“I got the name from my grandma because when I was a baby she used to call me jittery,” explains the Atlanta rapper about his unique rap moniker. “I used to move around real fast.” Pronounced J-I-D, the latest recruit into the Dreamville brain trust has no choice but to move even faster these days. With the ink barely dry on his new record deal, the East Atlanta native has already released his first album under the imprint.
According to J.I.D, granny doesn’t even remember handing down the nickname to her favorite grandson, but the alias has carried him all the way from an unfruitful football scholarship to the offices of Los Angeles’ Interscope Records — home to J. Cole’s Dreamville label. J.I.D’s debut, The Never Story, officially hit online retailers today (March 10), and already, fans and critics are singing the praises of his lyrical abilities.
“I’m from the same area as Gucci Mane,” says J.I.D. “I stayed off Bouldercrest road. I stayed off Glenwood. I got family and aunties all through the East side. I’m just telling it from my perspective.” The upcoming artist knows that his side of town is most associated with trap rap, but he aims to show a different side of Zone 6.
“I wasn’t into that shit,” says the rapper about the streets. “I was into some other shit but I was around the same environment. Even with my older brothers and sisters, I’m the youngest of seven, and I used to watch how they moved. It kinda of manipulated how I moved. They used to get into big trouble.”
After leaving college early, J.I.D says he knew he had little time to find a new path in life. With the allure of the drug hustle all around his old stomping grounds, music was the answer he needed to avoid the pitfalls of the hood after academia failed him. “I didn’t even expect myself to do music,” admits J.I.D. “It was probably sports that kept me away from [trouble] when I was younger. I ran track and played football… I was an all American.”
He didn’t have the most conventional approach to music, but who really does anymore? When it comes assumptions, the detail-orientated emcee will leave you guessing again — time after time. While his The Never Story album features his comrades EarthGang, 6LACK, Mereba, Childish Major, SMKA and J. Cole, the kid’s musical influences don’t all come from the hip-hop realm.
“Right now, my favorite group of all time in the world is Little Dragon. Those are my guys, I’m gonna f–kin’ get them tattooed on me,” says J.I.D with sincerity.
His eclectic taste bleeds through heavy on the LP. J.I.D combines all the best elements of a 2017 OutKast and Kendrick Lamar coupled with his own untamed penchant for telling stories. Fans aren’t likely to get bars about hittin’ licks, pink molly and huge diamond chains, but there are no sleepy time raps in his catalog either. The highly competitive lyricist is hell-bent on taking over rap — and surprisingly the Grammys — no matter who he has to step on along the way.
“I’m trying to be the best, bro,” says J.I.D about his Dreamville team. “This is competition and they squad, but we all have to solidify what we’re doing so people can care more about [our] situation. I’m literally trying to be the best at everything. Like I’m going at Cole’s neck and everybody else. And I love Cole! Cozz, Bas those are my homies but we’re all going to compete, and it’s going to bring the best out in everybody.”
Fans can purchase The Never Story on iTunes now.
This article was originally published on Billboard.com’s sister site VIBE.com.