Hailing from Maryland, IDK has been busy showing the world how to be independent and successful. Slipping through music’s industry infrastructure, the artists doing it alone have always found it harder to break through to the world; whether that was due to the old need for traditional labels, or the current oversaturation of musicians on every platform possible. But breaking the mould, this 29-year-old from the DMV is now one of rap’s most promising rising stars, and after the stellar lineup on his debut ‘ISHEREAL?’, his second record ‘USEE4YOURSELF’ continues to show off IDK’s impeccable musicality over 17 tracks.
- READ MORE: IDK: “In prison, I made a plan to be a rapper, mapped it out and then actually executed it”
The singles on ‘USEE4YOURSELF’ showcase IDK’s braggadocio as he goes toe-to-toe with two of rap’s best tongue-twisting spitters; the YSL-loving Young Thug, and Migos’ Offset. Standing tall alongside giants, IDK proves he can hang wherever he wants as he utilises his chameleon-like flows to manoeuvre through trap instrumentals. ‘Pradadabang’ is a great example: starting off with a clean-cut verse full of Thug’s usual tricks, it’s a track where you can see IDK go beast-mode: “Name one n**** that live what they talkin’ ’bout / Death to a n**** that lie on the trap house”.
When he’s not hanging out with the trapper rappers and living it large, however, he puts his heart on his sleeve in emotionally vulnerable ballads. There’s a beautiful tone to IDK’s singing voice that jars brilliantly with the aggression of his verses. On the smooth but short ‘Temporary Love’, he milks the fact that he can hit the high notes, singing the opening ad-libs in a lullaby-like falsetto. The audible diversity he provides on ‘USEE4YOURSELF’ isn’t much of a surprise if you go back through his discography, where time and time again, other records prove how multi-faceted the 29-year-old is. Still, you can’t deny that it’s breath-taking every time.
‘Hey Auntie’ also sees him perfecting his knack for a nostalgic noughties sound. As the violins slide up and down in pitch behind his cocky delivery, IDK makes a track that could easily live on one of Ye’s classic albums. He asserts dominance over fluttery beats with clarity, and, when done right, that cadence never fails to entertain. And talking about how following his dreams has led him to a happier life gives the record an optimistic ending – finishing his second album with class.
Despite turning down a deal with Kanye West’s label, the strictly independent star proves that producer-rapper hybrids are still a force to be reckoned with in the rap game. Following on from his eclectic debut, ‘USEE4YOURSELF’ finally etches IDK’s place in rap.
- Release date: July 9
- Release label: Clue