Unless you had the distinct honor of attending Isaiah Rashad’s Lil Sunny Tour, you most likely have not become acquainted with IDK.
The Maryland native is a charismatic rapper and performer who has had very little mainstream buzz over the course of his brief career. However, the budding star is prepared to make his first step toward relevancy with the release of his debut studio album, “IWASVERYBAD.” The album is a theatrical account of IDK’s life experiences, detailing his erroneous behavior and his estranged relationship with his mother.
“IWASVERYBAD” is not a cordial introduction. On the opening track, “Mrs. Lynch, Your Son Is The Devil,” IDK brazenly carves out a rather crude image of himself as he explains his deviant tendencies. Although IDK’s depiction of himself is not particularly flattering, he manages to create a persona for the listener to latch onto.
It is not just the scathing lyrics that produce this ominous feeling at the beginning of the album. It’s also the chaotic production. On track two, the production mirrors IDK’s troubled mind as it constantly switches back and forth between the tumultuous instrumental behind the verses and the grand sound that carries the hook. The overall sound only becomes more menacing as the album transitions seamlessly into the hard-hitting “Pizza Shop Extended.” The ferocious energy and the tales of armed robbery elevate the prevailing mood to a level that makes one want to literally bounce off the walls.
The vulgar theme IDK creates with the beginning is the driving force behind the album. Every song feels as though it is dripping with his wild personality. For instance, “Windows Up” is supposed to be his attempt at serenading a young woman, but instead, he makes crass suggestions about hooking up. Though his tone and the production are a lot calmer here than on the rest of the album, IDK cannot help but remind you of his deplorable nature. From the superb sequencing to the emphasis of reoccurring themes, “IWASVERYBAD” possesses a type of cohesiveness that makes every song feel necessary.
Despite coming off as rather rough around the edges, IDK boasts a feathery touch when crafting his music. The small things IDK does on the album make “IWASVERYBAD” feel like a full-on theatrical performance. On track two, IDK uses the banging instrumental to create a mental image of a police team pounding on his door. IDK then adopts a quick-paced but jagged flow that gives the impression he is running from the police and panting heavily. These theatrics add an extra layer to the storytelling and keep the songs compelling.
The album reaches its pinnacle on “No Shoes On The Rug, Leave Them At The Door,” in which IDK flaunts his versatility as an artist and delves into his complicated relationship with his mother. The song opens with a recording reminding IDK he only has 10 minutes left on his phone call from jail. He proceeds to pour his emotions through the phone and admits his mother’s approval is all he ever wanted. However, his inability to do the right thing prevented him from ever obtaining his mother’s love. He reinforces this sentiment by using a womanly voice to represent his mom confronting his younger self. These exchanges are simply riveting. By adding all of this context, IDK is building a character who is not as two-dimensional as the beginning of the album would lead one to believe.
“IWASVERYBAD” does a great job of putting IDK’s abilities on full display, but there are some hiccups along the way. The guest verses rarely add anything of substance and could have been left out completely. The only feature that feels right is the rowdy Chief Keef on “17 Wit A 38.” The album also ends on a rather odd note with the track “Baby Scale.” “Black Sheep, White Dove” feels like it would have been a more appropriate ending to “IWASVERYBAD” after the revelations on the song and the one before it.
IDK’s effort on his debut album deserves applause. One of the hardest things for an artist is finding his identity and connecting with the audience. However, IDK manages to do both while also sporting an assortment of flows and creative ideas. I am sure his next effort will be equally impressive.