Like J. Cole, Dreamville’s J.I.D. Challenges Himself With Adventures In Storytelling (Video)

For an MC who cites sugary-sweet Swedish Electronica merchants Little Dragon and R&B star D’Angelo as influences, alongside Wu-Tang Clan and Lil Uzi Vert, this melodic single from Atlanta’s J.I.D. shouldn’t surprise. But it does.

The latest visual from his 2017 Dreamville Records The Never Story,“Hereditary” unmasks the emotional side and vulnerability of the J. Cole signee. Highlighting the MC’s confusion and hurt over an unfaithful lover, it is deeply moving. A major reason for the track’s impact is the video, directed by Chad Tennies and Mac Grant.

Dreamville’s J.I.D. Is Making Introductions While Saying Bye To The Competition (Audio)

It begins with the profile of a young girl occupying herself while playing with a dollhouse, as her parents fight in the background: the scene is dated 1975. Soon after, the viewer sees the same child in a car, with Mom interrupting Dad during a hotel-room tryst. Next, the now-adult woman is fighting with her partner: it is 1997. She cheated this time. The video closes with her daughter flirting with another guy, in 2017, as J.I.D walks out on her onto the darkened street.

More in resignation than anything else, J.I.D explains his girlfriend’s behavior: “I guess it’s hereditary, baby / Why you playing with my heart? / It’s heredity girl you was just playing from the start …”

Earlier this year, J.I.D told Rolling Stone that he’d originally planned on taking on “a woman’s perspective” in the song: “I was thinking Rihanna could kill a part, or maybe Kehlani or SZA.” Even though the video is through the woman’s eyes, the lyrics offer a direct line to what’s going on inside J.I.D’s head and heart. This willingness to share his “soft side” unites him with big stars like Drake or Cole, but also recalls the tortured vocalists that made ’60s Motown famous.

There is urgency in these soulful lines: “Trying to change, just let me die in the rainfall / I can’t save her if she don’t want to be saved, how Please God, do something for me God / She cut me deep just to see if I’ma bleed out / I know this what I need, but who’s to say what I need
What you say to your demons? / What you say to your heart when it’s walking away with your feelings?

Isaiah Rashad also released a track called “Hereditary” on his 2014 EP Cilvia Demo that mapped a similar territory while working through the complex legacy left by his father.

Produced by Officials, the beat for “Hereditary” slips into a kind of madness at times. This is especially true at the start, as it reflects the little girl’s distress and in the middle: the music becomes moody, high-effects as if it were providing the soundtrack for a Horror movie.

On first listen, J.I.D’s “Hereditary” might resemble other Rap songs released by artists south of the Mason-Dixon line. It is distinguished by complex emotional terrain and refusal of easy judgments. Something to be grateful for as it shows that J.I.D is more than willing to challenge himself and his listeners in the process.