JID should be a superstar in every respect, but it appears that he has a sizeable amount of doubters alongside his droves of fans. The curious and often frustrating assessment of the talented lyricist should be shifted by the conclusion of his aggressive yet soulful third studio album, The Forever Story.
As it stands, JID is one of the best rappers of his generation and has been for at least a decade despite not having a career-defining project that separates him from his peers. Dating back to his DiCaprio EP debut for Dreamville Records/Interscope in 2015, the promise has always been high for the Atlanta artist. JID’s debut album, The Never Story, expanded on his sound and proved that the rapper, born Destin Route, was one to watch. The sophomore effort DiCaprio 2 eclipsed all of JID’s works before it and that brings us to The Forever Story.
As carefully as we can state this, the 31-year-old lyricist has never been able to garner the so-called mainstream fandom garnered by other rappers of his ilk. But if listeners lean into The Forever Story with open ears, they’ll be rewarded dozens of times over. Some of JID’s detractors point to his voice as a point of contention, making exaggerated statements that he sounds like a certain rapper from Compton, Calif. That simply isn’t true.
The Forever Story straddles a fine line of the bar fests from JID’s early days with the Spillage Village collective (EarthGang, Hollywood JB, Jurdan Bryant, Mereba, 6Lack, Benji), and JID’s versatile performances across the Return Of The Dreamers albums and D-Day: A Gansta Grillz Mixtape hosted by DJ Drama.
With tracks like “Surround Sound” featuring 21 Savage and Baby Tate, and “Can’t Punk Me” with Olu and WowGr8 of EarthGang, it’d be easy to expect that the features might drown out the monumental efforts of the album’s main star. This never happens, even on tracks that launch him into melodic terrains, such as is heard on “Bruddanem” featuring Lil Durk. JID is never outperformed.
On “Can’t Make You Change,” Ari Lennox’s stirring vocals bring the track into focus, while Yasiin Bey nearly steals the show on “Stars,” and Kenny Mason, who appears on the album previously via the kinetic “Dance Now,” shows up again alongside a focused Lil Wayne on “Just In Time.”
The album’s closer, “Lauder Too,” is perhaps the album’s strongest track despite not having the preferred formula for a hit single. It’s busy. It’s all over the place. It’s moody and emotional. And truthfully, that explains the entire scope of the album. What it also does is provide context that The Forever Story is a direct sequel to The Never Story, which ended with the track “Lauder.”
While the sequel thing seems to be a gimmick that slightly frames JID’s whims as an artist, it also encapsulates how great of an artist he’s become over the better part of a decade. Time will tell if The Forever Story lands him in larger discussions of greatness that he most certainly belongs in, but until that is revealed, this beautiful piece of art will live on and the world is better for it.
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