2022 should be remembered as the year JID went from good to great. He’s already made a really good album (The Never Story) and an excellent one (DiCaprio 2). He’s already been part of a groundbreaking collective that went from obscure to underground hitmakers–Spillage Village–and which produced 6lack. And now he’s created a work of genius.

As soon as Raydar switches up for the first time you’ll realize it. This is not a typical rap album–it’s become so easy to produce hip hop these days that you’re forgiven for being exhausted. JID switches up his flow over and over on Raydar–and signals that “The Forever Story” is a different thing that what you’ve heard.

“It sound cool, but really this is a confessional…” Crack Sandwich is just a “this is what happened” story about a night at a club, telling the story of a fight and arrest involving his siblings, from several points of view. There’s a lot more about family here–notably, “Bruddanem” followed by “Sistanem.” Can’t Punk Me is like all the best Earthgang songs–a rushed and tough hook between bars of punchlines. “Surround Story” is just fucking brilliant. “Money” feels like a callback to Jay-Z’s breakthrough classic, “Hard Knock Life,” full of both wisdom and humor. JID gets out of Ari Lennox’s way by adapting his flow once again, changing things up for Can’t Make U Change. “Stars” has some terrific Yaslin Bey vox and it’s the standard origin rap, but on it he discloses that his ability to change flows was born from imitation–and now he’s found his own voice: “Was still in apartments, stealing and starving/Fast-forward, I’m in a building with stars/And I got in Yachty’s car, he got stars in the ceiling/Pause for a minute/Gotta know the difference in the stars and the gimmicks/Are you really in it for the arts or the image?/Do you really live it in your heart and spirit?”

OK. It’s a little long. There are a few songs that needed editing. But these are minor weakness–and honestly are barely noticeable on the first and second time through this album. “The Forever Story” is a classic.

It’s been four years between albums, and it shows that if you wait until you have something to say, you can create something powerful and, hopefully, enduring. Because “The Forever Story” should last forever, and JID has moved to the next level.

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