Open your How to be a Rapper and What to Do Once You Finally Make It textbook to the first chapter. The last rule listed is a classic hip-hop trope: “You have your whole life to make your debut album”. There is a reason why we look forward to debut albums and why they hold so much weight, it’s because it’s the introductory paragraph of the rapper’s essay. It tells us who this rapper is, what they’ve been through and where they’re going. If I had to come up with 3 of my favorite debut albums of all time, they would be coming of age stories. The options for an inner-city African-American male are limited so that’s why we’re drawn to these stories of triumph from our heroes who made it out the ghetto.
But what if a rapper wasn’t from the ghetto? What if any criminal behavior he was involved with wasn’t some Darwinist means to survive but adopted behavior. And what if this rapper, who is still very young, didn’t realize this until his fourth project?
The answer to each one of these questions is found in IDK’s Iwasverybad album.
IDK, formerly known as Jay IDK, grew up in a middle-class family. He didn’t have to rob and steal to survive, he did it because he was in the wrong places at the wrong times.
As expected, this album sounds like the flowing stream of consciousness of a troubled teen: At times it’s aggressive, at other times it’s laid back, and there are times when it’s reflective. Even while sounding like an album that has personality disorder, IDK still manages to string together a cohesive narrative.
In this albums short 35-minute runtime, IDK goes through having his teachers call his home, robbing a pizza shop, having sex in the backseat of a car, and even ending up in prison. The first half of this album is about IDK’s trouble-making.
This album provides a fresh take on the coming of age stories we’re used to. Starting at “No Shoes on the Rug, Leave Them At the Door” it undergoes a drastic tonal change and even has a parable at the end. I could tell you what it is, but I’ll let you find out. Give it a listen and let me know what you think.