By Jack M. Angelo, managing editor
Atlanta has been at the forefront of hip-hop for at least fifteen years. Whether it began with T.I., Gucci Mane, or Young Jeezy, the Georgian city is the center of trap music. Even the scene’s more contemporary movers, like Metro Boomin and Travi$ Scott, who hail from other parts of the south, have flocked to Atlanta and immersed themselves in the sound that dominates the airwaves today. Atlanta has slipped itself into everything, from pop to country to EDM to rock and beyond. In parallel form, trap music’s signature elements have been infused into the mainstream’s biggest hits.
Despite seemingly every rapper from the area nowadays conforming to the exact same sound and delivery, Atlanta continues to produce some of the best rappers of the new school. 28-year-old East Atlanta native Destin Route, also known as J.I.D burst onto the scene on his own wave recently, earning praise from both sides of the aisle for his lyrical abilities and storytelling, as well as his ability to blend in seamlessly with the new sounds of hip-hop.
After earning his stripes as a part of Spillage Village, and opening for Bas and Ab-Soul, in early 2017, it was announced that J.I.D had signed to Dreamville, J. Cole’s exclusive label. He soon released The Never Story, a well-received album that took the rapper across the country again on his own tour, and cultivated a ravenous fan base ready to eat up anything he released. This buzz landed J.I.D on the 2018 XXL Freshman cover, and his follow up project DiCaprio 2 landed on the favorites list of many publications (including #6 on Stay Up’s list). Route is currently on tour supporting the project, and stopped by MilkBoy ArtHouse in College Park, Md. on March 10, 2019.
The relatively small venue quickly sold out, and the venue was packed well before the show began. Some of the listed openers, including New York native Lou the Human, did not perform. Instead the first listed opener Reason began his set 45 minutes after the scheduled beginning of the event. Throughout the California rapper’s set, he and his DJ frequently reminded the audience that Reason was signed to TDE, the home of Kendrick Lamar and friends. The rapper’s low-key set resonated with plenty, and served as a somewhat mellow opening for the evening.
After a break, a small crew set up cardboard cutouts of the titular Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as Scarlett Johannson, Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie, Matthew McConaughey, and Ansel Elgort, the latter of whom was featured in J.I.D’s recent Off the Zoinkys music video. J.I.D’s DJ introduced the artist, and the night took off.
Opening with The Never Story’s “LAUDER,” J.I.D wasted no time pumping the crowd up. He then explained some of the sampling for his next track “EdEddnEddy,” something he did a few times with different tracks throughout the night. Through most of the set, J.I.D jumped with the audience, hit his speedy flows immaculately, and amped his delivery well beyond his often laid-back studio vocal technique.
Taking time toward the midpoint of his set to slow the pace down with more sentimental songs, J.I.D managed to engage the audience just as easily through these lulls in excitement. The Atlanta rapper’s fans know his many lyrics and readily rap them back to him when prompted. J.I.D and his audience matched each other at every step, screaming back and forth, jumping together and giving MilkBoy ArtHouse one of its most impressive rap shows yet.
J.I.D’s talent is obvious upon first listen to pretty much any of his songs, but watching the 28-year-old perform adds another layer to his already impressive resume. Though he has been making music for a while now, J.I.D still seems like a newcomer with endless potential. Despite creating some of the best music out today, somehow J.I.D’s best work still seems ahead of him.