBadNotGood’s working relationship with the Chicago rapper is a great match. The album’s last track, Smoking Song was sitting alone with Mick, sharing a joint by the corner of the club after he just gave the packed room himself.
Love Jones was a classic film that transcended the time, but unfortunately did not do well in the box office. Pieces Of A Man shares that sentiment of timelessness, I just hope it doesn’t get slept on.
I’m one of those people who, whenever I have a new clothing item, I wear it out. Chances are, I’ll be in this new piece whenever you see me. Maybe it’s an addictive personality I have, or I plainly do not have a big enough collection in my closet.
I’m like that with music too.
Whenever I have a strong connection with a song, it never leaves my playlist as my favourite clothes never depart my body. I just liked the Tribe joint on the new Bas album, Milky Way. On the track he features his boss, J.Cole.
It’s this love song, which celebrates their partners, that hasn’t allowed the chance for other tracks on my playlist. The song is my definition of a feel-good Hip Hop joint, the hook is catchy, the beat has sufficient bounce and the rappers are in pocket.
This is Bas’s third album, after his 2016 release Too High to Riot. Singed under Cole’s Dreamville Company, Bas is part of stable of ill new-age emcees led by Cole. He isn’t the best lyricist as J.I.D or Cozz, but Bas can make good music. Feel good music.
The Queens, New York native is in a good place in life and that’s the general feel of the album. It’s celebratory and affectionate. I can’t say there’s great improvement or growth from the previous album. But like his previous work, there are songs with definite replay value. The similarities between the albums is frighteningly palpable.
One of my favourites, Barack Obama Special could fit well on his previous project. The tone of his voice, sounds good on sad, laid back music.
The rapper sounds apprehensive as he has self-introspection on Barack Obama Special, talking about his successes and the challenges he goes through as an artist in the industry, taking care of his family and his boys and all that comes with where he is, in life right now.
His flow is monotonous, which limits him to doing other things with his voice. Also, I get the sense that he’s a bit of a lazy writer or just economical with his bars. But it’s bothersome because you never quite get enough of who he is on his tracks. On Tribe, I think he should’ve spit another verse after Cole.
For a Sudanese young black person, born in Paris, raised in Queens, who was addicted to drugs and now is touring the world from rapping-I expect more colourful stories from him. That’s the growth I felt this album lacked. Gets to a point where it sounds like interlude music. A stronger Bas on the raps and storytelling, could be the equivalent of an Isaiah Rashad.
What Bas did differently in this project though, is his beat selection or just the incorporation of House or up tempo beats on some tracks. Not being a House fan, you can’t begin to imagine my irritation, brought by those few tracks. I was livid when Spaceships + Rockets came on. I thought someone sneaked in and added shit to my playlist. But annoying as it was, I think Moe Monks and MOma+Guy vocals are killer dope.
His choice of features was spot on. Stablemate Ari Lennox on Icarus was just fresh as the air in the early hours of the morning on the song. A$AP Ferg is killing the features this season, he seems to serve his purpose on every track he’s on and does so on Boca Raton.
The album is a good listen, but I will stop frequently jamming it like I do with wearing my newly found clothing item, when it doesn’t excite anymore. But I will definitely go back to it once in a while.