Tardy Album Review | IDK – Is He Real?

This album was released on September 4th this year. Believe it or not, this was actually one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I absolutely loved every single I’d heard from it prior to its release. I loved IDK’s 2017 album, IWASVERYBAD. His EP from last year wasn’t really that great, but I still liked it to some extent, and it seemed like more of a transitional project meant to hold fans over rather than a full fledged release. Everything he released after that project that I’ve heard has been fantastic though. I’ve loved every single track. Once the album actually came out, my excitement kinda dissipated because a lot of my friends seemed to not really care for it. Some people I follow thought it was amazing though. One person even called it one of the best albums he’d ever heard in his life, so that was kinda shocking. I think I’m gonna really enjoy this album, but I doubt I’ll be on that level. However, if I end up just thinking this album is okay, I will honestly be very disappointed. I have faith that I’ll love it though.


I thankfully ended up thinking this album was pretty great. It wouldn’t make a year end list for me unless I maybe did like 50 of my favorite Hip Hop albums, but even then it’d be very low on that list. I do really like this album though. There are a couple tracks that I’m not crazy about, but I wouldn’t use the word “bad” to describe any of them. I’ve come to realize that pretentiousness and narcissism are the two greatest sins any artist can commit in the eyes of music twitter, so I imagine that’s why most of my friends dislike this project. It’s true that IDK seems to believe that he’s one of the deepest musical geniuses of our generation. That kinda thing doesn’t typically bother me as long as I actually enjoy the music, so I don’t give a shit about that. The lack of self awareness is kind of hilarious though. Anyway, I think I’m just gonna talk about the whole album in the proper order of the track listing. It begins with Cloud Blu, which is pretty much just an introductory skit.

I do not like this skit at all. It’s just hard to take seriously. I never wanna hear kids talk no matter what they’re saying. I hate children. However, I will admit that the production from Rascal & IDK is pretty great. The voice acting from Maximilian Battle makes me feel as if I’m listening to a Pixar movie, which isn’t really a good thing for me personally. The way it ends is unintentionally hilarious though just because it’s so fucking edgy. I like the production on this track, but I’m never gonna listen to it again because it’s just some kid talking about how heaven is great, but it’s not real. It’s followed by 42 Hundred Choices, which is the first real song on the album.

I think the production on this track is fucking awesome, and IDK’s flow on the verse is perfect. The verse itself isn’t amazing or anything, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The hook is pretty nice too. It’s a dope song, but I feel like I’d probably like it more if it was more fleshed out. It’s about half as long as it should be. I still like it a lot though. It’s dope. The next track is an interlude featuring DMX called The “E” in Blue.

I actually think it’s a really cool interlude. DMX basically plays the role of a pastor, who says a prayer while IDK is drowning in what I assume is some sort of fucked up baptism. You kinda hear everything from IDK’s perspective. It’s very cool. The next track, Alone, is the first real highlight on the album for me.

I think the production from IDK, Razjah & Eden Eliah Nagar is amazing, and the sung hook is pretty good. The melodic first verse is great too, but I love the second verse much more. I think the one thing that could’ve made this better would be if he had a third verse where he really went in because the two verses on this track are pretty short. I still love the song though. It’s far better than any of the preceding material. However, the following track, 24, is even better.

24

It’s one of the singles that I heard before hearing the full project, and I fucking love it. The beat from BLWYRMND is awesome. It kinda sounds like Kendrick Lamar’s HUMBLE., except it’s actually good. The hook is fantastic too. There’s unfortunately only one verse on the song, which is a little disappointing, but I do like the verse itself quite a bit. His flow is great. The first time I heard the song I don’t think I even realized how short it is. I don’t really mind the length that much though because I feel like this beat would get a little stale if it lasted any longer. The song is dope af though, and probably my third favorite track on the album. The next song is called Lilly.

