Review Summary: Living for the dream
There comes a time in your life when you are left with a decision of which path you must choose. This decision can be difficult, especially when the outcome you want doesn’t coincide with the choice that seems right.Take, for example, your senior year of high school where everyone has this sense of indecision that often times lasts until college years. It can be truly disheartening to discover that you’ve made the wrong choice coming this far into life. As a result, many settle for the path they feel locked into. When listening to The Never Story, it’s easy to see that Destin Route (J.I.D) has been in this position before and can relate to being fickle in choosing a career path. The Never Story
displays Destin coming clean with his rap persona, J.I.D, fully ditching his past life as a college athlete, and coming to grips with where he sees himself in the future. Destin is in the mindset that everyone should aspire for something more significant for themselves and this idea is explicitly clear throughout his debut release.
The personal nature of this album is apparent right from the get go. Tracks like ‘General’, where he speaks primarily about getting kicked out of college, going to his brother’s court dates as a child and talking about his father’s experience in the military. Destin truly lets down his walls, revealing his life of hardship while never asking for help along the way. He discusses his constant struggles to make cash not only to get through hard times but also to make a name for himself and his crew on tracks like ‘Underwear’ and ‘EdEddnEddy’. On his hit single ‘NEVER’, J.I.D explains that he’s “never been shit, never had shit, never knew shit, never out”
, in other words he’s never had money, the proper education, and was never able to go out and buy things like everyone else because he was raised in a poor home.
Hailing from Atlanta J.I.D engages the audience with his southern lyricism, “melancholy cool”
flow, and glossy vocals that do well to blend with the beats presented here. J.I.D not only shines in his relentless bars on tracks like ‘NEVER’ but we are also given dreamily sung vocals on tracks like ‘Hereditary’ that boasts jazzy and bluesy saxophone paired with twinkling piano licks. The beats on TNS
tend to be muted in production which gives mixed results at times but generally pair well with Destin’s vocal delivery.
Childish Major’s hand in production on TNS
is refreshing considering his involvement with many hip-hop artists lately. This includes working with the likes of Vince Staples, J. Cole, Lil’ Wayne, and most notably on single ‘U.O.E.N.O’ for Rocko. What makes Major’s involvement most intriguing is his work on Hereditary, which features jazzy saxophone with trilling piano lines that glide behind Destin’s smooth vocalizations. The funk inspired beat on ‘8701’ combined with the plucking guitar riff pairs well with the lightly auto tuned vocals of 6LACK. TNS
shows Major treading some new territory while maintaining his signature sound.
Where this album lacks is not in J.I.D’s ability but in the somewhat dull production on slow burning track ‘All Bad’ and the occasional repetitive lyric. Although Destin’s vocals on ‘All Bad’ are done well enough, they fail to maintain interest paired over the dull beat which never really pushes the track anywhere. Even songs like ‘EdEddnEddy’ and ‘Somebody’ can seem a bit repetitive lyrically, although this is usually redeemed by some fairly interesting beats and J.I.D’s melodic flow.
Generally speaking, TNS
is a well varied album filled with plenty of promise for the future of J.I.D. You can expect strong vocal performances, plenty of hard-hitting bars, and production that, in essence, serves as a counterpoint to J.I.D’s fairly high-pitched vocals melodies with dark funky beats. If The Never Story
is any signal of what to expect from J.I.D’s future, then many hip-hop enthusiasts should be excited to see where his career will take him.