Before teaming up with the creative minds at Adult Swim and William Street Records, the 25-year-old Maryland rapper IDK broke onto the hip-hop scene in 2015, with the release of his first mixtape, SubTrap, which gained attention for its mix of suburban hip-hop and trap beats.
IDK—short for “Ignorantly Delivering Knowledge”—first announced the release of his brand new visual album, IWASVERYBAD, in a very intriguing way using a medium that is growing in popularity, through a short subliminal TV spot on late-night television.
He came up with the idea to try and find a new way to drop his album with a visual component, IDK told Billboard in a recent interview. “I was getting my project together and taking beats that sounded like it could be on Adult Swim. Actually, I had the Adult Swim logo as my screensaver. I was seeing it every day, putting it in my mind. Law of attraction. So then, that’s how I came up with the idea,” he said.
His first full-length studio album, IWASVERYBAD, was released in three installments, beginning with the first three tracks, which were released on Sept. 28. The album opens, “Mrs. Lynch, Your Son Is The Devil,” which opens with a short rap skit about the many phone calls to his mother about her son’s behavior growing up. A gospel choir jumps in on the hook, singing “I can’t take this shit” and “You gon’ be bad forever,” before we finally hear IDK jump in with his verse.
Things get really real with track two, “Maryland Ass N****,” featuring Swizz Beatz which opens with the sounds of doors slamming shut, and a cop shouting “PG County Police!” The track is truly a multi-faceted testament to the young rapper’s songwriting abilities.
He and guest star Yung Gleesh unsuccessfully attempt to hold up a “Pizza Shop” in the first music video, which cuts off early, leaving out the two additional verses by none other than MF Doom and Del the Funkee Homosapien.
“Dog Love Kitty” definitely fits the mold for the brand of alternative hip-hop you would expect to hear during an Adult Swim promo. The track is actually a banger and features New Orleans neo-soul singer Mother Mary Gold, whose vocals are sampled in the background.
IDK talks about relationships on the 27-second interlude, “Mama Said ‘Respect the Venus Symbol’ I Didn’t Listen,” before it segues into “Windows Up” a track all about getting down in the back seat of a car. “Birds and Bees” is a much more uptempo track than the rest of the album, but it really captures his versatility as an artist.
Chicago rapper Chief Keef jumps in on the hard-hitting track “17 Wit A 38,” which kicks off the third and final portion of the album with a powerful anecdote about making mistakes and paying the cost. Based on a true story, IDK was incarcerated at 17-years-old, which is how he first discovered that he had a knack for songwriting. In an interview with Shawn Setaro for Forbes, he explained that “once I started making some songs, other inmates wanted to know a little bit more about what I was doing, and they asked me to rap for them. They really liked it, and I made it a goal to come out and try to make something out of the music. That was how everything got started.”
Things take a rather somber turn on the track, “No Shoes on the Carpet, Leave Them at the Door,” a tearjerking tribute told from the perspective of his mother, who died last year, that really tugs at the listener’s heartstrings. He continues to confess his sins and resonates on the guilt while finding inspiration in his mother’s resolve and a hope for a brighter future, on the track “Black Sheep, White Dove.”
The album closes with the track “Baby Scale” featuring Yung Gleesh, a cinematic finale that was released back in August, as part of the Adult Swim Singles program. The music video is almost as ridiculous as the lyrics, which come in at various moments with precision to show that there is a balance between modern, so-called “mumble” rap and the traditional “old school” hip-hop.
RATING: 4.5 / 5
IDK really captures the unpredictability factor that hip-hop needs right now. Using the type of guerilla marketing that Adult Swim is known for and his decision to release the visual album in three installments, the young rapper shows he put a great deal of thought into every aspect of the album, from A-to-Z.
WATCH: “PIZZA SHOP” GUEST STARRING YUNG GLEESH