IDK performed at my college while I was still a student TWICE, and I saw him neither time. I don’t remember who he was opening for the first time, but the second time I was less than 60 feet away from the stage he was going to perform on, opening up for the Flatbush Zombies, and decided not to go because he had already came the year before. A couple of months later, I decided to finally listen to IDK’s IWASVERYBAD to figure out why he had been invited to perform on campus twice and why the Flatbush Zombies said they’d refuse to perform if IDK wasn’t allowed to perform. I now fully understand why there was so much hype over Jason Mills, and I have since – as we’ve already been over – become a very strong IDK stan.
Reaching back into the archives of my Spotify “Liked Tracks” playlist, I saved IWASVERYBAD to my phone on June 24, 2018, 7 months after the initial release of the project (did I mention I was fake???). That summer, I listened to IWASVERYBAD religiously, taking it with me on bike rides around my college’s campus and listening to it in my room on repeat for an entire two-month period, while simultaneously watching IDK’s Genius Verified video for “PIzza Shop” over and over because he has a great face. And there’s one part in the video where he says “bye bye” and idk….I really just love that lol.
The album is a perfect example of an artist bringing the listener into their world fully. The project opens up with “Mrs. Lynch, Your Son is the Devil.” In it, we’re introduced to the rocky relationship between IDK and his mother. The barrage of voicemails from his teachers announcing his suspension and from the police announcing his arrest for a crime act as the obstacles that push the duo farther away from each other. IDK uses the remainder of the album to dig deeper into those obstacles, as he brings us into the present and what has become of his relationship with his mother. The song itself, sans the lyrics, opens up like a movie. Every time I listen to this song, I can’t help but imagine the scenes playing out on a stage. You can feel how overwhelmed his mother is becoming as she is constantly being reminded of IDK’s “badness,” while also recognizing how equally overwhelmed IDK is with being told over and over again that he would be “bad forever.”
I actually, while writing this, started thinking about how I read Romeo and Juliet in my ninth grade English class. I don’t remember a lot of what we talked about (lol me not remembering something would be solved if I wrote in my journal more) regarding the play, but I do remember my teacher making a really big deal about Shakespeare’s utilization of the Chorus at the beginning of the play. She told us that the Chorus’s job was to help give a short overview of what the play would be about, before the actual events of the play took place. So when you read the Chorus’s opening lines in Romeo and Juliet, you’re getting the entirety of the story, sans the specific details. Two families are feuding; a son in one family falls in love with the daughter of another, despite the family feud, they die together; their families kept beefing. I think “Mrs. Lynch” acts very very similarly to Romeo and Juliet‘s Chorus; IDK allows this track to give us a play by play of what the album’s going to be about and the story that fills the space of the project’s songs, while leaving enough of a gap in the story so that we are still interested in hearing more. I think this is even further supported by the “chorus” – or at least the harmonized vocals of Jessica Samiere – that adds the somewhat impending doom-esque melody in the background of the song.
The album continues with “Maryland Ass Nigga” and “Pizza Shop,” which both tell the story of IDK’s peer-influenced apathy towards the possibility of getting in trouble. We hear about how the spatial influence of being close to a “bad” school make for a young Jason that couldn’t give two fucks about anything but the approval of his friends. “Pizza Shop” is one of my FAVORITE songs ever and on this project. It continues the vivid scene that we were introduced to with “Mrs. Lynch,” by putting us in the car with IDK and Friends (that’s a pun, please click the link lol), as they prepare for and execute a robbery that would eventually land Jason in jail. I know every word to “Pizza Shop” and lose my MIND when it comes on. I don’t know anything about ANYTHING he’s talking about in this song, but he EATSSSSSS the production on this. I do think I (get ready to cue the boos) could have done without MF DOOM and Del the Funky Homosapien on the extended version of this track, though. The verses are GREAT, but they change up the energy a little, in a way that I don’t think necessarily adds anything to the song.
Now, I don’t really have a lot to say about the next four songs on the project, but just know that I LOVE THEM WITH ALL MY HEART. The production on all for songs – “Dog Love Kitty,” “Mama Said ‘Respect the Venus Symbol’ I Didn’t Listen,” “Windows Up,” and “Birds & the Bees” – is sooo good. The VOCALSSSSSS that IDK serves us????????? great!!!!! I literally have no clue what any of these songs are called, unless I look at them on the tracklist (because when I listen to all of them I just end of listening to the whole project lol), but I know almost every word to each song. They just show IDK’s versatility as an artist and offer something a little bit softer, before we get into “17 Wit a 38,” with Chief Keef.
