I don’t talk about IDK all the time on here, but I LOVE IDK. First off, Black folks from Maryland are top tier (not as top tier as southern Black folks, but they’re up there). Secondly, IDK is super TALENTED and is a solid solid human being. I started listening to him in 2018 after he came to my college twice, and I skipped out on seeing him both times. IWASVERYBAD (2017) was the soundtrack to many of my bike rides around campus during summer 2018. You haven’t lived until you’ve listened to “No Shoes On the Rug, Leave Them at the Door,” “Birds & the Bees,” and “Windows Up” with the sun beaming down on you and the wind blowing through your hair while you try not to run into a squirrel eating a burger on the sidewalk with no intentions on moving. So, with hours of listening to IWASVERYBAD under my belt, I was so excited to learn that he was getting ready to drop a new project the following year. Now…I was really nervous about Is He Real? (2019) lol. He made a second “secret” Instagram account to promote the album and show the behind-the-scenes creative processes that were happening as he created it. And was posting on there EVERYDAY. And because he was hyping it up so much, I was scared that it wasn’t gonna be good; I tend to lean pretty skeptical, and he was teasing us too much for it to have been as good as he was saying it was. Turns out, all that hype was worth it; it was one of my favorite albums of 2019 and is still near the top of my list of favorite albums of all time. Everything about that project is chef’s kiss, and seeing him perform it live was an EXPERIENCE. Now, he has changed the “secret” Instagram’s handle to reflect that a new album (USEEFOR4YOURSELF) is coming soon, and I’m trying to mentally prepare for what we’re about to receive. And a part of that preparation is to finally give IDK & FRIENDS (2018) and IDK & FRIENDS 2 (2020) a listen. I’ve put them off for too long, so with this new album coming, I’m ready for them.
2018: IDK & FRIENDS & 2020: IDK & FRIENDS 2
While these two projects aren’t beating out IWASVERYBAD and Is He Real? as my favorite projects from IDK, I’m glad I finally gave myself the opportunity to listen to them. IDK & FRIENDS and IDK & FRIENDS 2 remind me a lot of how I felt about JPEGMAFIA’s EP! and EP2! They feel like downtime projects that aren’t necessarily meant to be cohesive projects but meant to be opportunities for an artist to create outside of the pressure that can come with crafting an album. IDK does a great job at storytelling through his music and pulling the listener through the project with a narrative – or at least a theme – that the project sits comfortably into. IWASVERYBAD details IDK’s journey through his life before and after going to prison, and Is He Real? offers an opportunity for IDK to share his thoughts and struggles with religion. I haven’t listened to all of his pre-IWASVERYBAD projects, but I’ve heard enough of all of them to recognize that same thematic centrality in them. So, it’s clear that IDK & FRIENDS and IDK & FRIENDS 2 are meant to be different; they’re meant to give IDK space to breathe and have fun. Almost immediately on both of these two projects, you can feel how playful they are. They’re full of braggadocious, “dirty, stinkin’, nasty, ratchet, rowdy” verses from both IDK and his friends that include Wale, Rico Nasty, Maxo Kream, Denzel Curry, and A$AP Ferg. And I love this project for them.
I think projects like this are so important for an artist (of any kind) to make. There was a video I watched on Tik Tok a while back, where someone said (paraphrasing because I’m 95 years old and I didn’t save the video LOL) “creatives don’t have to make something that changes the world. You can just make things to make them.” And that’s a BAR! There’s a pressure that we put on ourselves to constantly be on the search for the next opportunity to make/do something that’s never been done before. And we put so much stress on ourselves and the creative process that we forget why we started making things in the first place, and a big part of the reason why people make things is that they enjoy it. It’s fun! It’s exciting and scratches the part of our brains that nothing else can reach. However, when we focus so heavily on profiting off of it or making it our “best thing,” we lose the joy. And if you’ve heard IWASVERYBAD and Is He Real? (or had the opportunity to watch Is He Real? come together through his “secret” Instagram account), it’s clear that IDK takes his album-making process extremely seriously. The tracks on IDK & FRIENDS and IDK & FRIENDS 2 are still amazing in their own right (the quality is still very high), but they feel more laidback, and there’s a reason they were released between his main albums.
On to my favorite tracks. I’d heard “ONCE UPON A TIME (FREESTYLE)” around the time IDK & FRIENDS came out, and it sounds just as good with the other tracks. And two of my faves on one track? DENZEL AND IDK?? TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE??? I die. I LOVED “BAD NEWS” with Rico Nasty on IDK&F; the two of them together on that production gave me A LOT. Speaking of Rico, Miss Rico RAN “495” on IDK&F2! Her verse was chef’s kiss, and the way the production on that song changes in the second half blew my mind. I’ve been looking all over for the sample on that song, and no one has been able to find it since the project came out which is so sad because I’d give anything to hear the whole song. I loved IDK and Domo Genesis’s back and forth on “GOOD NEWS,” and A$AP Ferg’s verse on “MAZEL TOV” was great. And overall, the production on these two projects was GOD-LEVEL. There was no bad track.
IDK can do no wrong in my eyes, to be honest. He’s such a talented artist and IDK & FRIENDS and IDK & FRIENDS 2 is proof positive that even when he’s not making an album, he can still give us heat when he’s having fun. I’m soooo excited for USEE4YOURSELF to come out. I have zero clue of what to expect, but I’m SURE he’s gonna give us something good good good! Lemme go check to see if he updated the Insta!
Featured Image via VICE
(listen to IDK & FRIENDS and IDK & FRIENDS 2 on spotify by clicking the images below)
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Like JPEGMAFIA from last week, Jazmine Sullivan is someone I have a deep appreciation for but little musical experience with. Luckily, my best friend in middle school was obsessed with her music, so I was introduced to a few more tracks than “Lions, Tigers & Bears” and “Bust Your Windows,” and throughout the years, I’ve … Continue reading First Listen #55: Jazmine Sullivan’s ‘Heaux Tales’