Leonardo DiCaprio is regarded as one of the most prolific actors of this generation. Known to be selective with his projects so he would stand out and grab eyes. While some of his projects were blockbusters, he focused on the gold more than the dollar. On DiCaprio 2, J.I.D attempts to command ears everywhere to go for that very prestige.
Since March 2017, J.I.D came into the spotlight with his debut album, The Never Story. Dreamville’s golden child was deemed the next superstar from critical praise. Not wanting to rest on last years laurels, November 26th, also JID’s birthday, we saw the release of this gem. Teaming up with DJ Drama for a Gangsta Grillz project, he continues the legacy many have made in the legendary series. Continuing with the theme from the last project, he starts with “Frequency Change”. Quick little skits that see our main character bored flipping from channel to channel, which could be seen as a foreshadowing of what’s to come from the project. He is showing every side of himself and all the ability he has. He can do every subject good to great and won’t stop till you call it amazing. Drama, wildlife, romance, and news are reflected until it ultimately lands on the action genre with “Slick Talk”. A slow chant of activation that lets him do what he does best: rip the beat. Before listeners get too comfortable, the channel changes again into something straight out of a sci-fi horror special. The ATLien doesn’t loosen his grip on the haunting instrumental till all the life has left it.
Fresh off the slaughter, JID doesn’t stop and continues to murder on “Westbrook”. The beat sounds like a trap jungle and JID is the king destroying everything in his path. A$AP Ferg with his roar of a hook makes you want to chant along with him. Afterward, we get into the two pre-releases from the album starting with “Off Deez” with J. Cole, who might be delivering his best verse of the year and rarely is Cole in this form unless he wants to prove something. It is reminiscent of 2010 and 2011 Cole. These are records that just continue the momentum from the previous tracks. Each bar is worth a rewind and the MC doesn’t let a second waste once he starts. As the first track stated, he activates and shows us the meaning of going off. While the beats are bangers, they aren’t too complex aside from the bass, JID gives the track new life.
And while braggadocio is the main element of “Westbrook” and “Off Deez”, the album takes a quick turn to not only “talk that talk” but to also talk to you. Drugs, addiction, and violence is the message he isn’t trying to shove or force but discuss. Starting off with the second pre-release “151 Rum”, JID is drunk off of the beat that seems to swell with his cadence. It takes 44 seconds into the track for him to get started but once he does, he spews the bars as if he has to get it out of him. He has to expel all the evil he’s seen and has to let everyone know what he just witnessed from the youths around him. After the night of debauchery and sin, the beat for “Off Da Zoinkys” sings the gospel. “I am so grateful” it belts and provides the background for the survivor of last night’s shenanigans to tell their story. JID takes the church podium and proclaims he’s off the hard drugs. As the drums increase, so does his passion and professes he doesn’t want to be the cause of his own or friend’s demise. When the beat reaches its peak, so does he. It’s like the pastor from the church is sweating all over and has his towel in hand because his words have become the holy scripture that is lighting up the hearts of the churchgoers in attendance. The part of the sermon where someone’s grandmother is raising her hand in accordance with the holy word. He isn’t preaching but professing and making his vow to do better: “We almost got into a fight / Like dead-ass fixing to fade em / Maybe I did too much / But I love my n***a I’m gone save em”.
The addict is afraid for what could become of, not only himself but the ones he rode around within Decatur and East Atlanta. He wants to see the success they’re enjoying continuing with all of them still living. You can almost hear a crack in his voice and you can’t help but feel for his loss of life he has already had from it. And yes the rapping performed to tell these stories is done at an impeccable level. It’s the two song stretch that are the brightest lights on the album.
After the sermon, the frequency changes again to relax and turn to smoother beats and flows from the MC. JID lounges and floats on raps to reflect with “Workin Out”. Things may not be going the way he thought after laying down his troubles but its here’s to hoping it plays out nicely until he gets “Tiiied”. He trades in the relaxed flow for melodic sing-raps and blends perfectly blend with R&B guests, 6LACK and Ella Mai. Venting out their frustrations and transgressions until they feel better. It’s certainly a change in musical style but it fits perfectly with the project because, after the intense feelings left from the other tracks, it lets the listener take a well-needed break. To continue the break, we get saxophone induced jazz raps for women on “Skrawberries”. BJ the Chicago Kid provides soulful vocals as JID lets his love for his woman “bury his sins”. From the type of women he likes to his “femi-nem” friends to the ladies he sees go through the “ain’t worth a damn man” phase, it’s all about the lady. It’s done so smoothly that’ll make you want to two-step every time.
After the scent of perfume leaves the room, the ganja smoke replaces it to continue the calm mood with “Hot Box” but the bars aren’t sacrificed for simple weed bars. JID and Joey Bada$$ don’t waste time or flows to be wasted and show their generation has what it takes to stand against the vet, Method Man, as he comes in the room to do what he does best. Body a beat, package up the remains and send it every listener to auditorily witness the mess he just made. He has a standout guest verse next to Cole’s. “Mounted Up” continues the high and lets him get on his horse to rap and play with his flow like it was putty and mess around. After playing, he chooses to tell the street tales of sadness with “Just Da Other Day”. It’s a terrible cycle and it may not seem that but it’s pretty bad. The final note of the album narrative is done with “Despacito Too”. The dark, menacing beat is at it appears and knocks on the best level but what doesn’t get lost in the dark bars he spits. Like channeling the dark feelings from everything that has transpired thus far and putting it into the attitude he uses to rap on the closer. But it’s at the 3: 16-minute mark that the hype flow he goes acapella before he crashes into oblivion. It’s a perfect closer for the project as it leaves you wanting more. There is the bonus track, “Hasta Luego” but truly serves as that it may be a great track but comes more like an encore than actually part of the frequency changes in the album.
This project is one of the best of the year. JID is crafting his legacy and is giving performance after performance to achieve rap supremacy. More than an actor, JID is like the main character in an anime. After a long journey of training and growth, he came back to show what he has learned with new techniques and forms. As the project plays, you hear him growing and getting stronger with each beat. This isn’t the final fight that he has been perfecting his technique for. It’s the prelude. He’s merely showing off what he’s got and it’s the appetizer to something even greater he has coming up his sleeve. The Wolf of Wall Street before The Revenant that lets him get that gold he is showing he is capable of holding. But for the time being, the prelude is damn good and will make you anxious for what is coming next.
DiCaprio 2 can be found here:
Tyler Jones is Staff Writer with Dead End Hip Hop. You can tweet at him here