Main

The Evolution Of Jay IDK

Maryland rapper Jay IDK (IDK for short) has finally found his way into people’s playlists, which according to his song…

Maryland rapper Jay IDK (IDK for short) has finally found his way into people’s playlists, which according to his song “Dirty Scale” probably just saved him from the looming grips of the devil.

IDK broke through to his widest audience yet after featuring on A$AP Ferg’s new single: “Kristi,” and Denzel Curry’s “No Wave” and “Uh Huh.” These big name collabs helped people who were busy snoozing find out about the rapper’s prior work, which when listened to in-depth puts IDK in the running for the next big lyrical voice in hip-hop.

But trying to understand IDK’s style isn’t easy. Throughout his four projects, the rapper has shown how effortlessly he can fluctuate and change. His first mixtape Sex, Drugs, and Homework felt like it was leaning towards 
“turn up music” with songs like “2 Hoes” and features from artists like Jerren Benton. But this project became an introduction to IDK’s inner conflict and most formative life experiences. His next two mixtapes, Subtrap and Empty Bank, contain a few prominent trap anthems like “God Said Trap,” introducing a new feel to the rapper’s trademark storytelling, while his newest album, IWASVERYBAD, delivers on all of these fronts.

IDK forged his way into hip-hop by telling stories in his music and waiting for people to want to hear them. No matter what his subject is, the rapping always reflects his experiences or revelations. This is what stuck out the most to me about IDK. Even when the music transformed to speaking about crime, robbery, and violence, it never became “trap.” The music simply reflected his experiences with the lifestyle. Same goes for Sex, Drugs, and Homework. This mixtape was brutally honest when talking about the painful experience of having to balance education and artistry, and IDK did so in a unique way that differentiated him from artists who talk about lifestyles they don’t live.

The rapper’s newest project: IWASVERYBAD seems to encapsulate everything that IDK was saying in his prior work. It begins with a song that recycles past references to Satan and then introduces the album with choir-like singing and a heartfelt verse describing his transition from a normal middle-class kid to drug dealer turned rapper. This journey is also reflected in the cover art where IDK is stood back to the camera in an orange jumpsuit with a dove perched on his left shoulder. The rest of the album continues weaving this story into its diverse and highly musical production, with some impressive features from Swizz Beats, Chief Keef, and MF DOOM. This project is brutally honest about the rapper’s criminal history but also about his relationship with his late mother. On songs like “No Shoes on the Rug, Leave Them at the Door” and “Black Sheep, White Dove” IDK passionately raps about his family relations and creates a testament to his mother and what she taught him during his life. These tracks beautifully contrast the aggressiveness sprinkled throughout the tape and allowed IDK to show off his lyrical ability as well as his impressive singing skills.

According to IDK, IWASVERYBAD was released by Adult Swim after he reached out to the channel’s creative director Jason DeMarco on Twitter. Adult Swim is known for partnering with innovative rappers, and apparently, IDK was the perfect fit for their musical pallet.

Jay IDK’s most recent collaborations with Denzel Curry and Ferg have truly elevated him to a new level of rapping ability. He spits bars with whole new energy on these songs, proving to his fans that he is far from the end of his creative development. Now, all we have to do is sit back and wait to see what this promising MC is capable of on future tracks and an album he claims to have just started via Twitter.

Currently obtaining my undergrad for Film & Media Studies in beautiful Tampa Bay Florida, I love hiking, biking, rock climbing, surfing, and most importantly: hip hop. My favorite rapper is MF DOOM and my top writer is Hunter S. Thompson.
Related Articles
#IndieSpotlight, Main

#IndieSpotlight: MusicbyKO “Life In Element” Is The Soundtrack For Pre-Fall Blues

A new LP floated across my desk by an Oakland, California, singer/rapper named MusicbyKO. A warm blend of jazzy 90s…

A new LP floated across my desk by an Oakland, California, singer/rapper named MusicbyKO. A warm blend of jazzy 90s Hip Hop and a cadence reminiscent of acts like Isaiah Rashad. Having shared stages with names like J.I.D. and Earthgang, he appears focused and composed — as evidenced by Life In Element, his new LP.


 
With a very consistent sound, KO slowly unravels a series of tracks that let you into his world just enough — without blatant TMI, or inducing a “yeah right” effect. What listeners get are the tales of a low-level drug dealer (this is both referenced and downplayed at different points), who is taking a chance on a dream, as he slowly but surely uncovers that everything the glimmers isn’t gold, and just because someone calls you brother, it doesn’t mean they have your back — or at the very least even your best interests at heart.

It’s an almost paranoid sense that snakes are roaming the grass that is revisited numerous times throughout the project, like on the song “La La Land,” “Empathy,” and “Let Me Talk With Ya/While I’m Here,” where he notes “I Know niggas right now that want to see me fall.”

He also paints a picture of himself as someone who overextends himself — such as on “Too Much Falls Short,” where he preaches that failing to leave your comfort zone is a fail before even leaving the running block.

That’s just the first few layers of this project; touching on socio-economic issues facing the black community nationwide, and even relationships (see the super dope “Spirit Rise”), he creates a lot of depth. Though the vibe is consistent — almost bordering on redundant — it manages to remain engaging. Also, that instrumental on “A Devil’s Advocate Corner” is a bucket of flame emojis doused in gasoline.

 
Like a bride on her wedding day, Life In Element is something old and something new; all that Hip Hop is dead shit goes out teh window when you hear younger cats with cohesive projects like this. With enough amazing quotables to create a success Instagram daily quote account (“I couldn’t heal in eth place I got sicker”) and an admirable ear for production, MusicbyKO NEEDS to be on your radar. It’s just good for the soul.

