IDK Questions Everything On "Is He Real?"
IDK, born Jason Mills, is an American rapper, born in London and raised in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The name IDK stands for Ignorantly Delivering Knowledge, and the upcoming artist has proved his name true time and time again.
Gaining traction on his 2015 mixtape, Subtrap, where he plays and narrates both sides of the drug game, whilst acting as several different characters that he created (Chris, Jon Jon, Matt, Ed, and King Trappy III), IDK soon released another mixtape, titled The Empty Bank, which premiered on Forbes. The tape focused on the concept of money and how it is so tightly interwoven in modern society today, specifically the decisions people make because of and for it.
In 2017, Mills released his third project, IWASVERYBAD, which gained him even more acclaim and a solid following. Though Mills has said that the project was not his debut, many of his fans see it as so.
Shortly after his third tape, Mills announced the coming of his actual debut album, Is He Real? which was supposed to be released the very next year of 2018. Instead the artist dropped IDK & Friends to tide hungry fans over till the album’s final release. On September 4th, 2019 after the drop of two singles, Is He Real? arrived.
Cloud Blu is the opening track on the album, and is something of the prologue into the subject matter IDK is tackling. It depicts a child, named Max, being asked “What happens when you die?”. The child proceeds to take the listener on a spiritual take through what seems to be what happens on the path to heaven. However at the end of the track, Max claims it was all a dream and that, quote “God isn’t fucking real”, intriguing the listener to follow into the album’s second track.
42 Hundred Choices could be a reference to the approximately 4200 religions and spiritual traditions that are present in the world today. These ways of seeing the world are crucial in the decision making process humans have formulated over the years. This track is one of the shorter ones but makes just as big of a impact as some of the full-length tracks on the album, hitting hard with floor vibrating 808s and a catchy hook at the end, which leads into the first interlude of the album.
The “E” in Blue is seemingly told from the perspective of someone being baptized. DMX acts as a bishop, saying a word prayer that flows in and out of clarity, due to the person being submerged over and over in the water below, muffling the words. DMX is known to be a religious person, so his placement on the track fits quite well.
The interlude bleeds nicely into the next track Alone, which is a comeback anthem calling out all of IDK’s haters and shouting out all of his supporters. The beat rides smoothly and IDK delivers with subtle yet hard hitting lyricism, and yet another catchy hook, which puts this song as one of our favorites on the track list.
The song 24 was actually one of IDK’s promotional singles for “Is He Real?”, being the second single to be released. Hard-hitting piano keys and “The Empty Bank”-esque lyricism bring IDK back to his mixtape days, with the production quality of today. The track follows the religious themes of the album by referencing Matthew 6:24, the verse that the track is named after, in which it states: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Lilly is a story of the heights of fame, money, and women, and the falls that come with them. With a spooky melody overlying some consistent 808s, IDK details the sins and mistakes people commit in the name of fortune and lavish lifestyles. In the background a sample adlibing the word “Devil” is sprinkled in throughout the song, as if IDK himself is flirting with the Devil.
IDK’s song Porno is probably our favorite track on the entire album and marks the first collaboration between IDK, JID, and rap legend, Pusha-T. The track entails boasts of relationships with beautiful women, with Pusha coming in from the females perspective and their lust for men with felonies and charges, whilst JID rides the beat out with a serenading verse that sets the tone for a sexual rendezvous with a significant other. Pornstar Lavish Styles makes a surprising guest appearance on the hook, making the already hype song almost infectious.
I Do Me . . . You Do You is a continuation of the album’s main theme, religion. Tyler, the Creator makes a guest appearance on the interlude, after a beautiful intro, Tyler is questioned by IDK if he believes there may be a higher power. Tyler responds by saying of course there must be because someone had to have created all of this. But he believes that God as a concept and is within everyone. It’s not just some almighty being or the end all be all of humanity, but its what you believe in, what brings you happiness.
The track ends with a pivotal statement by IDK: “Tellin' us today, that a man built Noah’s Ark Is just as crazy as us tellin' a caveman We built robot bitches we can fuck”
One of the softer tracks on the album, December is considered the closest thing on Is He Real? to a love song. IDK goes on to details the things he loves about his partner and what he would do for them. Burna Boy makes a surprise feature on the track and adds his own tales of a girl he admires and wants to see prosper. The track has a soft afrobeat to it and the melody overlays beautifully bringing the song to a pristine finish.
European Skies is a religiously and politically charged track that heavily delves into the inconsistencies of Christianity and the Bible, as well as the misconceptions brought forth by these misinterpretations. IDK even wonders if Hell would be a better place due the sinful nature of the human race. He also muses on how much room Heaven must have due to there being only pure things born there, such as babies. The song is heavy yet soft and doesn't force or induce any bias, simply showing IDK’s various thought processes on religion.
IDK’s No Cable starts off with a prayer/confirmation of faith from GLC. He song touches on the desensitization and short attention spans of modern society today in the wake of terrorism, racism, television, social media, radical religion, and the loss of oneself and faith in the media for the way portray many serious issues. The song bleeds into the next track with a female voice saying “I like that”.
Digital is the first promotional single to be released for Is He Real? The track seems to be a continuation of No Cable above, speaking more so on gun violence and the how lucky IDK was to be able to look back on it all from the position he has placed himself in right now in the music industry. The track has an extremely catchy hook and was produced by Karl Banx, who also produced a majority of the tracklist for the artist’s IWASVERYBAD tape.
Michael What TF is somewhat of a prelude for the next track, detailing the issues Mills has with his stepfather and how these issues had affected his mother’s health, such as him keeping the insurance money for himself and threatening to kick Mills’ grandparents out of the family home after bringing in a new girl in the his mother’s absence. The song is funky, dark, and groovy, holding the heaviness of the subject matter while allowing the listener to bop their head and vibe.
The final track, Julia… is undoubtedly the heaviest song on the track. The artist finally goes into detail about the actual events of his mother’s death, and everything that happened prior to it. At the end of the song, after lyrically guiding us through his denial of the truth, IDK says on the final line: “When she died is when I heard my stepfather gave her AIDS”
Mills’ states in a public explanation on Instagram, that he released Julia… as not just a way to help himself heal, but also to do the same for the world. IDK says he had to clear the booth of everyone except for his engineer when he recorded.
In all, though it sometimes escapes the realm it tries to remain in, in order to delve into other topics, the central point of IDK’s album still hits and hits hard. Question everything, good and bad, and always keep an open mind, love in your heart, and your head on a swivel. The artist’s debut album is one for the books, and has set the stage for the Maryland-native to be one of the greatest to ever do it.
IDK - “Is He Real?” - 9/10
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