Album Review | IDK – USEE4YOURSELF

This album was released on July 9th this year. Honestly, I don’t think I’m gonna like this project that much. I didn’t care for most of the singles I heard. The main reason I’m checking this out is because I’ve enjoyed some of the music I’ve heard from IDK in the past. I think his polarizing 2019 album is pretty great despite having a botched concept. The music itself was very enjoyable. I think IDK is a competent MC, but sometimes the music he makes just feels empty to me. I haven’t been crazy about his IDK & FRIENDS 🙂 extended plays just because the songs felt really generic and stale. So yeah, I’m not really going into this album with high expectations, but I’m sure there’ll be at least a handful of songs that I enjoy.

As always, I’ll write about the songs I actually enjoyed before discussing the tracks that I won’t be returning to. This album has a loose concept about the importance of love, which I think is cool. Unfortunately he doesn’t really explore this concept that much on the album. For example, on the first actual song, Santa Monica Blvd, he doesn’t really mention anything about it until the very end of the second verse.

BMX, I ain't stuntin' for free
On my mama, my mama deceased
So you know that it's truth when I speak
Matador, I ain't runnin' from beef
Mike Tyson, that's why my hunger so deep
I replied, ain't no love in the streets
Also, there wasn't no love in my home
So only get love when it's comin' from me, preach

The song is still kinda good to me overall though. I like the hard-hitting production from Blue Rondo, Bobby Raps & ATL Jacob. It’s not an amazing beat or anything, but it’s enjoyable enough. IDK sounds pretty good on the verses too. I think the opening verse is a bit more interesting than the first one lyrically, but not by a huge margin. The hook isn’t really anything special, but it serves its purpose well enough. I wouldn’t call it a favorite of mine, but it’s definitely a highlight compared to the rest of the material on this album. The next track that I actually liked is called Red. Even though I like this song to an extent, I have to say it’s a huge disappointment. This should’ve been an amazing song, and it’s not. It has all the right ingredients: an Illingsworth placement, and features from fucking MF DOOM & Jay Electronica. Oh, and Westside Gunn is here too, but I don’t really care about him. With that said, his verse at the beginning of this song is pretty good. I also think the production is pretty great. Illingsworth did his thing. I think IDK’s first verse on this track is nice too. I’m not really crazy about the sugary hook on this track, but it’s not bad. The reason this song is such a disappointment is because of the MF DOOM feature. No, he doesn’t have a verse. The man just showed up to say 12 words and then dipped. He might as well not even be here. However, I’d be lying if I said he didn’t sound good over this beat. A verse from him would’ve been awesome. Thankfully Jay Electronica actually performs a full verse at the very end of the song, and it’s easily the best moment on the track.

Every Ertuğrul Bey need a Halime Sultan
To establish a tribe and build masjid roofs on
My life, my sacrifice, my prayer, and my death
Is all for the one God who spareth me breath

I loved his verse. Overall, I think the song is really dope. I just feel like it would’ve been so much better if DOOM actually had a verse, but it is what it is I guess. The next song that I actually like is entitled Hey Auntie. This is where he actually kinda goes in depth with the theme of love. The song reminds me of Growing Pains III by Logic. IDK basically uses the verses to paint the picture of a perfect family who loves each other and has no dysfunctional qualities. It’s just him fantasizing about the family he wishes he grew up with.

The smile is all they want from me
They don't really care what I become or be
As long as I live happily while livin' comfortably
No hangin' with thugs or livin' reckless
Love was in this movie, my auntie the one directin'
Never felt this feelin' and now I'm feelin' neglected
Wishin' we got to bond but instead, I got moles-

This is one of the more emotional moments on the album, which I appreciate. I actually think the verse here is really well written.

A message:
Maybe bein' hurt so much will send a couple blessings
Maybe I could learn from all the pain and get a lesson
I hope that all this pain'll start to lessen
I been holdin' this shit inside too long, like one right's two wrongs
The road of healin', stuck in rush hour like I'm Soo-Yung
A man sayin' how he feel make him feel like Mulan
A bitch in a man's clothes, guess that's what I stand for

The way the song is structured is a little weird. He spits the first 16 bars of the verse twice before spitting 8 more, and then we get 8 bars from Slick Rick of all people. He honestly feels a little out of place on such a personal song, but I’m not gonna lie; he sounded good. I think this is easily one of the best songs on the album. It’s dope. It’s followed by another highlight for me called Cry in Church. As the song title kind of indicates, this is the most emotional track on the project. I feel like this is where the theme of love is explored the best. I think Sevyn Streeter sounds really good on the intro, and IDK actually doesn’t sound too bad singing on the hook either. I found the lyrics in the hook to be pretty relatable.

I'd rather be broke as hell than rich and sitting all alone
'Cause how I'm gon' pay my bail if no one's pickin' up the phone?
I'd rather be good inside than livin' happy on the outside

The first verse on this track is solid, but the second verse is genuinely really goddamn great. I think it’s the best verse on the whole album. It has IDK mourning over his less than desirable childhood. Not only is it a really well-written verse, but it’s also just really well-performed. At certain points it sounded like IDK was crying in the middle of the verse.

Don't ask if I need a tissue
I don't need no fuckin' tissue
These ain't tears, they're just something in my eye
So please don't press the issue
Please don't press no buttons
One of these things for self-destruction
Forgot which one, I ain't read instructions
That right there is the key to my suffering

After the second verse, IDK included audio of DMX’s Prayer IV from the Great Depression, and it fits the whole church theme of the song really well. This is easily the best song on the project. It’s the emotional climax of the album. I think it’s dope as hell. The closing song on the album is a skit in which IDK leaves a message for his deceased mother. It’s pretty emotional stuff. One thing I haven’t mentioned up to this point is that the transitions between each track on this album are smooth as hell, which I really appreciate. Cry in Church segues really nicely into this last track, which makes it more enjoyable for me. I think it’s a pretty good skit. Now I’ll talk about the tracks I didn’t like. I got pretty much nothing out of the opening skit, 3018091821. It sounds like it’s pretty well-produced, but it’s just not interesting to me. I’m not gonna pretend to have a huge issue with it though. It’s a fine intro. Track 3 is called Dogs Don’t Lie, and it’s not bad.

I think IDK’s verses on this track are cool, and the beat is solid. The hook is okay too. Honestly, there’s really nothing about the track that I don’t like to some extent. I just don’t think it has much replay value. I don’t see myself returning to it. It’s also got a really abrupt ending that kinda threw me off at first, but that’s just a nitpick. It’s an okay track. The following track is called Truth, and I think it’s pretty lame. It’s just a 33 second interlude in which IDK spits 8 uninteresting bars with a boring flow. It feels utterly pointless. However, since it’s less than a minute long it’s hard to really be mad at it. I think it’s a mediocre track. Track 5 is a single that I heard prior to the full album entitled PradadaBang.

This song is just really generic to me. Nothing about this track stands out at all. The instrumental is kinda cool, and Young Thug & IDK both sound fine over it. Their flows are solid, and they delivered their lines well. Nothing about this song stands out in a bad way. The problem is that nothing about it stands out to me in a good way either. It’s just really dull to me. This sounds like something that’d be on one of those aforementioned IDK & FRIENDS 🙂 extended plays. I don’t think this is a bad song at all, but it’s just not something I’d return to. I find it very mediocre. The following track, Shoot My Shot, is a bit better.

