The RX is Uproxx Music’s stamp of approval for the best albums, songs, and music stories throughout the year. Inclusion in this category is the highest distinction we can bestow, and signals the most important music being released throughout the year. The RX is the music you need, right now.
Music fans, in general, are given to the tendency of comparing a newer artist to an older one. They do so to provide a frame of reference for comparison and to determine how good the new artist is — or isn’t — at conveying a specific emotion, style, idea, or vibe. It’s natural and only human; after all, many evolutionary psychologists seem pretty convinced that there were good and sound, survival-based reasons for us to compare things we don’t know yet to things we do, to avoid poison and predators and the like. If that’s really the case, Destin Route, better known as JID, is the ultimate rap predator, the likes of which the game has never seen before.
It’d be ridiculous and insulting to compare JID to any other rappers now because JID, to put it simply, sounds like JID — he is one of a kind. Any comparison just breaks down at the slightest examination. To insinuate that he sounds like Kendrick Lamar is to ignore his unique approach wordplay, his singular story. He’s capable of twisting and distorting the rules of rap, like other Atlanta experimentalists Young Thug, or even Andre 3000, but he’s clearly much more heavily invested in proving he can straight up rhyme than either, whether it’s over traditional trap or boom bap alongside Method Man and Joey Badass. On his latest album, DiCaprio 2, JID’s only concern is setting himself apart from every other rapper by proving that not only can he do it all, he can do it better than just about anyone else.
For JID, rap is a superpower, but it’s also his most valued skill, one he’s honed through intense practice and single-minded dedication. There are times in his verses he barrels recklessly, relentlessly through a barrage of cascading rhymes that almost feel like they’re running away from him and he’s scrambling madly to keep up. “Off Deez” featuring JID’s Dreamville label boss J. Cole is a prime example; JID shifts gears from midtempo to lightspeed, weaving herky-jerky through the frenetic, waspish Chasethemoney beat. But then you realize, he’s controlling all that chaos, directing it exactly where he wants it to go. It’s a bewildering experience, but one the listeners is likely to experience a joyous rush of adrenaline from. The roller coaster of rhymes is one you can barely wait to ride again.
His gifts are apparent in the way JID contorts and stretches his voice, contracting and expanding syllables and the spaces between them. “Slick Talk,” playing the role of the firebombing intro, displays this gift early. Wrangling with every last molecule of air in Kenny Beats’ constantly transforming soundscape, the East Atlanta wunderkind compares himself to some of the most recognizable names from his hometown, then sets himself apart, all in the space of a few, swaggering bars:
“In my city, who’s with me? I’m in my own lane, Jack
N—- said, “J.I.D. so flame, I propane rap”
I’m from East Atlanta like Gucci and Travis Porter
But my story is similar to the hare and the tortoise”
Thematically, he tackles familiar subjects such as drug abuse — a favorite of other Atlanta spitters like Gucci, Future, and Young Thug, but where they’ve often merely hinted at the negativity associated with the disease, allowing the bleakness of their straightforward observations to convey an undercurrent of hopelessness (see: “Perkys Calling”), on “Off Da Zoinkys,” JID states his case plainly. “I’ma fall back sipping the lean / I gotta make sure my vision is clear / Oh God, no, it’s not what it seems.” He waxes nostalgic on the creeping trap takedown “Just Da Other Day,” sharing his straightforward mission statement: “I’m tryna get my f*cking goals, not Goyard / Paying for the lawyers, get my bros out the courtyard.” He’s not here to stunt, he’s here to save the day. If that’s not superheroic, what is?
DiCaprio 2 is a masterclass in the good things that happen when an up-and-coming talent takes the game seriously enough to work on the skills. JID’s one of those rappers who’d be compelling on his own; his story, voice, and charisma are all enough to make him a star almost by default. But hard work trumps talent every time — knowing this, JID puts in the effort to prove that he can go toe-to-toe with the best. When talent meets that level of dedication and focus, the difference is crystal clear. JID isn’t just one-of-a-kind, he’s the blueprint for the next generation of preeminent talent in the rap game. It’s a high bar to clear, rappers. Get to work.
DiCaprio 2 is out now via Dreamville and Interscope. Get it here.