When you think of an Atlanta rapper, J.I.D probably doesn’t come to mind. He’s not a lean addict or habitual pill popper. Alongside label head J. Cole, J.I.D is a black sheep on the lam, running far away from any and all hip-hop trends. Despite a healthy amount of buzz, I had my doubts about this project. You should have seen the tweets that graced my timeline. While I do agree that J.I.D is brimming with talent, the comparisons some have drawn make little sense. Other than his debut album The Never Story I hadn’t heard much from him. What I did hear, however, left me wondering what the hype was all about. His first album showed promise. J.I.D’s technical skill demanded some attention, though I exited the debut only minimally impressed. To me, it felt like his music received extra credit simply due to how fast he rapped.
And, by comparison, his flows and delivery stand out amongst his contemporaries. Nevertheless, tracks which featured sturdy song structure and memorable hooks were few and far between. Dude didn’t put me to sleep. So, at least there was that. But he didn’t leave much of an imprint either. On this follow-up, though, J.I.D establishes his presence in hip-hop. This album’s first half threw a monkey wrench into my previous opinions of his music. Despite a cheesy opening interlude, the opening track, “Slick Talk,” sets this party off right. Here he challenges his peers to give a shit about their rhymes. The amount of clever punchlines just in this one song is enough to fill ten SoundCloud rap albums. When given the reins to spit off the chain, J.I.D knocks it out of the park. He also showcases this on promo single “151 Rum,” a hard-hitting fury of intricate rhyme schemes.
Even though the song itself isn’t much of a song at all, J.I.D manages to hold his own. Again, I felt like the general public exaggerated its impact. But I can’t blame people for appreciating hot bars. We need more emcees like J.I.D in the game. Songs such as “Off da Zoinkys” and “Workin Out” prove to me that this Atlanta native wants to drop a classic album one day. Be that as it may, DiCaprio 2 is not that album. Once “Workin Out” ends with a comical skit, this thing almost turns to mush. Aside from the better-with-time ode to gender balance “Skrawberries,” the second half of the project is Snooze McDuck. I do not know how “Tiiied” cleared the final tracklist. Guest artists 6LACK and Ella Mai do a great job of fading into the background. And J.I.D gives one of his least compelling verses to date.
Moreover, this and the instrumental for “Mounted Up” sound like they were made on a beat machine powered by Windows 98. That is what ultimately holds this album back from being as great as everyone says it is. In addition to J.I.D’s less than profound lyricism, his beat selection is vastly inconsistent. “151 Rum,” “Workin Out,” and “Off da Zoinkys” are pleasant to the ear. Yet many of these tracks include either a half-assed mix or a so-so instrumental. Despite having supreme rapping capabilities, those do not save J.I.D’s songs from going in one ear and out the other on occasion. After five or six tracks, I am no longer amazed by the speed at which he raps. As a result, I focus on his hooks and lyrical substance. Here J.I.D’s message remains mostly at surface level. Hazy hooks, forgettable guests, and mediocre beats make DiCaprio 2 solid at best.