For a hip-hop artist, 27-year-old Jason Mills has a unique relationship with nostalgia.
IDK - 24 (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com
"It's funny how the sh*t I dreamt about's the sh*t I'm livin' now," Mills, known as IDK, reminisces fondly on "Alone," the third track off his narrative debut, Is He Real? "My life's the destination, and I'm the meaning." IDK asks questions both big and small. He regularly reflects on his past relationships and why they didn't work out. "Why don't we fall in love?" he candidly asks on "I Do Me...You Do You." "Why all my brothers tryna infiltrate my circle?" he asks of former friends on "No Cable."
But it's the fallacies of religion that take center stage. "The sperm travelin' to the egg makes more sense than Adam and Evenings of Gospel," he says on "European Skies." "It's awful how often we argue about these religions." The questions posed aren't necessarily inimitable, but IDK's ability to be braggadocious while still questioning the teachings of God is funny and appealing. "The bible say beatin' my d*ck and killin' is equal," he says on "P*rno," "but that don't add up, cause the amount of times that I milk my sh*t I'll probably be considered serial."
With an eclectic range of features, IDK asks many of his collaborators to follow him down the road less traveled. The production on "Michael What TF" is uncharacteristically gritty for a song featuring James Blake, while DMX is asked to fill the role of a pastor and offer a strange spoken-word prayer on the minute-long interlude "The E In Blue." Elsewhere, Tyler, The Creator and IDK dissect religion together in a back and forth conversation on "I Do Me…" Even Burna Boy's signature vocal flourish sounds unrecognizable on "December."
In terms of answering all these questions, IDK admits on "Julia" that questions are sometimes all there is. "To know if we actually even see the same colors, then how can we say there is no God?" he says in the song's final bars. It's an anticlimactic ending considering the album's grandiose setup, but maybe that's the point. Maybe IDK's saying that, sometimes, the biggest questions have the simplest answers.
Is He Real?