The moment an artist comes into their own is always a beautiful thing to witness. During the journey of mastering their respective crafts, they come to a point where they realize exactly who they are. It hit Miles Davis while recording Kind of Blue. For Kanye West, it was after the release of “All Falls Down,” and for Dreamville’s JID, The Forever Story just may be his “Aha!” moment when it comes to the creative process.
It has been almost four years since the release of his previous project DiCaprio 2, and since then, it’s evident that the East Atlanta native has grown substantially both as a musician, and a man. He approaches his artistry with a bit more intention, and exudes a higher level of vulnerability in his music. On The Forever Story, JID gives his listeners a glimpse into the psyche of a rapper dealing with the effects of newfound success, and that no matter how far away one’s past may be, it will always be a part of who they are, both now and forever.
Family is one of the central themes on the Grammy Award-nominated entertainer’s third studio album. His father’s tutelage, the complicated dynamic between him and his siblings, the regret felt due to unfortunate circumstances; JID puts a multitude of emotion on what is undeniably a phenomenal body of work. At its core, The Forever Story is a history lesson – the experiences of a young, Black, urban youth on the path to manhood. Throughout the album’s 15 tracks, we hear about so many of JID’s struggles, but also about their beauty, because it was in conquering these obstacles that allowed him to excel in so many other endeavors.
After the album’s melodic and tone-setting introductory track “Galaxy,” the 32-year-old emcee shows his versatility as a creative on “Raydar.” In the first verse, he raps about how his songs can provide something for everyone, but in a way that it doesn’t come across as corny or pandering. The second two verses however, JID really showcases why he has become one of the most sought after artists in the industry. He begins to speak to the powers that be and their oppressive nature, as well as how people of color have still been able to persevere in spite of. On “Raydar,” JID fully understands the magnitude of his platform, and all of the responsibilities that come with it.
The Spillage Village member references his childhood quite often on The Forever Story. Cuts such as “Can’t Punk Me,” featuring EARTHGANG, has the rapper discussing his rough upbringing and negative influences, and “Crack Sandwich” explores his experiences with poverty, but is also a celebration of the power that a Black man with intelligence possesses. The album’s lead single, the 21 Savage and Baby Tate-assisted “Surround Sound,” samples Yasiin Bey’s “Ms. Fat Booty,” and highlights JID’s dexterity as a lyricist.
It is the album’s midpoint where the content really gets deep. With “Kody Blu 31” and “Sistanem,” JID takes an introspective look at his relationship with his sister, and how their once-close knit bond has become fractured because of his newly-acquired fame. On “Bruddanem,” he links up with Lil Durk to talk about the love that they both have for their brothers; blood or otherwise, and how they’ll always fight for their people no matter what. On “Can’t Make U Change” and “Stars,” which has guest appearances from Ari Lennox and Bey, respectively, JID gets in-depth about his association with women nowadays, and how success has made him apprehensive towards getting serious due to ulterior motives. Everything comes together on the album’s final track. Building off the original “Lauder,” where he talks about achieving his goals, “Lauder Too” finds him questioning whether it was even worth it. His art is extremely sacred to him, but sometimes he feels that it may not be enough.
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The Forever Story is an examination into the mind, body and soul of a man on the path towards stability and peace of mind. Throughout its hour-long duration, we see him realize the importance of learning from all past experiences, along with the value of true human connection, for better or worse. As his star continues to rise, let’s hope that JID continues to tell us his story for as long as he can.