JID - The Forever Story
Image 1 courtesy of Naskademini.
Sitting at 15 tracks spread over 59 minutes and 12 seconds, The Forever Story by JID gives us so much without overstaying its welcome. It was released on August 26th, 2022. I classify this album as Hip hop, although it veers in so many directions, taking influence from multiple genres and creating a rich pool of sounds. The Atlanta native uses his emcee abilities, along with the aid of other artistic techniques to build an immersive soundscape, all telling one giant story.
The project gives us a vast collection of stories: fighting to defend his sister outside a club in New Orleans, having to go to his friend’s house super early in the morning every day to catch the bus, eating bologna sandwiches, wearing hand-me-downs for days on end, partying and playing in college and thus having to figure things out himself, and so much more. He does an incredible job of recounting these deeply personal, impactful memories; mixing them in like paint, and using his vocals as a brush to create one beautiful, cohesive “piece”. The album brings up several heavier topics that are much bigger than Hip hop. It does so in a way that is real and derived from personal experiences, rather than mere opinion. Some of these topics include gun violence, financial hardship, and systemic racism. By incorporating the sonic and lyrical elements that he does, he creates this bigger picture of how he is finding his way through these obstacles and fighting to help others do the same. The album cover, created by Naskademini, is a brilliant display of this; it is a true testament to the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”. The production on the album is phenomenal as well, synchronizing very well with JID’s vocals and elevating this “piece” to the next level; acting as a mixer and making it even more cohesive. Containing dozens of different sound slices that incorporate elements of Gospel, RnB, Southern Hip hop, Funk, and EDM. It is amazing; truly creating a sound that is unique, genuine, and culturally driven. JID’s flow (specifically the switches) and delivery on the project is wild, take it from this tweet by HipHopNumbers:
JID also does immaculate vocal work, giving us some deliveries that are pain-driven, some energetic, and others that are in between or completely different. He also does some wonderful singing on the tracks “Kody Blu 31”, “Stars (feat. Yasiin Bey)”, “Better Days (feat. Johntá Austin)”, and “Lauder Too (feat. Ravyn Lenae & Eryn Allen Kane)”. Speaking of, the features on this album are amazing, each bringing a distinctive style and perspective to the table. This works to make the aforementioned “piece” even more encompassing. The music videos for The Forever Story do an excellent job of showing us authentic examples of what he is talking about and touching on these heavier topics well; again, not telling us what to think, but rather showing us a cinematically-depicted version of what is really going on out there.
Galaxy [prod. monte booker]
The intro to the album. It is beautiful and awe-inspiring, with a very nice melody, deep drums, and an uncomfortable voicemail.
Raydar [prod. Christo, Pluss, Nonstop Da Hitman, Childish Major, 2one2 & Quincy Riley]
A supercharged, hard-hitting banger with some amazing beat switches in it.
Dance Now (feat. Kenny Mason) [prod. Aviad & Christo]
A funky, energetic track with an action-packed music video that shows us what he is talking about in a way that is fun and self-aware. Kenny Mason does wonderful vocal work on this track.
With a dismal, thumping beat and some eventful skits, this song is about his experiences with poverty and violence, as well as a story about a student-athlete he knew and his struggles. It also describes a street fight at a club that he was involved in.
Can’t Punk Me (feat. EARTHGANG) [prod. KAYTRANADA & JD Beck]
A high-energy, dope track that describes his come-up. EARTHGANG drops some wonderful bars on this one.
A wavy-lit one with some textbook performances from 21 Savage and Baby Tate and a cold beat switch. This one also has an ultra fun and trippy music video.
A moody, blue piece that still has an uplifting factor about it, shining through the pain.
A soulful, rooted cut about loyalty. Lil Durk delivers a smooth verse on it.
Sistanem [prod. Hollywood Cole, Christo & Yuli]
A funky, emotional track about JID’s relations with his family, his lifestyle, and their intersections.
Can’t Make U Change (feat. Ari Lennox) [prod. Elite, Christo, Bass Charity & A.J. Hall]
A vibey, RnB-like track detailing how he feels stuck in his ways and unwilling to change, along with the repercussions that come from this.
Stars (feat. Yasiin Bey) [prod. BADBADNOTGOOD, Christo & Eric Jones]
A beautiful song with a deep melody and serene lead, and some excellent vocal work and mixing effects. Yasiin Bey gives us an amazing feature about some very deep topics.
Just In Time (feat. Lil Wayne & Kenny Mason) [prod. Christo & monte booker]
A level-headed, lyrically loaded track with a lot of legitimate lyrics about his lifestyle. Lil Wayne and Kenny Mason both whip out some wonderful words of wisdom.
Money [prod. Khrysis]
A fun and lighthearted-sounding track that touches on some very deep topics in a cool way. The music video carries this same energy, coming with an eye-opening ending.
Better Days (feat. Johntá Austin) [prod. Christo, Benji. & Hero the Band]
A heavy, bittersweet track that tells a touching story about JID’s childhood and how it ties into the greater issues that he goes over. Johntá Austin sings his heart out, giving us a thought-provoking 8 on the bridge.
Lauder Too (feat. Ravyn Lenae & Eryn Allen Kane) [prod. James Blake, monte booker, Groove & Thundercat]
A steady, hypersonic track about JID’s place in society, the rap game, and the world at large, as well as the issues he sees and his perspective pertaining to them. It has passionate, heartful vocal work from Ravyn Lenae and Eryn Allen, who give a more soul-filled, alluring side to the song.
2007 [prod. Latrell James, Groove & Christo]
The original outro for the album that unfortunately did not make it on due to clearance issues.
Overall, The Forever Story is a beautiful, cohesive album that touches on tons of experiences JID has had throughout his life, which all tie together to create this “piece”. It shines a light on many hard subjects with ease and is still a highly enjoyable listening experience. The mixing, mastering, and production are handled with excellence. The ATL-native’s vocal/emcee work, as well as the featured artists’, are top-tier. They tell harrowing stories in an immersive way. The visuals for the project are also top-notch, bringing his stories to life in an engaging manner. I would highly recommend this album.