2022 has undoubtedly been a fantastic year for Hip-Hop/Rap. Great releases from artists like Kendrick Lamar, Denzel Curry, Saba, Freddie Gibs, Conway the Machine, LUCKI (I did not like his album, but who am I right?), and Black Thought have dominated the rap scene this year. It is damn near impossible to crown any of these men the prestigious “Rap Album of the Year” award. But for those who don’t know, I correctly predicted Jazmine Sullivan’s 2021 Grammy win for “R&B Album of the Year,” and now that I’m rightfully cocky about my foresight, I’d like to try my hand again at another Grammy prediction.
JID’s The Forever Story will win “Rap Album of the Year '' for the year 2022.
The 3rd studio album from the Dreamville acolyte, released August 26th, is a masterfully produced exploration of JID’s upbringing, family life, and the moments he considers central to his “origin story.” The Atlanta native tells a dazzling recollection of how his complex family relationships have molded him, and listeners are introduced to the many different aspects of JID’s family dynamics. For lack of a better word, this album is PERSONAL; JID recorded nearly the entire project in his Atlanta home, and the album’s deeply intimate nature shines through by way of beautiful production, impressive features, and a choir that is oh-so wonderful. Though the album was released in August, I can’t stop re-listening constantly. I find myself listening back and thinking, “Huh? Did he…did he really just do that?” It is difficult for me to express how alluring this album is, and it seems to only be getting better with time.
Since the album explores JID’s relationship with his family, multiple tracks on the album detail specific moments in JID’s life where his relationship with his siblings and parents was either in flux or had never been stronger. On “Crack Sandwich,” JID retells the story of when he and his six siblings were involved in an all-out brawl outside a nightclub in New Orleans. Eerie piano chords introduce the track, and JID - as he does throughout the album - calmly slips into a dynamic storytelling style, where he flexes his lyrical flexibility and unique choices in flow. The complete and utter focus of the track is stomach-churning; JID sets the scene with colorful verbiage, then quickly brings listeners to the story's apex (the brawl) with rough vocals and gritty imagery. This is a stark contrast to JID’s performance on “Bruddanem,” where he details his relationship with his siblings with soothing vocals and beautiful tonnage. Though very different, both tracks are exquisite examples of JID’s family focus.
Central to his discussion of family, JID reveals how faith has shaped his relationship with his family. Compared to his many discussions of family life, JID’s discussion of faith is starkly different in two regards: the choir and his singing. If there is anything you take away from this review, let it be this: THAT BOY CAN SING! Many fans of JID jumped for joy upon hearing the 31-year-old rapper step out of his comfort zone to create tantalizing harmonies with himself and his choir. “Kody Blu 31” is an uplifting gospelesque spiritual where JID sings and raps about how faith has led him through some of his most difficult family quarrels. At the same time, JID encourages listeners to “swang on” and be guided by faith and love rather than hate and disdain. In the album’s penultimate track, “Lauder Too,” JID, with help from Ravyn Lanae and Eryn Allen Kane, concludes his message of faith, repeating to viewers that there are “better days ahead.” Though the track is rife with grief and other expressions of anguish, JID is unwavering in his belief that better days lie ahead for those who are willing to believe.
Adjacent to JID’s soliloquy on faith is his serious deliberation on wealth. He expressed disdain for money’s negative social influence on the project’s most underrated track, “Money.” Though the song is a fun ode to cartoon theme songs, toy commercial jingles, and other music from our childhood, JID contemplates a curious question: who would you be without money? He ponders the value of fortune and juxtaposes monetary fortune with being fortunate for life. This sentiment is echoed in my favorite track on the album “Just in Time,” where JID and Lil Wayne just go stupid. Kenny Mason’s production on the track is intoxicating, with trap aesthetics bouncing between shaky tones of the trumpets and a deep reverb on the 808. Wayne and JID speak on why you don’t waste time, for we are fortunate enough to have time, and whoever tries to misuse your time can get hit with a .9 caliber pistol (if you have one, of course). With blisteringly quick and choppy lyrics from both Wayne and JID, coupled with a somehow smooth delivery, the track entertains an interesting answer to the question posed above: should we be fortunate for money, or fortunate enough to have time to make it?
As much as I would love to drone on and on about the album, for there are features and tracks I am yet to mention (shoutout to Earthgang and Ari Lennox), there needs to be an end. Let this be it: JID created a beautiful record that will satisfy the music-lover in all of us, regardless of your musical preference. His contemplations on family, fortune, and faith are extremely well-constructed, and it is without a doubt that JID paid obsessive amounts of attention to the most minute details of the album. Lest you forgot, let me say it again: this is the Rap Album of the Year, and JID did whatever it took to make that award his.
Favorite Tracks: “Bruddanem,” “Just in Time,” “Money,” “Kody Blu 31,” “Lauder Too,” “Dance Now”
Least Favorite: Ya crazy