Now….let’s really talk about the last 4 songs on the project (except “No Words” because it’s great, I just don’t have strong feelings about it). “No Shoes on the Rug, Leave Them at the Door,” “Black Sheep, White Dove” and “Baby Scale” tackle IDK’s relationship with his mom, who we heard from last on “Mrs. Lynch.” By this point in the project, IDK has been arrested for the robbery at the pizza shop and is getting visits from his mom in jail. These moments with her transform their relationship from a conflicting one to one where IDK starts to realize the love that his mom actually has for him. There’s a maturation process that IDK goes through during these moments, where he begins to recognize that what he was previously receiving as his mom’s complete disdain for him was actually her love and yearn to protect him. She becomes his rock as he spends time locked up, visiting him and making sure that he has the things he needs and is doing ok. It’s such a great moment to get to where they both seem to have a better understanding of each other and recognize that bond that they have has mother and son. And it’s fitting that this happens before the breaking of their physical connection to each other.
“Black Sheep, White Dove,” though absolutely HEARTBREAKING, is my favorite song from this project. In it, we learn that Jason’s mom has passed away and we’re witnessing the way that he both copes with and uses his mom’s passing as a point of motivation for himself. It’s a beautiful track with a haunting and church-like beginning, where IDK’s lyrics hit us almost completely unadorned. We aren’t told how his mom dies – we’d find out on Is He Real? (2019) – but we are told about the ways that she continues to live on with him. And we’re given the very beautiful line of “that’s why I’m sad inside, I said I’d never cry / But I look in your eyes when I look in the mirror / One blink and then I tear up.” I don’t know how it feels to lose a parent, much less my mom, who I grew up with. It has always just been the two of us in the house; when we moved, we moved together, up until I went off to college. While my relationship with my mom growing up was a little strained, as is common with many relationships between black mothers and black daughters, she has always been the most important person in my life. And as I get older, I become more and more scared about the day coming where she isn’t physically in my life anymore. And it’s such a terrifying thought. So when I hear people like IDK – or Jay Electronica on the last song of his new project – talk about how they’ve lost their moms, I can’t help but get really emotional. And so that emotion really drives my attachment to this song. And the production is also so fucking amazing. That’s on gang. And on period!!!! I’m in love with this song. I just…..wowwwwwwww!!!!! SO beautiful. And I’m so thankful for this song.
I HAD to link the song because I’m in love with it. IN LOVE.
And then we end off with “Baby Scale.” And, again, don’t have much to say about this song, but it’s such a good ending. I love the choice that IDK made to have a song where he BARS OUT at the end. I think it’s such a powerful decision on his part to showcase his motivation and drive in such an intense way on this song. It shows that despite the circumstances of his past and the passing of his mom, he is more willing than ever to show the world what he can do. Let’s just look at the bars real quick:
Any you niggas want beef then I’m servin’ out (steak!)
Free smoke, free smoke (aye)
Repo, repo (aye)
They take your chain, take your watch
Take your car, take your house, and your hoe (aye)
I’m the best rapper where I’m from, nigga
Far as I’m concerned, nobody better
Fuck your analytics, fuck a stream
Fuck your team, I can walk a balance beam
When I sing, juggle, spit a 16 and be humble
Just to be on Jimmy Kimmel, I’m tryna put everybody on
But I gotta put on myself first, I gotta get up my self-worth
Everyone can get it, everyone’s a critic
When you this high, everyone’s one a midget
2010 yeah, J. Cole said it
Mama lookin’ down, praying for a nigga
Next 30 days, Jay gon’ get it, gone
AND THAT’S THAT ON THAT.
So. The last thing I’ll say about IWASVERYBAD is that I fucking love this album and I fucking love IDK. I had the privilege of seeing him last November and had that time of my life (I talk a little bit about that experience here). He’s suchhhh a great performer and really put on a show. So much energy!! I’m so excited to hear more from him. I’m just soooooooo so so so so here for his artistic growth. WOW! I just….really love black folks lol.
Featured Image Credit: https://genius.com/album_cover_arts/211178, edited by me 🙂
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