Early last year, J.I.D took his formal step in the rap limelight with his debut album, The Never Story. The album jolted him to the forefront of rap’s best new lyricists. Afterward, however, various freestyles and features including ones alongside EarthGang (“Meditate“) and Sy Ari Da Kid (“New Malcolm X“), the ATLien soon shouldered his way into the conversation for one of the game’s top lyricists.
With his rise to rap stardom coming after The Never Story, fans, including myself admittedly, were quick to put out our baby grabbing hands, asking for a new and improved follow-up. Twenty months later, J.I.D returns with just that.
As promised, DiCaprio 2 landed onto our DSPs on Cyber Monday and with all the expectations and pressure that came with the album, J.I.D was able to exceed and surpass them all. Not wanting to be selfish, he recruited quite the list of impressive talent for the album: J. Cole, A$AP Ferg, 6LACK, Ella Mai, BJ the Chicago Kid, Joey Bada$$, Method Man and even the late Mac Miller all showed up with their own special individual contributions.
While DiCaprio 2 can be looked at as somewhat of a theatrical affair, I see the album as a mid-distance track race. Kicking things off, J.I.D wastes no time finding his stride, sporting an undeniable level of confidence on “Slick Talk” and “Westbrook.” Working his way to the front, he then hits an incredible stride from “Off Deez” to “Hot Box” that puts him so far ahead that by the time “Skrawberries” comes on you’re worried about being lapped and becoming an embarrassment to your family name. Moving to “Mounted Up” and ending with “Hasta Luego,” J.I.D finishes the race strong, grabbing that first place medal we all expected him to have.
Heading back to the theatrical elements of the album, J.I.D puts on quite the performance on this project. “Stick Talk” sees him as the coaxing villain, delivering a warning shot to the competition as he brushes a sharp blade across their faces, daring them to try him. “Workin Out” boasts a cry of frustration pointing to the period of failures in his life. “I been looking to the stars, keep my head up in the clouds/ Sh*t ain’t really working out,” he claims softly on the chorus.
Moving on to relationships, “Tiiied” and “Skrawberries” serve as two of the strongest points on the album. “Tiiied” has J.I.D, alongside his ATLien sidekick, 6LACK, expressing their frustrations with the women in their lives who they feel are doing too much. Tired of the finger pointing, Ella Mai surfaces at the end to tell the story from the female lens, taking the listener by the hand and gracefully walking them to the track’s conclusion.
“Skrawberries” finds J.I.D and BJ the Chicago Kid acknowledging the issues in their relationships, but at the same time, they point out that no one will hold them down like they will. The hearty track is supported by production from the late Mac Miller, Ron Gilmore, as well as Masego and his sexy sax, Sasha.
J.I.D’s second album reminds me a lot of 6LACK’s East Atlanta Love Letter, where he doesn’t stray too far from the original sound, but you can tell he’s polished his craft. DiCaprio 2 still sports the same well-balanced plate of roughness and smoothness that The Never Story had. But like 6LACK did with his Free 6LACK follow-up, he bumped the overall quality up a few levels.
While the production on this album is amazing (peace to Christo, Kenny Beats, Elite, Wonagurl, and everyone else who contributed), J.I.D is still in his lyrical warfare bag—with the previously-released “Off Deez” and “151 Rum” being the initial evidence, before being reinforced by “Slick Talk,” “Off Da Zoinkys,” “Hot Box” and “Mounted Up.” Who knows, this might make Tory Lanez second-guess bringing all that “anyone can get it” energy to Atlanta.
DiCaprio 2 will be remembered for the well-designed blend of lyrical miracles and stellar production, while J.I.D doesn’t let either side carry the load, serving extremely beneficial in delivering a project worth revisiting (again and again).
Grammy, Oscar, Emmy, Tony, whatever award you wanna pull out, J.I.D deserves them all.