J.I.D - 'DiCaprio 2' Album Review
It's rare that an up-and-coming artist impresses me the way J.I.D did on his 2016 album The Never Story. Not only did J.I.D provide some stark cultural commentary and whip-smart bars on The Never Story, he displayed himself as one the best rappers in modern hip-hop. I think there's quite a big distinction to clear up when I say 'rapper', take Travis Scott for example, musically, he's one of my favourite artists right now but I would be lying if I said he was one of the best 'rappers' of our generation. When it comes to the actual skill of rapping, in my eyes, J.I.D's flow, speed and overall technical ability is difficult to match right now. After such a fantastic display of skill I was hoping that he would match that on DiCaprio 2 with a little more emphasis on storytelling and interesting concepts. With DiCaprio 2 J.I.D shows off once again that he can spit his heart out with some of the most insane flows I've heard in the past few years, throw that in with a few interesting concepts and a handful of brilliant features and you've got another fantastic release from the Atlanta rapper.
Opening with the fantastic 'Slick Talk' J.I.D sets the bar for DiCaprio 2 high as he has some choice words for the rap industry as he warns his fellow rappers about his rise to fame. With Kenny Beats on production, my personal pick for producer of the year, the first half of the song features a sinister trap-inspired beat before transitioning into the grimy and boom-bap second half produced by E Wonder. There's no doubt that J.I.D can spit and at this point he doesn't really have to show us, but he spends the first 4 tracks doing exactly that with 'Off Deez' being potentially one of the craziest songs I've heard all year. J.I.D and J. Cole's speed and flow on this track is actually ridiculous, and when some rappers use speed as a gimmick to disguise actual writing, this is not the case here as both rappers incorporate fantastic rhyme schemes into their incredible flows. Another highlight comes from the first single to DiCaprio 2 in '151 Rum', a song that I loved when it first released and it still holds up in the context of the album, with it's distorted and bassy production courtesy of Nice Rec & Christo, the song remains one of my favourite J.I.D tracks to date.
After J.I.D spends the first 4 tracks showing off his skill we get into some more sombre and lyrical tracks like the gospel inspired 'Off Da Zoinkys' or the tragic and heartfelt tracks 'Working Out' and 'Just Da Other Day'. 'Hotbox', featuring the legendary Method Man and a personal favourite of mine, Joey Bada$$, is a classic 90's east-coast, boom-bap track and 'Skrawberries' is a bouncy and energetic bop produced by the late Mac Miller and J. Cole and featuring some fantastic vocals from BJ The Chicago Kid. Regardless of the brilliant tracklist, I was disappointed by the lack of thematic coherence across DiCaprio 2 as after the skit that kicks the album off, there's very little linking these songs together. And now there isn't really anything wrong with a collection of great tracks that stand on their own but when the name of the album and its cover suggests a cinematic or movie theme that is simply not there, it seems a little strange. It is also worth mentioning that the frequency of bangers to flops on this album is very high but that doesn't mean that every track is perfect as the tracks 'Tiiied' and 'Despacito Too' both feel like concepts rather than tracks as their magic seems to fizzle out before they even get going.
Don't let these criticisms steer you away from this album however, as J.I.D comes equipped with some of the most technically impressive songs of the year alongside some more tender and lyrical moments in the tight 13 tracklist. Despite a few slip-ups, The main takeaway from DiCaprio 2 is to get in on the at ground floor with J.I.D while you can, because pretty soon he's going to be at the top.
Listen to the album in full below: