Every Friday, our new music feature Rap Song of the Week breaks down the essential hip-hop tracks you need to hear. Check out the full playlist here. This week, J.I.D recruits 21 Savage and Baby Tate for “Surround Sound.”
For the past several years, it’s felt like Dreamville’s J.I.D has been on the precipice of stardom. His last album, 2018’s DiCaprio 2, spawned a pair of Gold singles, and his performances on “Down Bad” and “Costa Rica” (from the compilation Revenge of the Dreamers III) exhibited his knack for crafting a catchy hook while still being an explosive, technically gifted rapper. Among a stacked roster of MCs, J.I.D stands tall.
2022 is shaping up to be the kind of year that will bring the Atlanta spitter to the next level. J.I.D’s on the easily visible third line of the poster for his Coachella debut, and has scored a crossover hit thanks to his Imagine Dragons collaboration, “Enemy,” which doesn’t water down his rhymes. That brings us to “Surround Sound” featuring 21 Savage, his biggest collaboration to date besides Dreamville honcho J. Cole. After dropping the Yung from her name, Baby Tate comes along for the ride, too, contributing the bridge.
Expectations for the track are set high from the very beginning with an Aretha Franklin sample (“One Step Ahead,” previously flipped on Mos Def’s “Ms. Fat Booty”). Like his labelmates EARTHGANG, J.I.D welcomes the challenge with a chorus in which he boasts, “Putting rap on my back and I’m Black and snatching crowns.” He proceeds to lay down a verse with double entendres and multisyllabic lines before passing the mic to 21 Savage, whose lyricism would typically be overlooked by Dreamville fans.
Not too many of his peers would be comfortable mixing gun talk with making sound financial decisions, but 21 makes it sound easy. “Back in the day, I invest in the block,” he raps. “Fast forward, now I’m investing in stocks/ I put a drum on the Heckler and Koch/ Don’t play ’cause I’m very invested in shots.”
Just when you think “Surround Sound” is over, the beat switches up and J.I.D lets loose with a chest-thumping verse. “Give me a joke, heard the n**** say you the next? No, no, no,” he scoffs. “I’m the best, tell them bitches stop the motherfuckin’ press/ Press stop, fuck a Top 5 list.”
J.I.D’s long-awaited The Forever Story is expected to drop sometime this year, and we can hardly wait.