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Atlanta's own J.I.D was spitting rapid-fire lyrics on the Red Stage to the hundreds ensconced in the orange Brooklyn sunset at Afropunk this summer. The rapper just got done rapping about sin, oral sex and a home invasion of Revenge of the Dreamers 3 in the 12-second standout of the “Wells Fargo (Interlude).” Even to us backstage in his artist tent, less than an hour after leaving the stage, with a scarf wrapped around his head and his eyelids seemingly never blinking, he spoke in tangents about adages and life.
But, since August 8, J.I.D’s mind has been full of the strangest image a genius can see: nothingness.
“My grandmother just passed,” J.I.D told REVOLT TV. “I haven’t been able to write a verse since. Everything has been blank, which is weird.”
In our exclusive chat, the 28-year-old wordsmith spoke about what NO I.D. is bringing out of him on their upcoming project, what makes him proud to be a rapper from Atlanta and a slew of unreleased music he’s preparing to drop.
Thank u @afropunk— (J.I.D) (@JIDsv) August 25, 2019
The love I received today is unparalleled and I appreciate my people ..
What was it like performing in front of the Afropunk Festival crowd?
The Afropunk crowd is us. It makes me super happy to be able to do that in front of people who can relate to my stories and people who look like me... Even outside of the music, just the cultural aspect of this festival is super progressive. It’s all progressive shit. My whole story is about black plight. That’s my whole thing. I’m super, pro-black. I don’t shade or down any other culture or anything. But, I’m pro-us... I’ll come to this festival for fucking free... I just want to be around my people and express myself.
I played my dad ‘Ladies, Ladies, Ladies’ from Revenge of the Dreamers 3 because he loves vivid lyricists and he was feeling your verse. What’s the last real-life event that inspired a verse or a song for you?
Do you know what’s crazy? My grandmother just passed and this is the opposite of what you just asked me. But, I haven’t been able to write a verse since. Everything has been blank, which is weird. But, I know I’m going to get to that point. She passed on August 8 and we had the funeral just last week. It’s been hard for me... I can’t even really live with it right now.
But, the last event that inspired [me to write] a verse was when I did a song with Kehlani on her album. I don’t know if I should tell people this. It was talking about freaky things. So, it was inspired by sex (laughs).
You were unquestionably the MVP of that Revenge of the Dreamers 3 album. What about you changed after those Dreamville sessions?
When I create, I am alone. I don’t like others' opinions. I don’t like seeing people. If I’m writing a verse and you’re in the room minding your business, I’m just going to be annoyed you’re over there (laughs). Now, after working in that big ass group, it lets me know there’s more than one way to skin a cat. ‘To skin a cat’ is a horrible ass phrase. Whoever came up with that is horrible. But, it showed me another way to get to a final product.
One thing people can’t wait to hear is the album with NO I.D. that you’ve been working on. Where are you at with that? How many songs do you have for it so far?
Man, that shit is lit. Let’s not get into those details (laughs). I don’t want to talk about it until everything is done. I don’t want to give any teasers.
So, what have you learned from working with No I.D.?
He’s the O.G. We sit in the sessions and just talk about life. That shit is inspiring. We just talk about real-life shit that can help me write songs. This is the first time I’m working with someone who is pulling more [out of me]. He wants me to get deep.
@knowbodylikesit // Instagram
What makes the Atlanta rap scene so special?
Atlanta is a lot of black people... [who are all] cut from a different cloth. You’re getting different vibes. I always do this. I always get super black on people. When they bought us over to slavery in the south, there were different tribes and different collections of people in Atlanta... They say it’s Wakanda or whatever they fucking call it. But, [Atlanta] is another mecca for black people to live and thrive. You can see the poorest black man on the block or the richest black woman ever all in one place. That’s not a common thing elsewhere.
Your last solo body of work, Dicaprio 2, was pretty cinematic and we live in an era where albums, mixtapes, and projects are viewed as interchangeable. When you're working on an album, do you ever have moments where you feel like that project will make your career?
This is going to be the best album I’ve ever done. I’ve been working on it for what feels like all my damn life. I’m using songs from years ago... There are so many different ways I’m attacking this project that I’ve never done before, so it feels special.
How did being on a number one album with Revenge of the Dreamers 3 change what you want to do with your album?
Man, that’s [J.] Cole’s album (laughs).
You’re on more songs on the album than J. Cole.
Damn, it’s pretty cool (laughs)... It’s a blessing. Just to be on something with someone like Cole. He’s a genuine guy. I respect people that can be comfortable in their own skin. When I first met him, he never flexed... He only gave me respect. I respect and love him as a person. Outside of music, he’s a good guy. I try to surround myself with people like that.
It’s tight to be on a number one album. But, I don’t even think about shit like that. The goals I have for myself are far beyond where I’m at right now. So, I’m not really settled and I’m going through a crazy little transition in my right now that I’m trying to figure out.
I wish I could text mac right now, we use to gossip like middle schoool hoes— (J.I.D) (@JIDsv) August 22, 2019
You recently tweeted out that you and Mac Miller used to gossip on the phone. What was your relationship like with him?
That’s my nigga. We knew each other for a couple of years. But, we started to get closer. We were going on tour, we started working on music together. He helped me with my project. I was helping him with his. He helped me with DiCaprio 2. He produced on ‘Strawberries’ with Cole. He helped arrange [that and] 'Just Da Other Day.’ He told me to take some niggas off of songs (laughs). He came through and helped. I came through to his sessions and saw his genius. I understood him. Outside of the music, he was just a good friend to me... We used to talk about our girl problems and shit.
Is there anyone from Atlanta that you think people should look out for?
[Atlanta's own] Kenny Mason. I just did a song with him... He’s young [and] amazing. He’s one of those vivid lyricists that your pops would like. He just dropped the song called ‘Hit.’ He’s going to be the next one. I’m about to drop a little three-pack of songs and he’s going to be on one of those songs.
If you love Atlanta stars and hip hop, you'll definitely want to join us and AT&T in the ATL on Sept. 12- Sept. 14 for our three-day REVOLT Summit, which was created to help rising moguls reach the next level. Head to REVOLTSummit.com for more info and to get your passes now!
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