It’s a good sign in 2021 that even more fringe artists are managing to find a degree of mainstream success without having to dilute their art. Two of rap’s most consistent wild cards, J.I.D. and Denzel Curry, known for staccato flows and rage-fuelled rhetoric respectively, embody this phenomenon. It seems like Kendrick opened a lot of doors. After their blood-soaked battle in a boxing ring last year, they have buried the hatchet and linked up for a remix of J.I.D.’s track “Bruuuh”. This is one of many loosies he has been dropping, presumably intended to generate a buzz for a J.I.D. album this year. Well, that’s precisely what he’s done with every track. If record shops were still a thing I’d be queuing up outside at 7am on release day.
The track is a menacing, downbeat trap affair, all haunting pianos and seething bass drops. It’s probably good music to play while driving around the city at night with a score to settle. J.I.D. steps up first and reels off his signature meticulous yet effortless flow, winding out expansive rhyme patterns and switching styles between technical, melodic and rowdy seamlessly. Turns like this remind us that his current profile and the hype behind him are fully justified. J.I.D. talks about his humble beginnings and his current state of invincibility.
“I ain’t never hustled for a necklace
Trying to get the fam straight, get us out of debt, shit
That shit got testy, I feel Dizzy Gillespie
In the room pack me, Carl, Izzy and Precious
Out the womb I was last, I’m the youngest of seven
Birthday same day as the reverend
Birthday same day as the devil”
Just as you’re convinced this J.I.D. verse will not end, nor do you want it to, he is rudely interrupted by Denzel Curry, whose introductory drop is a guaranteed drink-thrower. Denzel amps the track up with pure energy and flair, firing off rapid syllables and presumably battering the booth where he recorded it. The guy is a force of nature. He calmly sets the scene for the first half of the verse before leaving Earth in the second.
“Bitch, the name’s Denzel
The flames exhale, my pain’s on braille
You feel it? Similar to fish on a skillet
Hook and a line intertwined when I reel it like films
Movie groovy, jinkies, Scooby
Very spooky, soul is black as Moolies
Talk like Pootie, I spit, fire loogies
Coming off the kufi with the blues, no Tookie”
This remix is a mean-mugging banger, J.I.D.’s intricacy and Denzel’s brute force providing perfect counterbalance. It’s a demonstration of two of rap’s current frontrunners doing their pre-game stretch before blindsiding the opposition with dazzling virtuosity. Hopefully this year. I haven’t managed to bring myself to “attend” a virtual live show yet, but if these two announce one I might swallow my pride and suspend my cynicism.