Once I reached this point on the album, I realized that he hadn’t really delved into the supposed concept of the album at all. He hadn’t really said much of anything about religion or the existence of God, and what little he did say was very surface level. I didn’t really give a shit though because the actual songs were still very enjoyable to me. Anyway, the beat on Lilly from IDK, Rascal, Frank Dukes, Eden Eliah Nagar & Dante Marrinelli is dope as hell, but the song itself is a low point on the album for me. I do like it though. It’s not my least favorite track. I guess this song is supposed to be about giving in to vices and sins and stuff like that. He raps a lot about sex, but it doesn’t really qualify as Pornocore. It’s not vulgar or over the top enough for that label. I think the sung hook is solid, and the two verses are decent. It’s definitely one of the most underwhelming tracks, but I do like it to some extent. I probably wouldn’t ever return to it again if the production wasn’t so good to me though. It’s followed by Porno, which features Pusha T & J.I.D.

Porno

The production is fucking awesome. It almost sounds kind of Neptunes-inspired. It definitely makes sense for Pusha T to rap over it. I think the first verse from IDK is fantastic. This is the first song on the album in which IDK kinda tries to tackle the religious themes, which I think he accomplishes well enough in the first verse.

The bible say beatin’ my dick and killin’ is equal
But that don’t add up ’cause the amount of times
That I milk my shit I’ll probably be considered serial

The content is obviously very sexual, but not in a super vulgar and off-putting way. I really loved IDK’s verse, but I was unfortunately let down by Pusha T’s performance. Nothing about his verse really stands out at all. I think it’s okay, but it’s one of the weakest verses on the album, and definitely the weakest verse I’ve heard from Pusha T since listening to JESUS IS KING. The hook with Kapri Styles is pretty good, and I think the sung refrain is cool too. I enjoyed the final verse from J.I.D, but it wasn’t anywhere near as good as IDK’s performance. Overall, I think it’s a dope track, but it’s not nearly as great as I was expecting. I honestly think I would’ve liked it more if IDK handled all the verses himself. It’s still a dope track though. I fuck with it. Track 8 is called I Do Me…You Do You, and it features Tyler the Creator.

I think the sung intro from IDK & JESSCX sounds really fucking good, and the production is fantastic. However, the main course of this song is basically just a conversation between IDK & Tyler the Creator in which Tyler explains his spiritual beliefs. This is one of the only songs on the album that I don’t care for. I’d never listen to this again. I just don’t really have any desire to listen to these two guys have a basic conversation in which Tyler says what a lot of people already think. It’s not interesting to me. I don’t think it’s the eye-opening epiphany that they probably intended it to be. I suppose it’s an okay track, but I’m never listening to it again. I also don’t care for the following song, December.

The production is solid I guess. I’m just very underwhelmed by the verses from IDK on this song. The hook is cool, but this isn’t really the kind of song I wanted to hear on this project. IDK’s singing throughout the whole track, and it’s not bad, but it’s just not really that captivating to me. I think Burna Boy is a solid artist—that album he dropped earlier this year was decent—and his performance here was fine, but nothing about this song is really entertaining enough to make me want to return to it. I’m not sold on this song, but I do think that it’s decent. I just won’t ever listen to it again. Thankfully, it’s followed by one of the best songs on the album, European Skies.

I really love the mellow, melodic instrumental from Calvin Valentine, and the sung hook from IDK actually sounds really good. Honestly, this is the only song on the project that really tackles the religious theme of the album.

It’s awful how often we argue about these religions
What’s right and what’s sinnin’? Who’s lost and who’s winnin’?
While the winters of the ones without homes are too chillin’
Would hell be a better place? They say it’s warm there
They say we all sin, so our people would swarm there
There must be a lot of room in Heaven because only a baby is pure
So maybe we’re born there
Maybe the division of religion would cause us to be torn there

I really wish there were more songs like this on the album. I like the other tracks, but a more focused, well thought out record would be appreciated. This song is great. The verse is fantastic, and the instrumental outro is glorious. The vocals from Javante are great, and the violin contributions from Yasmeen Al-Mazeedi, Javier Iglesias, Drew Forde & Camille Miller, and the guitar from Erez Sivan… It’s all great. I think the song is amazing. It’s followed by No Cable, which is another highlight for me.