Early.

Continue Reading
Main

Video Spotlight: Mean Joe Scheme & Optiks

In this video spotlight, Joe and Optiks discuss the new project, the state of east coast hip-hop, and what to expect from BEAMS. Be sure to check out both singles below, and follow @meanjoescheme and @thisisoptiks on your socials.

NYC artists Mean Joe Scheme and Optiks are putting the finishing touches on BEAMS, their new collaborative project. If “Cannonball” and “Hands Down” are any indication, we’re in for a viscous slice of hybrid hip-hop- a fusion of beats, rhymes, and anxious 2018 energy.

In this video spotlight, Joe and Optiks discuss the new project, the state of east coast hip-hop, and what to expect from BEAMS. Be sure to check out both singles below, and follow @meanjoescheme and @thisisoptiks on your socials.

Continue Reading
Main, Reviews

Eminem: Kamikaze- A Relapse of Epic Proportion

Poor Eminem. He’s damned if he do and damned if he don’t. His last album, 2017’s pop-heavy Revival, flopped by…

Poor Eminem. He’s damned if he do and damned if he don’t. His last album, 2017’s pop-heavy Revival, flopped by way of social media yet wasn’t a total disaster. It moved units and afforded him headlining spots on the summer festival circuit- but it didn’t give the fans what they needed. Or did it?

This conundrum surrounds Eminem’s career. When he’s on there’s only a handful of rappers alive who can compete with his pen and his fury. But when he bogs down projects with introspection- giving us a break from his hyper-aggro screaming at the mic- it feels like we’ve been cheated. Stans can’t deal with the sappy pop-crossovers, and today’s charts simply do not have space for good old-fashioned rap acrobatics. So what’s an aging top-five-dead-or-alive rapper to do?

Marshall Mathers unleashed Kamikaze as his response to the Twitter army (and critics) who condemned him- an unexpected and venomous (although carefully measured) surprise album packed with more syllables than a semester’s worth of English-as-a-second language classes. As we all secretly hoped for, rappers ain’t safe from Em’s verbal barrage of double and triple time bars on Kamikaze, and if you have time to unpack these 13 tracks you’ll find some genuine heat.

Unfortunately, if you really unpack these ferocious bars you’ll find a grumpy old man rapping for the simple sake of reminding us how technically skilled he truly is. The problem is we’ve known that for ages. Reverting back to early 2000’s Eminem complete with the use of “faggot”- his favorite homophobic slur on the otherwise bulletproof “Fall”- does little to contribute to his relevance in 2018.

There are a few maniac standouts on Kamikaze, songs that young rappers should study for the intricate art of word play and cadence (check “The Ringer”, and “Not Alike” featuring Royce Da 5’9). Yet, those lessons are harder to learn when it’s impossible for the listener to catch their breath. For most of the record, Em is in such rapid-fire mode that you absolutely have to run back verses and entire songs to truly digest his messages. Rap nerds and old heads will revel in the task, but is that what the game needs these days? I’d argue no

Kamikaze is a rare full-on barrage of supernatural MC’ing; but it comes and goes without much meaning when the target becomes Machine Gun Kelly-who tweeted about Eminem’s attractive daughter back in 2012. Is there really a hip-hop fan alive willing to side with MGK on this one? And if you’re looking for the most lukewarm, mediocre diss track (possibly ever recorded) check out MGK’s response, “Rap Devil”, a headscratcher that splits its time attempting to discredit Em while simultaneously praising his longevity and abilities. You either want the smoke or you don’t? Like it or not, the whole thing feels like a charade.

Eminem has always carried a chip on his shoulder. When the critics go low, he goes lower. While Kamikaze is far from a low point in what will be viewed someday as a catalog of studio hits and misses, it’s far from the return to form that it was intended to be. He might not be afraid to take a stand, but it’s become tiring trying to figure out exactly who Eminem is standing against.

Continue Reading
#IndieSpotlight, Main

#IndieSpotlight: Noah Wright Is Back With His Latest Visual “Cameras”

Noah Wright is on a run with his latest visual, “Cameras,” and we’re here for it!

27-year-old American Cedar Rapids MC Noah Wright is back with another super dope video treatment. First popping onto our radar back in March with his short film “Valley of the Sun” — and with his super dope LP Love, Noah. From opening for Rakim, Rick Ross, Futuristic and working with Young Money’s very own Cory Gunz, he’s definitely on a run, and we’re here for it.

Relevant: Check out our March 2018 Noah Wright feature

His latest video for his sure-shot single “Cameras” is next level creative. It begins with a plot reminiscent of the iconic episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air when Will and Buddy were trying to be in the BBD video being shot while Phil and Viv were away. In this video, the cleaner keeps trying to be in the shot, interrupting the shoot to the point that Noah storms off. That’s the opening skit, though. As the actual video kicks off, we’re introduced to gorgeous models, a luxury car, and that same interrupting cleaner is playing out a virtual reality plotline that eventually intertwines with his performance shots.

It’s the type of creativity we’ve come to expect from Noah who’s been dropping some fire lately. The short and sweet “El Chapo,” which he dropped back in June, and the intensely powerful visual for “No Room” have been building his profile — his quality is next level.

Check out “Cameras” above, and be sure to follow Noah via Twitter.

Continue Reading
More in Main
EP Review: Diplo – “California”

Admittedly, I’m not much of an EDM guy. Although I can certainly appreciate a dancehall banger in a social environment,...

Close