Since signing to Dreamville Records in 2017, J.I.D has gone from strength to strength, flourishing under the guidance of J. Cole and co. Even before that, he was earning plaudits for his energy and meticulous arrangement of ideas and syllables. With DiCaprio 2, J.I.D levelled up again, dropping arguably one of the best hip hop releases of 2018.
He’s got punchlines Big L would have been proud of and seems to genuinely relish any opportunity to mix it with hip hop’s heavyweights with bubbling, fearless and for the f**k of it verses on tracks with ASAP Ferg, Method Man and, of course, J.Cole. We had the pleasure of catching up with him recently while he was in the country for Hidden Festival. Read the full interview below.
This is just a sequel. The first one was definitely named after him but this is just a sequel, so it’s an addition, and it’s like a mix-tape. So, I just wanted to keep rolling with that. This will probably be the last one.
At the time he didn’t have an Oscar, and I didn’t have a deal. I didn’t have a job. I was just working on music doing a lot of good stuff, but it wasn’t really reaching the people like that. It wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do, so I just kinda used the lines of symmetry there because he didn’t have awards to his name and I didn’t have a deal. So, it was real simple and he’s one of my favourite actors.
We just changed it. There really wasn’t any issues as far as legal because it wasn’t him. It was a doppelgänger. It was some dude from Sweden, so we paid for the likeness of his face and used it, put it out there, but we already wanted to change the cover ’cause the one I had posted initially wasn’t the cover, it was just an option for it, but it all worked out fine.
For real like every song. The whole project was made while I was on the road, so I made it for performances. Every song that I do, you can tell the difference between the last project and then DiCaprio 2 when it starts immediately, ‘cause just that energy and the production of it just adds for that type of energy.
It changes like every day. It’s hard, you know what I’m saying, to pick a favourite because you put so much work into each one of them. Today I would probably say “Slick Talk” is my favourite.
He arranged the whole song, so we had the beat already. He literally took parts, dropped stuff, gave me little points, like, “You should do this, and switch this up,” just little stuff like that.
I like everything. I don’t even have a favourite style of music. I was really bouncing around and trying to find the stuff that moves me, opposed to just sticking to one thing ’cause that’s kind of boring. I like pretty much everything. I’m a super-rock kid, and I like electronic and stuff sometimes. It just depends on what mood I’m in.
No, I don’t even think about that. I don’t think about nothing for real when I make my music. I just try to keep it authentic and stay close to home with my subject, make sure it’s relatable in every regard or at least try to keep my truth. I try to keep my truth within my words and stuff like that, but the rivalry thing was just funny because I feel like I was the first person to just mention, “Like, alright. We like on the same level. You know we should just talk about it.” You know what I’m saying?
Yeah, it’s all love. I’m on tour with Reason right now and I went on tour with Ab-Soul a few years ago. I met damn near all of them, maybe not Schoolboy and I don’t feel like I met SZA before. I feel like I met everybody else then.
Yeah. When I was on tour with Ab-Soul, Bas was there from Dreamville, and Cole came to one of the shows and he saw me perform a song that I did with this group called EarthGang, if you know who that is, and yeah it was really simple as that.
Nothing. Not yet.
Lit. It was crazy. Just a bunch of people came through. It was like ego-less, and it was just a lot of creativity. You couldn’t really put a word on it to name the feeling. It was just a great moment for music, ’cause nobody’s ever done anything like that as far as I’m concerned. Like bringing that many artists through in one setting and then just being able to work effectively. I feel like that’s the first time that’s been done.
It’s different ’cause I don’t even like being around people when I’m creating. Even being around there I was like, “I don’t wanna write verses around y’all.” I don’t wanna feel like I’m trying out or doing a competition or anything like that. I make my stuff and it’s always like my standards, you know what I’m saying? So that was different and I dropped a couple verses here and there, but it was great. I’m super particular about how I record and how I say stuff. It’s hard for me to think around a bunch of people thinking, I guess. If that makes sense.
It’s on the way. I promise.
I was always watching what the oldest person did or watching somebody else in the family to decide, “Oh, I probably shouldn’t do that.” I always had a super perceptive ideal, watching people and stuff like this, so I’m super in my head a lot, but I just watch stuff, you know what I’m saying? I learn from other people’s mistakes opposed to me just making a mistake and moving on. But that happens.
Yeah, facts. I’ve got a lot of them.
Just being from A, it’s already like a southern mindset. Atlanta is a city for black people, but outside it’s a red state. It’s below the Mason-Dixie, you know, racism is still alive. Growing up in Atlanta just taught me to stay close to your family. Atlanta is very particular, but you can see every level of success and failure in black people in the city because there’s so many black people. You have a woman that could be mayor or something, but you see a junkie on a corner, so you could see every level of life that you wanna be in or what you could be in if you don’t do something.
Yeah I got to come back. Yeah, it’s tight though. It’s gonna be super cool just to see people that wanted to come just to see me. Two Melbourne shows, we sold them out both times.
One hundred percent. I’m about to be a screenwriter. One hundred percent. That’s next. That’s the evolution of me. I started playing sports first, I got into music, but it’s gonna end in film and I’ll probably get tired and die doing like coaching or something like that but those are a couple of goals I’ve got for myself.
I gotta get a Grammy. I don’t even care, if I just get nominated, I’m good. I just wanna be recognised, and I’m cool.