I was a bit taken aback when I first heard the song due to the sample. This has got to be one of the most overused samples I’ve ever heard. I immediately recognized it from J. Cole’s Sideline Story as well as Nipsey Hussle’s Status Symbol. I think it was on the latest Clear Soul Forces album as well. The beat on this track is good. I’m just tired of the sample. Anyway, the Spoken Word intro from GLC is pretty cool, and the first verse is nice too. However, the second verse stood out much more to me.

Listen, there’s a small chance that I could probably be lynched
In 2019, and probably still in 2020
And probably 20 years later ’cause this shit ain’t gon’ leave
It’s never gon’ end, that’s why I gotta scribble this pen

The sung hook sounds fantastic as well. Even though the sample choice annoyed me, I still think this is one of the better songs on the album. It’s dope af to me. The following song is called Digital, and I think it was the first single I heard from the album.

Digital.jpg

I fucking love this song. The autotuned bridge goes over surprisingly well in my opinion. I think it sounds fantastic. The hook is fucking awesome, and the verses are pretty good too.

Fully auto with the chopper, make an opper drop up
That’s the same shit that send a nigga straight to lock up
That’s the system put in place they use to try to stop us
The same system put in place that niggas always fall for

This song has more to do with racial and criminal injustice than religion, much like the previous track. It’s dope af though. I love it. The penultimate song is called Michael What TF.

This isn’t one of my favorites on the album, but I do like it quite a bit. The production is dope af, and the hook is great too. I’d noticed a lot of Kanye West influence throughout this album up to this point on my first listen, but this is the track where it’s most evident. Everything about this song from a sonic aspect screams Kanye West, from the production, to the hook, down to his flow. It all sounds like something Kanye would have done from around 2008 to 2012. The song is basically about IDK’s stepfather being a complete piece of shit.

My stepfather text me and told me that mama died
Ain’t have the balls for a call
Now he just taking the house and the wealth
Keep the life insurance bread for himself
Had the nerve to move a bitch in the house
And told grandma and grandpa he kicking ’em out

Like I said, it’s not one of my favorites on the album, but I do fuck with it. The song is dope. The final song is named after his deceased mother, Julia…

I think this is my favorite song on the album. I’m not sure though. It’s either this one or European Skies. I haven’t decided yet. Anyway, I think the production here from Thelonious Martin is gorgeous, and the verse from IDK is super emotional and poignant.

I saw one day that mama was losing hair
And losing her weight, then eventually losing her brain
‘Til I put two and two together, confusion was strain
Since my auntie told me the truth, I’ll never be the same
When she died is when I heard my stepfather gave her AIDS

Surprise

I think the conversation that ends the song is pretty interesting, but I can definitely see how some people would be annoyed by it because he doesn’t come to a conclusion at all. It’s basically just him saying “Oh well, I guess we’ll never know if God exists ¯\_(ツ)_/¯” I personally don’t really mind it though. There’s really nothing that I don’t love about the song. I think it’s amazing.


This album is great. Again, it didn’t end up being one of the best albums of the year like I was expecting it to be, but I am satisfied. At this point, if you’ve heard the album or seen any discussion around it, you probably know what the greatest flaw is. The concept isn’t really explored at all. It’s more of a loose theme than a strong concept. Most of the album doesn’t seem to have anything to do with religion or philosophy. I also think a lot of the features were kinda disappointing. Pusha T is easily the most disappointing one. J.I.D was cool, but Tyler the Creator, DMX & GLC had relatively insignificant contributions to the album. They’re features could’ve been replaced by any random dude that IDK happens to be friends with. I also feel like a lot of the songs on the frontend of the album are bizarrely short. Approximately half of the songs on this album are less than three minutes long. This shit is dope though. IDK is rapping really well throughout the project, and the production and hooks are fantastic. I just wish the actual content was a bit more substantive and fleshed out. I’m satisfied though. This shit is dope.

Favorite Song: Julia…
Least Favorite Song: December

82

Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album.

B+
Grade: B+

Tell me if I'm trippin'

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s