If you’ve ever been to New England in the winter, you know that the weather is no joke. When I hit Boston for my first J.I.D. concert experience, I wasn’t surprised to see a line wrapped around the block. I knew that the young king had a very dedicated fanbase and had been creating quite the legacy for himself. I soon realized that I underestimated his following upon noticing that this line was there two hours before the doors opened and three hours before the show even started. Not to mention, it was cold and pouring rain the entire time. That’s when it hit me – J.I.D. is truly thriving.
He hasn’t been alone in his journey. Atlanta rap collective Spillage Village, which consists of J.I.D, EarthGang (Doctur Dot, Johnny Venus), Hollywood JB and Jordxn Bryant, has been consistently rising in popularity since breaking onto the scene. They’ve connected and evolved with their fans on an emotional journey of self-actualization, discovery, and positive energy. They’ve been an inspiration to people of all ages, across the world, selling out venues small and large, leaving only the remnants of severely destructed stages and a never-ending trail of innovative motivational influence behind them. Still in their youth, this team already has the mindset, the drive, and the willingness to live their dream with no limits.
J.I.D. has been in the game since 2010, and recently signed with Dreamville Records and Interscope Records (which released his official debut single “Never”) in December. His debut studio album, The Never Story, released in March, and has only gotten better since it dropped. While the Boston stop of the Never Had Shit Tour was originally slated for Sonia, the show sold out so fast that they moved it to the Middle East Downstairs, which is almost double the capacity of Sonia. The show still sold out. Quickly.
Matt: I know you met Doctur Dot and Johnny Venus (EarthGang) [also in the room] at Hampton playing football. Are you all still football fans?
J.I.D.: Yea yea, so fuck the Patriots, off top, respectfully. [pauses] It’s not fuck the Patriots actually, I mean like…[gets cut off by Earth Gang]…
EarthGang: It is fuck the Patriots.
Matt: I respect that, honestly. Gotta stay true to your home team, regardless. I ain’t even upset.
J.I.D.: Yea, it ain’t their fault. If we woulda ran the ball, this would be a different conversation. 2nd and 15, you run the ball. [laughs, then immediately sighs] This interview started off sad. [laughs]
Matt: [laughs] My apologies, haha. Ok, ok, what about basketball? Atlanta’s doing good.
J.I.D.: Nah it’s all good…LAKERS! I’m actually a random Lakers fan.
After our sports banter, I dug deeper into J.I.D.’s experience as an indie artist and ended up getting some exclusive info about him and a certain RCA artist who’s also been dominating.
J.I.D.: Spillage Village is like, our shit. We’re under Interscope, but we get to make moves at our own discretion. I always thought it was cool as hell, being a part of something that’s bigger than me, and being able to make music freely. That’s all I really want, or need.
Matt: The “never had shit” mantra hit home for me because I never really had shit. But, like you say in the song “Never,” it didn’t matter to me. Things don’t define your state of happiness. I’m not from the most opportune city in the world, but we make things happen despite going against the grain.
J.I.D.: Where you from?
Matt: Brockton, like 30 minutes south of Boston.
J.I.D.: Word, where’s Stizz from?
Me: Stizz is from Dorchester. I’m actually going to see him next week in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Aimed for Boston, but it sold out too damn fast. Haha. You a fan?
J.I.D.: Oh, hell yea. I actually have a record with Stizz that is never gonna come out.
Me [caught completely off guard] Well…wait, what? Damn that’s an exclusive. How come it’s never dropping?
J.I.D.: Blame Stizz. Next time you talk to him, blame him.
Me: Aight don’t tell me that. I’m gonna pressure him when I get the chance, haha. We, the people, need this.
J.I.D.: Please do that. I have it in my email right now. I actually listen to it all the time.
J.I.D. and Cousin Stizz together on one track? I would give anything to at least hear that record. I’m just going to go ahead and assume that it would be the most motivating, energetic, and inspirational song ever created. I can only imagine how well the individualistic styles of each of them would blend together, trading verses back and forth while a J.I.D.-sung chorus comes in ever so lightly, sending you off into a daydreamed world of utopian bliss. Ahhh, I can hear (see) it now. From now on, I’m making the release of this collab my sole wish every birthday, every wishbone break, every penny flicked, and every time the clock hits 11:11.
