What is J.I.D really doing here?

Sure, clearly he’s here to win, playing for more than keeps. The inspiration for his fledgling flagship series (that’d be the one and only Leo DiCaprio, folks) is more telling: he’s certainly intent on taking his craft seriously, but beyond that? To date he hasn’t shown much more than unrefined desire.

DiCaprio 2 arrives in the hopes of changing all that. Alas, beyond his drive and a desire to rap really, really well, J.I.D, real name Destin Route, still seems to be lacking a single idea entirely his own.

Beyond a certain snarling Raekwon & Ghostface skit, all that can naturally come to mind listening is one thing: imagining every single bar in another (rather omnipresent) rapper’s tone.

Perhaps you’re beginning to feel like a J.I.D fan. It’s understandable, he certainly isn’t without technical ability, after all. I’ll try and help you snap out of the ruse. Of course, of course, with “that Dreamville money” behind it, the project sounds good enough, but what’s going on beneath that? Clear your mind for a moment, close your eyes, and ponder this most simple of questions.

Can you picture every single word of DiCaprio 2 in Kendrick Lamar’s voice, without having to try?

Yes, yes you can. Right on down to the background vocals and ad libs (“wait.” on ‘Off da Zoinkys’, every other sound out of Route’s mouth).

Every inflection, every word, even nearly every concept feels lifted from rap’s reigning King’s playbook. It’s a haphazard mixture of TDE’s figurehead circa Section.80, with a big heap of Good Kid and a smattering of To Pimp a Butterfly, just for good measure. To not even mention an attitude towards feminism lifted from two damn bars in ‘HUMBLE.’ In fact, J.I.D’s seeming one contribution to the Lamar formula is to twist that “ass with some stretch marks” ethos, already questionable then, into something far uglier: “Girl you perfect without that make up or the plastic surgery / I’ma tell you how it is like Ron Burgundy.” Not touching that one. In short, whenever J.I.D does try to differentiate himself, he can’t yet even get off the ground.

Attempting to go through his scribbled copycat of a playbook in detail is a futile exercise, as we’d be a starting a novel length bullet point treatise. Even the glossy, lifeless production is like paint over brittle glass, failing to conceal limp styles snatched from just about anywhere and nowhere at once.

This is the guy y’all are gassing? Even a playful Method Man verse can’t quite breathe life into this thing. Rappers may well say study the game, but J.I.D spent so much time staring he’s forgotten himself in the mix.

To be fair, if you’ve ever ventured into Lamar’s work in his earliest K.Dot days, he himself had ability in spades without all too much originality. J.I.D has time.

Unfortunately, the key difference here weighs heavily. For whatever reason, hive mind hype, as easily overexcited as ever, has already chosen to force “next GOAT” level hype and pressure on a figure not even slightly ready for the title. Route is going to be forced to find his voice with a massive audience already watching, and I don’t envy him for it.

In the end, he really does remind of ol’ Leo: obviously very gifted, but was winning the Oscar really that important? Rap hype is J.I.D’s Academy, both all too willing to arbitrarily revolve between rejection and adoration. What are these standards you’re even holding yourself to? Maybe consider finding something that really means something to you before biting, whether it be into a liver or Kendrick’s style. DiCaprio 2 is a heavy helping of technicality, signifying absolutely nothing.