Dreamville / Interscope
Dreamville / Interscope

Since becoming a household name himself, J. Cole has spent the last few years quietly stockpiling talent for his Dreamville Records roster, helping launch the careers of buzzworthy upstarts Bas and Cozz, both of whom have garnered critical acclaim. However, Atlanta native J.I.D, the most recent addition to the Dreamville family, may be his greatest discovery thus far.

J.I.D possesses the lyrical capability and knack for songwriting that could one day put him in a similar space as the 4 Your Eyez Only creator. Announcing his signing with Dreamville in February, the Spillage Village member wasted no time finding his footing, unleashing his The Never Story project just a month later, a collection of songs that validates the hype and makes for a glowing first impression of all that J.I.D has to offer.

The Never Story immediately gets off to a favorable start with "General," a Latrell James and Oz the Additive-produced number over which J.I.D lets loose a barrage of heady couplets while giving a summary of his backstory. "From rapping in that truck with bolts on and rolling blunts/Bagging a couple bitches and fucking them all at once/Friday night lights, I was catching and dropping punts/Thinking about rapping, I could be J.I.D or like Chris Johnson," the rhymer spits, touching on his days as a standout scholarship athlete, as well as his subsequent expulsion in lieu of alleged criminal activity.

Being a leader of the new school, J.I.D dismantling a sample of "Scenario" by A Tribe Called Quest on the Hollywood JB-produced "EdEddnEddy" is opposite as it gets, and indicative of the rapper's true school values. Able and willing to run roughshod over a track by his lonesome, J.I.D is also as effective within the confines of collaboration, as he displays at various junctures throughout The Never Story.

The first of those instances occurs on "D/vision," and EarthGang assisted cut that is full of screw-face inducing stanzas that will have you scrambling for a playback. Produced By J. Cole, "D/vision" finds J.I.D batting lead-off, and the result is a verse that gets hit out of the park, with the Dreamville rookie spouting, "Met 'em from every side of the spectrum/Hannibal Lector lecture, body part bone collector/Nosy ass hoes get punched in the septum/That's part of the woes for throwing salt like Epson," and volleying additional quips over the lively snares and pounding kicks.

EarthGang members Doctur Doc and Johnny Venus also turn in solid performances, with the former rapping, "I'm under pressure smoking pressure, walking in no direction/Chalk it up to the devil for fucking with my perspective." The latter gets transparent with introspective lines like, "I'm battling addiction, I'm deep in premonitions," completing the cipher, which doubles as one of the finer moments on The Never Story.

Another guest appearance that stands apart from the pack is singer Mereba's contribution on "All Bad," a melancholy selection that samples "It Ain't Safe Outside" by Angelo Mota. J.I.D gets intimate, purring, "And if I'm trying to tell the truth, it's all bad/'Cause if you looking for the proof, it's all there," over the Hollywood JB-produced soundbed. R&B crooner 6LACK pops up on the Childish Major-produced "8701," inspired by R&B vet Usher's landmark album of the same name," another potent offering from J.I.D's latest long player.

Other memorable songs on The Never Story include "Hoodbooger," which finds J.I.D channeling shades of pre-Young Money Lil Wayne, and "Somebody," a snazzy, feel-good, ditty. However, the brightest spot on the album is "Hereditary," a plush composition that is equally quaint as it is addictive. Produced by Tha Officialz, and powered by grand piano keys, horns and percussion, "Hereditary" finds J.I.D reeling from love lost. "Want me to tell you the truth? What you expect me to say?/'Cause if we keeping it true, it's probably never gon' change," the rapper laments. With lines like, "I shouldn't let you explain, you should just let me explain/I see the games you be playing, it's really ice in your veins," painting a description of a cold-hearted man-eater, and an indelible hook, J.I.D crafts a winner with "Hereditary," the crown jewel of The Never Story.

J.I.D may be at the genesis of his career as far as national exposure and building a reputation for himself as one of the more talented newcomers primed for greatness, but The Never Story is certainly a step in that direction and a great foundation to build upon. While closer to the floor than the ceiling in terms of realizing his full potential, J.I.D shines throughout the LP's 12 tracks with ease, giving the feeling that The Never Story is just the calm before the storm that is sure to come during his reign.

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