Me: Suffolk County, MONDA, or One Night Only – which is your favorite Stizz project?
J.I.D.: I gotta go with…well…I’m gonna say…actually…well, the first one has time on it and it’s aged well, so…I don’t know, man, it’s a tough call. [laughs]
If you ask me, J.I.D. and Cousin Stizz are the two best emcees of the “new school” right now and they’re both at the top of the dog-eat-dog food chain. It’s hard to stay up to date with all the artists coming out these days, but these two stand out. There’s a reason for that. Their music is stimulating and influential. They’re genuine, they’re humble, their minds are in the right place, they love their fans, and they deeply care about their art- which is rare. These two young kings have been selling out their own nationally headlining tours and their popularity has risen unbelievably, for good reason. I’m really excited to watch these guys grow. If they drop their mysterious collaborative record at the right time, that’s a powerhouse with serious potential.
Me: Do you write your songs first, or wait for a beat?
J.I.D.: I write a lot. I always have shit on deck. I don’t wanna wait on no music because the writing can vary from different songs and stuff like that so I don’t want it to affect the mood.
Me: How does it feel to be taking over the world at such a young age, especially with your friends by your side?
J.I.D.: That shit’s tight. We’ve been touring for a minute. That’s how we got our feet in the game, so I guess we’re kinda used to it by now. Just touring and doing shows like locally is how we started because, to us, that’s the most important part of being an artist – just performing.
Me: What’s some advice you’d give to an “up and coming” artist?
J.I.D.: Advice? [laughs] [thinking deeply] Idk, umm. It’s just basic shit people already know – you know, [sarcastically] stay true to yourself and keep working. Stuff like that is always important, but it’s a lot more than that sometimes. I know a lot of people that work their ass off and don’t get what they deserve.
Me: Yea, that can be discouraging.
J.I.D.: It is very discouraging. The main thing I’d say is to try to never be discouraged. Try to find the silver lining in every situation.
Me: That’s a great perspective because a lot of artists often do the opposite and start to question themselves, and their dreams, when in those moments.
J.I.D.: You gon’ get discouraged when you do anything that challenges your worth. You’re gonna reach a block or some shit, just gotta get thru it.
As long as you’re moving forward, you’re making progress. It’s important to continue looking ahead, especially when things get rough. Know your worth and make sure anyone you work with is also aware of it. If it means cutting people off to get the job done, you cut people off. Put your dreams first and don’t expect everyone to see, or support, your vision. Hearing “trust the process” gets old after a while, but the quote remains true. The process does work if you believe in it and yourself. Just keep working, your time will come.
Me: What’s one thing nobody knows about J.I.D.?
J.I.D.: Hmmmmm, Idk . I’m not really that private. I try to put it all out there and express it in my music. It’s nothing like, I mean, I ain’t no like sexual deviant or anything.
Me: Well that’s good to know. [laughs]
EarthGang [from the back]: Giggity giggity!
I have to say that everybody in that room was incredibly entertaining. They need a show on Vice immediately, because they are a one-of-a-kind crew. After watching the the guys do their meet and greet, dancing and thoroughly enjoying time with their fans, I witnessed each and every one of them body their set until the entire crowd had lost their voices and were forced to army crawl out at the end from sheer exhaustion. Mosh pits, crowd surfing, the whole nine yards. J.I.D., EarthGang, Chaz French, and Lute definitely made a mark on Boston that night – even bringing out the city’s own Michael Christmas for a surprise set, alongside fellow local emcee and hypeman, OG Swaggerdick.
I was a 31 year old in a room full of mostly college kids and teenagers, but it didn’t feel like it. I was lost in the experience – and the vibes were all that mattered, capitalizing any physical elements and zoning me directly into the music and the performance – true artistry. Being able to control a crowd in such a way that leaves fans feeling empowered is a remarkable ability that very few artists possess. I have no doubt in my mind that J.I.D. and his crew will be able to sustain that force for many years to come.
Photos come courtesy of Hal Ocasio.