The age of J.I.D is officially upon us. The J. Cole-assisted "Off Deez" was among the first warning signs. While the latest DiCaprio 2 single continues to amass universal acclaim, many have found themselves looking to revisit some of J.I.D's earlier work. Not to mention, those who came strictly for the Cole feature likely found themselves pleasantly surprised by the young Dreamville champion; after all, J. Cole doesn't simply pass the torch to those undeserving.

In any case, a J.I.D. primer is in order, especially since his name will likely be ringing bells for some time to come. Though his young catalog has depth, spanning back to his formative days, J.I.D. really started making noise around The Never Story. Even now, his official solo debut remains slept on, and likely to attract a slew of curious fans. Now that "Off Deez" has your undivided attention, consider a deeper examination of these five, essential J.I.D. bangers. 


My personal introduction to J.I.D's talents, "Hasta Luego" serves as the quintessential starting point. Over an up-tempo instrumental from Cubeatz & Wondagurl, J.I.D lays down a dexterous flow, navigating the pocket with startling proficiency. Imbued by a sinister sense of menace, "Hasta Luego" serves as an analysis of Atlanta, and the dark cloud that looms overhead. "Had to get out of Atlanta for a little minute, you know that there's madness in the fucking city," he raps, as the 808s guide like will-o-the-wisps. 


The two-part title track of J.I.D's The Never Story is another impressive showcase of the rapper's talents. The first movement features an eerie instrumental, over which J.I.D. spits a quick-witted, hypnotic dose of lyricism. The madness truly kicks off upon the halfway point, whereupon the beat violently grows a new sets of limbs, which swiftly proceed to beat your ass. "Young n***as down the block on the woopty woop
Better pray to God they don't shoot at you," he spits, in the closing stanza. "Dreams of cleanin' this dirty money out my cuticles, then a n***a make the crowd jump like Zoboomafoo." Kratt Brother references on deck.


Before Dreamville, J.I.D came up alongside a pair of likeminded lyricists, Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot, better known as EarthGang. Together, the trifecta put in work within the Spillage Village collective, spending the bulk of their formative artistic years together. The trifecta reunited to brilliant results on The Never Story's "D/Vision." Over a slinking, J. Cole-produced instrumental, all three artists turn in stellar verses, shining in an environment where healthy competition is encouraged. Yet J.I.D makes a strong impression, showcasing his originality with a crazy "Ninja Turtle finger" bar.


Though J.I.D's lyrical prowess is well documented at this point, his melodic sensibilities are also worth respecting. Such is evident on The Never Story's emotional centerpiece "Hereditary," which finds our hero ruminating on the gene pool. Bookended by a smooth chorus, "Hereditary" showcases a different side of the young rapper, one unafraid to venture deeper into his own vulnerability. The bars are there, but so too is a welcome sense of maturity, the likes of which many of his contemporaries might lack. 


The Never Story's closing track "Lauder" is also one J.I.D's most unyielding. Over a genuinely unsettling instrumental from J. Cole, J.I.D. absolutely spazzes, his intensity reflected in every breath. The man is out here rapping, and the third verse of "Lauder" stands among his finest work to date. "Let's get it poppin', they're pulling pistols on apostle Paul / so pay the piper or meet the sniper, legend of the fall," he spits, in a dazzling technical display. "I knew in diapers you and I was nothing alike at all, I do or die, you do it to die, I'm really making calls." Most impressive, perhaps, is the sheer force behind his performance, imbuing "Lauder" with an unexpected sense of emotional gravitas.