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.