You know that feeling you get when somebody says to you, “You’ve never seen that movie?!” or “You’re never heard of so-and-so?!” or “You’ve never been to that famous place?!” or “How can you not know this band?!” I admit having spent much of my life in fear of being asked these kinds of questions. Yeah, just call it what it is: insecurity, but I’ve always strived, mostly futilely in vain, to at least be “in-the-know” about EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD, and it only really has been in my middle age when I’ve stopped caring so much about not knowing something about something, and rather starting seeing those moments as new opportunity to learn.

I remember I was in highschool when the Chili Peppers blew up with Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Thing was, I happened to have discovered them a few years earlier when a friend’s older cousin, Ted introduced me to their preceding album, Mother’s Milk, an album that scrambled my brain at the time. When I inquired more about them from Ted, I learned that there were even MORE albums BEFORE Mother’s Milk, and that I was already quite late to the game, so I kinda undeservedly, and in the negative connotation of hipster, projected this Johnny-come-lately fandom onto not only people who JUST got into the Chili Peppers with BSSM, but onto myself too, and I often cite the Chili Peppers to illustrate this idea of not knowing a band before somebody else did. The funny thing is though, 30 years later, I realize I WAS, We WERE, all or most of my peers, in fact at the beginning of the Chili Peppers, making this whole notion even more silly.

But I think about this idea often, of acquiring social/musical/literary capital, so hollow I know, I wish I had been less a victim to it because in reality, we’re all on a different journey and going at a different pace, and one simply can’t know everything about everything. So let go of that shit, (I’m trying to tell myself all the time.) I was looking looking for a quote to capture this idea and I found one by New Jersey Senator, Cory Booker who said “Don’t let your inability to do everything undermine your determination to do something.” I think you could rewrite that as “Don’t let your inability to KNOW everything undermine your determination to know something.”

So why am I talking about this, well because when friendly Jaden from Melbourne showed me the records he scored from Tower while on holiday in Japan from his civil engineering studies and basketball aspirations, and he showed me two records, one which I knew, Kendrick Lamar’s 2nd studio album from 2012, “Good Kid Good Kid, M.A.A.d City” but a cool 10th anniversary reissue, and another record from an artist I’d never heard of, a bit to Jaden’s dismay, J.I.D.’s “The Never Story.” Something inside me triggered, and in one breath I felt that old familiar feeling, “Dammit, I’m late to the game again here, this has gotta be good, something I should probably already know about,” followed quickly by my new adage,”Chill out, Brian. And celebrate the fact that Jaden is probably dropping some science on you.” And he was.

I went back home, did some googling, youtubing, and streaming, and for the next 3 days I had my mind blown by J.I.D., Spillage Village, Earthgang and more. Wow, what a talented lyricist and waxing storyteller, and soulful singer too. “The Never Story” is a confessional or sorts, exposing so many facets and life story in every bar. And syncopated stagger-stepped rhymes constantly going where you don’t expect them to go. And this NPR Tiny Desk performance with a gajillion views is way up there with the best of them (Sidenote: How great of a format did that turn out to be, right?!) I’m sure if I’d be speaking out of school to suggest J.I.D. doesn’t fit squarely into hip-hop but rather really transcends it, spilling into R&B, Jazz, Gospel, and more.

After a few listens, I reached out to my homie artist Aaron Marin whose newsletter “What Color is Beautiful” which I always look forward to receiving, had just landed in my inbox. Aaron’s visual work about black identity always inspires me and heightens my awareness, and he always has his finger on the pulse of upcoming, underrated, or overlooked artists, so I thought I hit him up about my J.I.D. blind spot. It was a great excuse to connect and hear his thoughts about the state or hip-hop on the whole (with it unofficially being the 50th anniversary of it’s debut, …whatever that might mean) and he of course not only knew about J.I.D. but he hipped me to a bunch of new artists that I should probably have on my radar via a killer J.I.D.-adjacent playlist that he curated and that I’ll share with you with a link in the comments.

Sorry for saying going on so long about J.I.D. (and all the “in-the-know” insecurities) and so short about affable Jaden, who I own a BIG thank you. Jaden, for sharing some time and a nice smile for these photos, and for turning me onto some new music, I can’t thank you enough! Hope you enjoy both those records as much as I did discovering them again and again! Safe travels, good luck and hope to see you again someday. Until then, keeping J.I.D. in heavy rotation!

More Tokyo Record Style on the way!

Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.d City
Label: Interscope Records – B0036418-01
Format: 2 x Vinyl, LP, Album, Limited Edition, Reissue, Stereo, Red [Opaque Apple], 10th Anniversary Edition
Country: US
Released: Oct 21, 2022
Genre: Hip Hop
Style: Conscious

J.I.D – The Never Story
Label: Dreamville – B0035696-01, Interscope Records – B0035696-01
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue, Stereo
Country: US
Released: Jan 20, 2023
Genre: Hip Hop
Style: Conscious

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