The Forever Story by JID | Album Review
The Atlanta native strikes gold once again on his third studio album
While his big claim to fame as of now is a feature on Imagine Dragons’ song “Enemy”, JID has delivered a handful of well-crafted records in his career. His 2017 Dreamville debut The Never Story broke him out of the underground. DiCaprio 2 was released the following year and cranked JID’s rapping and lyrical abilities up to the fullest, opting for a Gangsta Grillz-Esque mixtape full of bass-heavy bangers (“151 Rum”) and consciously aware anthems shedding light on current affairs in hip-hop (“Off Da Zoinkys”).
Aside from his contributions to Dreamville’s Revenge of the Dreamers III and Spillage Village’s Spilligion, we wouldn’t get any new solo material from JID for quite some time. This radio silence would finally come to a halt with his newest album The Forever Story. Over 15 tracks, JID proves to us once again why he is leagues above his contemporaries. Pushing his rhyme scheme and flows to its limit over some of the best beats he’s rapped on. Acting as his origin story, TFS explores JID’s familial ties, his home of Atlanta, and the culture surrounding him.
From a production standpoint, TFS taps into JID’s trademark style of trunk-rattling boom bap and melodic, soul-influenced rap. Handled by the likes of Christo, James Blake, and J.Cole to name a few. Similar to his Spillage Village brethren Earthgang, the album revels in its inspiration from Southern hip-hop, beats range from the high-energy bangers of “Surround Sound” and “Just In Time”, to the slow, slinkier sounds of “Can’t Make U Change” and “Better Days”.
Delivery-wise, JID knocks it out of the park once again. His flow and cadences throughout the album are damn near impeccable. A handful of songs feature a sudden beat change halfway through, and the way JID instantly matches his flow is seamless. Such as in the second half of “Crack Sandwich” where the beat suddenly slows down to a grittier tempo to let JID blow off some steam. JID also does a fair amount of singing, his singing has improved quite a bit compared to previous efforts. He croons with a soft-spoken tone on songs like “Kody Blu 31”. His voice acts as another instrument entirely and adds more to the song’s lush atmosphere.
Wordplay is JID’s forte and he does not disappoint. His penmanship is what makes him stand out among this “new school” of rap and the reason why his music is loved by die-hard hip-hop purists. Expect to hear plenty of double entendres and frequent alliteration among other surprises throughout The Forever Story. bars like the Ja Morant shout-out on “Dance Now”: (“You know Imma rant when I talk to Jah”) or the nod to Infinity War on “Raydar”: (“With my.9, I’m like ten Avengers. Snap a finger, I could end adventures.”) will forever live in my head rent-free.
The guest list on The Forever Story is great as well. Dreamville cohorts Earthgang and Ari Lennox come through on “Can’t Punk Me” and “Can’t Make U Change” respectively. Rap’s leading mainstream stars Lil Durk and 21 Savage make an appearance. Initially, I was hesitant to see how well they’d mesh with JID’s sound but they work surprisingly well. Even rap legends Lil Wayne and Yasiin Bey show up towards the album’s end, offering their own nuggets of wisdom.
Thematically but more so lyrically, The Forever Story is centered solely on JID as he reveals more about his life growing up in Atlanta. The culture he became accustomed to and more importantly, his family permeates the album. JID offers extremely detailed experiences about his younger days, focusing on the relationship he has with his parents and siblings on “Crack Sandwich” to start. He recounts how violence seemingly held them together like glue as he reminisces about how he and his siblings got into an altercation at an Atlanta nightclub with joyful glee: (“So beautiful, beating ass was like a family thing
Fighting together made us tighter in spite of how we would argue and scream.”). His storytelling throughout the track is laced with so much nuance, making you feel as if you were there in the moment with him.
JID juxtaposes the ride or die mentality he has for his family and friends that he expresses through “Bruddanem” with the heartbreaking struggle of trying to mend matters with a distant relative on “Sistanem”. Each verse explains how his rise to fame caused JID to lose his relationship with one of his sisters. Professing that despite his absence because of his career, he still wants them to acknowledge him as their kin: (“Meet me in the flesh and you can see that I’m still lil’ Destin. Lil’ brubbie, lil’ BB, bald head as a baby in the Huggies.”). Only to be sent to their voicemail as the song comes to an end. “Can’t Make You Change” picks up the pieces as JID comes to the conclusion that he may not be able to change his own ways to mature and grow as a person.
JID’s come up plays a prominent role in most songs on the album. A theme prevalent throughout “Can’t Punk Me”. He alongside Earthgang detail their upbringing trying to make a name for themselves in the rap game amidst the dangerous mentality they became accustomed to growing up in Atlanta. The triumphant “Money” symbolizes JID’s mindset of making riches as he reflects on his poor upbringing, something that has humbled him as he’s gotten older.(“Y’all sit down and say y’all grace because we ate so many bologna sandwiches as a child, I’d kill for one of them shits if I could have one right now.).
The Atlanta native’s goal to continue striving in his career take center stage in the soulful ballad “Kody Blu 31”. Repeating the mantra “swang on” throughout the song’s chorus, alluding to his passion to accomplish his rap goals. “Just In Time” provides the perfect boost of confidence for JID, assisted by Lil Wayne both artists boast their bravado in designer clothes and a no-nonsense attitude. The eerie “Stars” harkens back to the JID’s earlier days as he wants those around him to see him as the artist he aspires to be. Yasiin Bey comes through in the song’s second half to offer a glimpse of just how legendary of an artist JID can become if he puts his mind to it.
The album ends with “Lauder Too”, now feeling he’s at a high point in his career, JID uses the final song to inspire those around him to become better: (“But now you gotta do what you can and can’t abuse your power, let’s come up with a plan and we pursue and devour.”). While this final track is an incredible ending to The Forever Story, the album’s true ending comes in the form of “2007”. The Youtube exclusive track brings the album’s story to a close as JID alongside his father and J.Cole reflect on the artist’s career since his youth. It uses various albums such as Kendrick Lamar’s Section 80 and his own Dreamville debut as key points of where he was mentally in his life. I highly recommend listening to the full 7-minute magnum opus within the context of the album.
Overall, I am thoroughly impressed with The Forever Story. Billed as his third studio album, JID blew all of my expectations away with the latest project. The production caters to the style of his past projects and builds upon them nicely. His flow, delivery, and wordplay on the album are remarkable, and I’m pretty sure there are still a number of lines that went over my head. Lastly, the album’s focus on the Atlanta rapper and its ability to uncover key aspects of his life have had a lasting impression on me, even after multiple listens.
This is probably the first rap album I’ve heard this year that has clicked with me almost instantly, which is why among the previously mentioned aspects I believe The Forever Story earns a strong 9, maybe a slight 10/10 in my opinion. This may very well be 2022’s essential rap album to listen to, and one I’d recommend to newcomers and longtime fans of JID like myself. It’s certainly an album I have as my contender of AOTY at the moment. JID has struck gold once again with The Forever Story, will he be able to do it again in the future? Only time will tell.
Final Rating: 9–10/10
Favourite Tracks: Everything. Point blank period.
Stream The Forever Story by JID: Apple Music | Spotify