Most of what I said about PradadaBang applies to this song. I don’t really like the beat on this track as much, and the content doesn’t interest me at all, but I think IDK rapped well here. The first verse is decent, and the feature from Offset is okay. The best moment of the song is easily the third verse. I actually think IDK had a really nice flow here. The verse is short, but I think it’s pretty good. Again, this isn’t the most interesting song, but I wouldn’t mind listening to it if somebody else put it on. I think it’s okay. Track 8 is an utterly pointless skit entitled Jelly. It’s just some British nigga hollerin’ about how people try to make him jealous. It’s not interesting at all. It’s followed by Puerto Rico, which I thought was another mediocre song. It samples the same track that Flying Lotus flipped for Massage Situation. I’d rather just listen to the FlyLo song, but the beat here isn’t bad. IDK sings on this track instead of rapping, and I don’t think he sounds amazing or anything, but his vocals are sufficient. The hook is fine. The actual verse from IDK did absolutely nothing for me. The second verse from Lucky Daye was more entertaining sonically, but all the lyrics went in one ear and out the other. I don’t think it’s a bad song at all, but it’s just really flat to me. Nothing about it stands out. I feel like I’d like it more if I’d never heard the aforementioned FlyLo song, but I don’t know for sure. It’s another mediocre track to me. It’s followed by a really short song called Temporary Love. IDK is pretty much absent from this song. It’s performed by SiR, who did a pretty great job in my opinion. I think his vocals sound really good, and the production here from Blue Rondo is actually really nice. It’s not a bad song at all. It’s just so short that I don’t really get much out of it. I feel like it could’ve been extended into a full song, but it feels more like an interlude than anything, especially since IDK doesn’t have a vocal contribution. I think it’s a decent track overall. It’s followed by 10 Feet, which is another one of the better tracks on the album in my opinion. It has a very pretty beat in my opinion. I’m kind of indifferent towards the uncredited feature from Mother Marygold. I don’t mind her here though. The song is pretty much just about fucking, so it’s not particularly interesting to me, but I do think it sounds good. The highlight of the song is the feature from T-Pain. I think IDK’s verses are fine. He didn’t really have the most interesting flow, but it probably would’ve felt out of place if he had a more aggressive cadence. I think this song is cool sonically. It’s just not really my style. I don’t like songs like this. It’s okay though. It’s followed by Keto, which is the only song on this album that I would say is actually bad. I don’t care for production here from the Neptunes. It sounds too much like House music to me, which is a genre I’ve never liked. The opening verse from IDK is solid, but I can’t stand any of the features on this track. The hook is performed by someone named City Rominiecki, and his voice is fucking awful. He somehow sounds like a more robotic version of Desiigner. The second and third verses are performed by Swae Lee & Rico Nasty respectively. I cannot stand their voices. I’ve never been able to get into Rico Nasty in the past, and it’s because I find her voice to be super grating. Swae Lee doesn’t have a particularly pleasant voice to me either. Their flows and lyrics are fine. I just hate how they sound. This shit sounds like ass to me. I think the song is terrible. It’s followed by 1995, which is an okay song. I think the content is pretty interesting. This is one of the few tracks in which he actually kinda explores the album’s theme of love. Unfortunately, there’s another uncredited feature from City Rominiecki, who kinda ruins the song for me. He’s easily my least favorite aspect of this album. I think he sounds awful. The verses on this track from IDK are nice though.

Seventeen years of mama comin' home
No hug, no love, no kiss, not even a "Hello"
Just "Did you wash the dishes? Did you fold my clothes?"
Oh no, let me hurry up, mama on thе road
What's love? I say, "IDK," that mean I don't know
In this case, barеly room for love, barely room for growth
I wanna cry but I never do, it ain't good to show
I wanna die but I never do, can't go like a ho

The hook on this track is nothing special, and same goes for the jazzy instrumental. The second verse has a “semen” double entendre, which I appreciated.

That's how it sound inside of my mama's head
Stepfather ain't comin' home, he gettin' head
Claimin' he busy, he on a business trip
When really, he with a trick, she suckin'—
I had to let that sink in
'Cause when them days came, it affected the way I see men

I think this track has some of the best rapping on the album, but the song as a whole just isn’t very entertaining to me. I didn’t care for the hook or the feature from City Rominiecki, and the beat isn’t anything special to me. I think it’s an okay song though. The last track that I wanna talk about is called Peloton.

The beat on this track is solid, and I think the sung hook from IDK is okay. I don’t think this is a bad song, but it just feels really out of place. This should’ve been between 10 Feet & Keto. I don’t know why it’s grouped in with the songs that are actually about love. I guess since it’s about relationships it kinda has a theme of love. It’s just way less personal than the tracks that surround it. This should not have been in between 1995 & Hey Auntie. The song itself is fine though. I just find it to be very mediocre. The beat is kinda cool, but aside from that this song did nothing for me.

This album is kinda mediocre to me. I just don’t find most of the songs interesting. The best tracks are the songs in which he narrows in on the subject of love, but for the most part he keeps things very surface level. It feels like more of a loose theme than a strong concept. I guess that was the case with IDK’s previous album. With Is He Real? I cared more about the actual music than the theme of religion, but it’s flipped with this latest album; I care more about the theme of love than the music here. I found most of the beats to be pretty flat, and IDK’s performances for the most part were just slightly above average. There were very few moments where I was impressed by a flow or a rhyme scheme. I feel like this is probably his most accessible album to a mainstream audience. The songs are just really generic to me. That’s my main issue with the album. The songs just don’t stand out. It’s very conventional. This album isn’t even really bad though. It’s just average. I don’t regret listening to it because I at least got a handful of enjoyable enough songs. It’s a fine project.

Favorite Song: Cry in Church
Least Favorite Song: Keto


Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album.

Grade: C-

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