Outside of the Twitter A&R’s & tastemaker influence The Dreamville brand continues to evolve and grow, where from the early days of Cole & Omen they’ve added Bas, Cozz, Lute, Ron Gilmore & Ari Lennox, the latter two who dropped some of the most underrated projects in the last year. Let’s also go back further and applaud Bas for what’s perhaps the most complete Dreamville project outside of Cole’s own work, and altogether Dreamville is quietly one of the strongest crews in hip-hop period.
Furthermore it’s been true that J Cole himself has expanded and evolved (in spite of the Twitter Writer’s Guild who are determined to collectively insist that he hasn’t), and in the last few years he’s traveled around the world and has been inspired by new outside influences, evident in Jermaine’s Interlude as well as his multiple collaborations with one of Atlanta’s best kept secrets in EarthGang. Meanwhile there’s been another addition to the Dreamville camp who also hails from the ATL, and no he’s not at all reminiscent of the radio friendly Top 40 (although I’m sure he’d welcome the commercial success), but instead more similar to the Big Boi’s and Andre 3K’s that are instead a part of hip-hop royalty.
Of course those would be big shoes to fill, and instead Destin Route was destined to be the first J.I.D., a young MC from the south with a particular sound that can open more doors for Dreamville moving forward.
Without further ado The Never Story is critiqued track by track below, J.I.D.’s debut project on the Dreamville imprint that definitely provides more hope for the future.
“Everyone's a star (everyone's a star), every day's the move (every day is the move), everywhere you are (everywhere you are, for you, for you)” An eclectic intro produced by Sean McVerry and in it’s simplicity it sounds like a proper introduction.
“Friday night lights, I was catching and dropping punts, thinking about rapping, I could be J.I.D or like Chris Johnson, my thumbs keep strumming kinda like the Mumford & Sons, mommy went dumb when she got that call I had got caught, kicked out of college for tongues, ***** be talking, I wasn't even on camera, just hit the lick with some amateurs, glad we did that, now I'm flying to Los Angeles with a 8th in my pre-rolls, call that shit a tarantula” Straight bars over a fire instrumental provided by Latrell James and Oz the Additive, this one showcases J.I.D.’s penmanship as well as his backstory as a football player at Hampton University.
“Never been shit, never had shit, never knew shit, never out never do shit, damn” Dreamville’s latest decided to go with this record as the debut single, and it makes sense considering how he comes out the gate swingin with a flow that’s unrecognizable from anyone else on the roster. As stated above it’s been interesting to see Cole’s latest moves in Atlanta, as he’s stayed away from riding the waves of household names and heavy hitters (Future, Gucci Mane, etc.) yet instead has been collaborating with mostly unknowns (Earth Gang and J.I.D.), once again reiterating why Cole is an original and nothing at all like the rest.
“Me and my two niggas be like Ed Edd and Eddy, I'm Zack, you AC, that Jessie and Kelly, I pull up to your hood just let me know when you ready, I'm rolling up this dub, finna face it, beheaded” Produced by Hollywood JB this one’s more like an interlude but it’s a vibe nonetheless and it’s one of the more memorable records on the project.
D/vision ft EarthGang
“I'm under pressure, smoking pressure, walking in no direction, chalk it up to the devil for fucking with my perspective” J.I.D. & EarthGang on J Cole production… off the strength of that alone it’s a solid album cut.
“I guess it's hereditary, baby, why you playing with my heart? It's heredity girl you was just playing from the start, yeah, but if you let me explaaainnn” One of the best records off the tape., this one produced by Officials is a smooth groove from start to finish, where the Atlanta spitter trades in his tongue twisting raps reminiscent of Kendrick for infectious melodies reminiscent of Drake - and it all makes sense considering whom J.I.D. originally intended the record to be for.
All Bad ft Mereba
“And since I'm trying to tell the truth, it's all bad” Issa vibe… smooth and melodic… I fux with this one completely
“Melancholy cool, Matthew McConaughey, on a money mission tryna get it…” This one’s almost cinematic with it’s clever wordplay and J.I.D.’s delivery is flawless on this, definitely a solid album cut
8701 ft 6lack
“Burn like 8701, Ushered in a new a flow for the old one, her pants too tight, I don't hold no gun, but Jiddy J.I.D bookbag probably hold one” On this record J.I.D. is accompanied by another Atlanta artist in 6lack who arguably bodies J.I.D. on his own sh… nah no reason to go that far and this one’s arguable filler regardless.
“Boy, I be happy with nothing, imagine me if I got it, say if my nine stop busting, imagine me with the shotty, I been pushing this Pontiac, imagine me in the 'Rari, bumpin ‘God's Whisper’ by Raury, probably be with a shorty, it's probably Tuesday night, she probably pull up at Follies, I probably pop me a, nah, she probably pop her a molly, and then she just a hood booger, probably claim she exotic, the only thing that's exotic is all this weed in my pocket, but she fine” Produced by 808 Blake this one is a ride and the hook is official… apparently this one was listed on J.I.D.’s prior release off Dreamville that was titled DiCaprio and came out in early ‘15. Most importantly though is that flow that’s nothing short of immaculate.
“Born to win but born a sinner, and that's word to Jermaine, cold flow, Cole World, but we living the same” All J Cole references in hip-hop are worthy of recognition and this one is simple but effective… (although the best one is still Bas verse in Dopamine - “See Cole he might pop in and go Beast Mode, the new East Coast…”#Dreamville
“Let's get it poppin', they're pulling pistols on apostle Paul, so paid the piper or meet the sniper the legend of the fall, I knew in diapers you and I was nothing alike at all, I do or die, you do it to die, I'm really making calls, you couldn't kill it and take it out of me, the ideology, this the odyssey, I'm Odysseus, you gotta follow me” Speaking of Cole this one is produced by Jermaine himself, and it’s definitely in the same vein as Kendrick as it will take multiple spins for this one to finally resonate, and when it does you’ll have a lot to absorb.
Overall this is a very solid project from Dreamville’s latest signee, and as stated before on a broader level this is Cole’s entry into one of the most influential musical regions throughout the world, the Atlanta hip-hop scene that on a surface level embodies everything that the Fayetteville MC is not. Yet in terms of that OrganizedNoize/Dungeon Family/GoodieMobb sound? Yea I think anyone but a hater would want to see Cole experiment and expand his sound with those type of creatives, and at the moment J.I.D. (along with EarthGang) seems like the calm before the storm as well as the potential start to something special.