IDK has been one of my favorite artists to follow, dating back to when he still went by Jay IDK. I always thought, in the back of my mind, that he had a lot of untapped potential. Before IDK went by just three letters, the potential was there but he still hadn’t tapped in as much as he has now. The great thing about life is that it moves at its own pace; evolutions happen when they’re ready to happen, not when your fans want them. With that in mind, the evolution from, say, “Shotty Mouth” to “Shoot My Shot” was one that came naturally from the multifaceted PG County-raised artist.
From his album rollouts to his features, the brother puts his all into his work and it pays off in spades throughout his projects. On USEE4YOURSELF, IDK’s evolution reaches a fever pitch in some ways.
As I said on my review of “PradadaBang,” he’s reaching the levels he always wanted while still being true to what got him in the door in the first place. In other words, he’s still lyrical as hell and gives us stuff for the boombap fans. He never loses sight of what got him to the show. However, he does so while still embracing current sounds and current co-stars at the same damn time. It’s a diverse album that features IDK at his best and never at his worst.
From “Santa Monica Blvd” to “Closure,” he gives us everything we want but also gives us everything that comes with the territory he’s crossing now. From dealing with unnecessary hate, love and lust, life and its winding nature, Blackness (without beating you over the head with BLM symbolism) and so on, he lays it out all out there. But a bunch of introspective lyricism will only get you so far in 2021 hip-hop (trust me, I know this personally through working through The Sorest Loser 2). You’ve got to have something for everyone while still not losing your soul. Albums have to tell your story while also giving lessons for people to follow while also giving us bops. It’s the nature of the beast known as music. One-track minded albums are weak. IDK must feel the same way as I do, because the album can’t be pigeonholed into one subgenre of hip-hop. Instead, it takes a lot of those subgenres, does them well and never loses sight of who IDK has become over the last decade or so.
The album is beautiful on a production level as well, featuring a mix of trunk rattlers and sample-heavy beats. It’s sonically his most-complete project. For example, the smooth and grown “Puerto Rico” features IDK “sanging” to a woman who he wants to be involved with for a bit–even if it’s not necessarily the wisest decision. IDK surprised me a lot here since this one wouldn’t be out of place on, say, a Chris Brown album and it’s not out of place here. On a day where we got a lot of new music, this one is definitely the highlight of what I’ve heard. Check it out below and remember to support dope music in all its forms.