«Forever can’t be too far away from never» is the first sentence of ‘The Forever Story’, the album with which JID has managed to take his art to a level it had never reached before. The album that closes the circle started in 2017 with ‘The Never Story’ does not innovate, but takes the familiar to its maximum potential and distances itself from everything that can be considered ordinary or lazy. It’s cohesive, versatile, thoughtful, digital, analog, deeply inspiring and more than proves that JID is one of the best MC’s of the moment.
JID isn’t afraid to openly express its influences, of which we find hints here and there throughout the tracklist. The storytelling ability and melodic sensibility of André 3000, the impossible multi-layered rhymes of Kendrick Lamar or Jay-Z, and the explosive sampling of Kanye West at his most vulnerable are traits sprinkled throughout the album. Even he himself admits in ‘Stars’ that he wanted to be like all those mentioned. However, the 31-year-old American does not err with cheap copies.
JID sounds even hungrier than before he signed to J. Cole’s record label, exposing his refined skills to his audience in the form of storytelling, bangers, and calmer tracks where he steps out of his comfort zone and dares to sing. ‘Kody Blu 31’ is one of the most surprising songs on the album, precisely because of the latter, and one of the highest points in his entire discography. Another of the more melodic songs is ‘Can’t Make U Change’, an infusion of R&B and soul with modern overtones conducted by Ari Lennox whose song is reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar’s uncomfortable ‘We Cry Together’, but presented in a much more subtle way.
‘Crack Sandwich’, on the other hand, is a classic track with a beat that could have been lifted from Raekwon and Ghostface Killah’s ‘Only Built For Cuban Linx’. The strong point of this theme is the storytelling of the third verse, which JID begins with the enumeration of each and every one of his six brothers and sisters, and develops it by telling how they ended up in the middle of a massive fight that ended with them in the back of a police van (“We’re like a gang, mom and dad are probably proud and embarrassed”). In this song, the third on the album, one of the key themes of ‘The Forever Story’ is introduced along with self-improvement: love for family, both blood and chosen. ‘Bruddanem’ and ‘Sistanem’ are two complementary songs, but very different, that appear next to each other on the tracklist and that appeal to these two sub-themes within the “family” sphere. The second of these, dedicated to JID’s sister, also includes a surprise appearance by James Blake.
The question of self-improvement is glimpsed in songs like ‘Dance Now’ or ‘Money’, but the one that best reflects it is a song of more than 7 minutes that is not on streaming services. However, it is the song with which JID I always intended to finish the album. It has taken more than two years to finish it and if it is not on the platforms it is due to problems with the samples, which it has quite a few. The song in question is ‘2007’ and the JID himself tweeted that it is essential to “understand the whole story”.
Basically, ‘2007’ is an origin story where JID looks back over his entire life. He spans 10 years, from 2007 to the release of his first album, using J. Cole’s early projects as temporary markers, and he doesn’t even run out of bars. Cole himself ends the album with a few words about the time he met JID, and how he realized that JID “not only wants it, but he’s willing to do the work it takes to get it.”
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