Review Summary: better days, forever
What's fascinating about The Forever Story
is that it does exactly what its title implies and reframes the narrative of The Never Story
. The album cover is the most obvious clue to the plan here, an eye-catching image which is functionally the one on JID's debut album given human dimension and texture. Almost all the major stops along JID's personal history - his older brother's stint in jail, the passing of his grandmother, the loss of the football scholarship which kickstarted his rap career - are readdressed here with a clearer eye, a more rounded worldview and a significant increase in the quality of his lyrics. Even The Never Story
's offbeat, slightly sardonic "Doo Wop" intro becomes something truly optimistic in the sweetly sincere "Galaxy".
All the characteristics of JID's music appear in full force: the attention-grabbing beat switches equalled only by his effortless changeups in flow, absolutely absurd rhyme schemes and storytelling chops, and features that range from fantastic (Earthgang on their fun shit, a more fired-up Yasiin Bey than we've heard in the better part of a decade and a disarmingly beautiful cameo from James Blake) to the banal (21 Savage and Lil Durk, sounding exactly like you'd expect them to). There's even a similar sequencing to The Never Story
, which dispenses several bangers early on only to slow down for a softer section that, this time around, produces some of the rapper's finest work with the R&B-adjacent "Kody Blu 31" and well-earned maturity of "Sistanem". But while The Forever Story
nominally ends with "Lauder Too", the absolute heater of a sequel to The Never Story
's finale, the actual intended album closer is "2007". Perhaps the most essential piece in the album's arc, the seven-minute opus of dizzying switchups and unexpected progressions tells JID's origin story over a decade-plus real time, and may be his all-time best release. Frankly, the album is lesser without it and YouTube is your friend – but The Forever Story does
still work as presented, a testament to the versatility and resilience of JID's storytelling acumen.
Really, it's the kind of album that an artist could use to make Their Name, and not a minute too soon for a phenomenally talented rapper who seemed stuck on albums that were really just loose collections of songs (sorry, DiCaprio 2
) and heading for the slippery slope of gaming Spotify numbers with features on Imagine Dragons songs. If I were in the mood to anger everybody I'd compare The Forever Story
to JID's good kid, m.a.a.d. city
, less in sonic terms than how it frames the rapper's life as a narrative that's simultaneously curated for the listener's enjoyment, disarmingly sincere, and communicated over absolutely banging beats. That doesn't make the next thing on JID's docket To Pimp a Butterfly
, nor should it – all I hope is what comes next is as fun, idiosyncratic and personal as The Forever Story