Brooklyn rapper J.I. might not be one of his city's most popular rappers today, but his moniker as "The Prince of New York" is well-earned. After his impressive performance on Jermaine Dupri's reality show The Rap Game and his hit 2019 hit "Need Me," J.I. has been enjoying steady success.
The 20-year-old rapper and singer earned a Drake cosign in April of 2020 and has proven to be a versatile crooner and trap artist. He's even tapped into his Puerto Rican roots on the aptly titled "Spanglish" with the island's own Myke Towers.
J.I. returns this year with a new mixtape, Young & Restless Vol. 1 Baby Don. The release comes from his deal with Interscope via G*Starr Ent./Geffen Records. He's also released the video for its opener, "Relapse," which sets the tone for the introspective and ethereal songs that follow.
"Toxic" goes into bitter relationship bars, "Stronger" is confident yet self-aware, and a sling of previous singles like "Murda," which is dangerously catchy and bouncy, demonstrate the effective songwriting and distinct vocal tone that J.I. displays.
The Prince of New York been making hip-hop since he was battle rapping in 2015, and we were lucky enough to speak with him during his blow-up in 2020. He grew up inspired by artists like Biggie Smalls, Tupac, Nas, and Jay-Z, who he interestingly wasn't a huge fan of until he started rapping and writing himself.
On this record, J.I. really lets the melodies shine and allows himself to use multiple skills to tell his story, whether it be his wistful vocal tone, his punch lines, or a sticky melody. While the album does shift from heartache to hard bangers, J.I.'s signature style and delivery is still intact, making his diversions recognizable.
He often drawn comparisons to A Boogie wit da Hoodie and Lil Tjay, both for their vocal tones and origins, which only emphasizes that J.I. is still poised to become another addition to the roster of New York hip-hop exponents in the 2020s.
Check out the tracklist below and let us know what you think of The Prince of New York's latest effort. You can also check out our episode of "Snack Review" with the Brooklyn rapper below.
Young & Restless Vol. 1 Baby Don Tracklist:
2. I Ain’t Gon Lie
6. No Hook
9. Taken For Granted
10. Right Away
12. Love Letter