Now this year, I’ve talked a lot about past and present XXL Freshman in these reviews, and while the artist du jour is on the list this year, I’m about to talk a bit about the label he is on: Dreamville, which includes artists like Bas, Cozz, Ari Lennox, Earthgang, the head leader of the label, J. Cole, and today’s artist: J.I.D.
I admit that while Cole’s work has never impressed me, I can’t judge the whole label based solely on him. With that said, given what I’ve heard from J.I.D. (his XXL freestyle and the cypher he did with Ski Mask the Slump God, sampling some of his earlier works like The Never Story and his EP, the first DiCaprio), I think the guy is a damn good lyricist and can flow his ass off with the best of them.
In the lead-up to this album, the singles “151 Rum” and “Off Deez” gave me a good impression (especially the latter with that J. Cole feature), and I was eager to see how the album would turn out. In addition, going into it, J.I.D. described DiCaprio 2 as “a clusterfuck of stories” that feels like “an individual film,” and I definitely got that feeling after listening to it a few times.
He goes on with content such as the come-up: more money meaning more problems, his status in the rap game, overcoming his drug abuse, relationships with women, etc. J.I.D just goes crazy on the mic with all these and has a lot of say, even if the song doesn’t require him to do much. “Slick Talk” was a good starter to the album with J.I.D. spitting about his rise to the top of the rap game, not trying to sugarcoat his intentions.
Maturation, process, rap game too saturated
Grab your lady, masturbation on her face
A acne patient acting patient, so complacent
Comfortable, a basic bowl of shit
Hold my own, I own my dick
Go shaloma unpredictable
And roll with the clique and fold with big clips
Ya’ll know I feel activated when I came in this bitch
Claiming the 6, I don’t care about being famous and shit
I was a bad little never had, nigga get the bag
“Westbrook” deals with loyalty to ones’ family and friends, and while the subject matter is good, the beat is only okay for the most part, and A$AP Ferg’s contribution to the hook leaves you wanting him to do a verse on here instead or just not have him on there at all. “Off da Zoinkys” is his anti-drug anthem, more likely about getting off the Xans and lean, a.k.a the stuff that’ll cost you your ass like so many rappers before.
On “Tiiied”, we have J.I.D. and 6lack go on about how the women in their lives are being unreasonable and standoffish; however, what saved that song is the final verse from Ella Mai offering her POV as the women on how they’re insecure about themselves.
Then there’s “Skrawberries,” and yes, it’s the old ghetto way of saying ‘Strawberries’ (believe me, I know). On one hand, I did like the production courtesy of J. Cole and Mac Miller (who was helping on the project before his untimely death), and BJ The Chicago Kid’s hook was great and soulful. However, on the other hand, some of the lines from J.I.D. are very cringe-inducing, with one example being “the girl got a couple of abortions, now the pussy’s a haunted house.” Oh, and this:
But niggas think that you feminine when you sensitive
My home girl rap, and she feminist
Hold it down for the women, I call her “Feminem”
Okay, I get how the song is all about women’s empowerment, and I’m up for that, but man, that line is just bad. In addition, thank you for reminding me of a rapper I’ve gone sour on in recent years… and wasn’t “Feminem” used as a diss by Ja Rule back in the day? A failed diss maybe, but still. “Hot Box” is another dope track with backup from Method Man and Joey Bada$$, and it’s all about filling up the room with that weed smoke, and the two features bring solid verses all around. Another interesting track on the album is “Despacito Too” (no, it’s not the sequel to that song). However, he does rap about what he’s trying to accomplish in his career, overcoming the obstacles and even how earlier in his life, people joked about him trying to be a rapper.
All-in-all, DiCaprio 2 is pretty good. It may not be album of the year material to me, but this has its place in rap music. J.I.D. showcases his rapping skills alongside some switch-ups in production that have him doing more than just rappity-raps, and while some of his bars can be hit and miss, it’s still a manageable hip-hop album. Hell, it’s the first time I liked something out of the Dreamville camp (although I don’t know much about the rest of the artists there), and I liked what he brought to the table. Oh, and one more thing I forgot to mention earlier: he had a track called “EdEddnEddy” on his previous album. You’re welcome.
Final Verdict: Stream It. J.I.D. delivered a solid sophomore album and is worth a peak.
Dicaprio 2 is available on Spillage Village/Dreamville/Interscope Records via CD, streaming services and digital download.