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An Adventurous Contemplation Of Faith

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Getty Image / Warner Records / Uproxx Studios

The RX is Uproxx Music’s stamp of approval for the best albums, songs, and music stories throughout the year. Inclusion in this category is the highest distinction we can bestow, and signals the most important music being released throughout the year. The RX is the music you need, right now.

Rap has a long-held upstanding tradition of finding and questioning faith on record. The latest artist to join this longstanding legacy is IDK, whose new album, Is He Real? is an eclectic, adventurous entry into the canon of recent projects that draw inspiration from wonder.

IDK — formerly known as Jay IDK — has long pulled from his own autobiographical and rebellious stylistic inclinations to craft the sort of rap music that stands apart from existing trends yet has an irresistible magnetic pull. His 2017 project, IWasVeryBad, examined America’s flawed criminal justice system through the lens of his own personal experiences. Its title, referring to his tendency to act out in school, where he was one of few Black students, reflects the ways in which stereotypes and tropes can become our own self-perceptions. The tightly-wound narrative of the album unraveled over 35 incisive, harrowing minutes, tracking his seemingly unstoppable slide down the school-to-prison pipeline.

Likewise, Is He Real? draws on IDK’s lived experiences to take a look at another heavy topic: The concept of faith. Specifically, the kind of faith you search for in the desperate, dire situations many Black Americans find themselves facing as a result of their status in a nation where it seems they are trapped in a second class just for being Black. Just like recent projects from the likes of Kendrick Lamar (DAMN. and To Pimp A Butterfly) and Chance The Rapper (The Big Day and Coloring Book), and the upcoming project promised by Kanye West, IDK looks at religion in all its complexities and flaws, trying to determine the answer to the question posed by his album’s title.

The answer, such as it is, could very well be his stage name, as the album never comes to a definitive conclusion one way or another. What it does do, however, is unearth some arresting philosophical entertainment from wrestling with the fundamental parts of the question. Beginning with the intro, “Cloud Blu,” IDK leads a sort of Socratic discussion through a series of skits with surprising special guests with prompts like, “What happens after you die?” The responses are wide-ranging, illuminating, and often contradictory — just like they would be in life. The cynical reply from “Cloud Blu” could be one observer’s last word, but its placement at the beginning of the album suggests that even IDK finds it such an unsatisfactory answer, he’s willing to spend 40 more minutes dismantling it.

Certainly, from the conditions described by “42 Hundred Choices,” it’s easy to see where that level of nihilism might come from: “My momma told me go to church / I was sitting ten rows from the first / Daydreaming ’bout all the things I could probably get / If I take the lady in front of me’s purse.” He then spends a few tracks expanding on and pondering the lessons learned from those Sundays spent in the pews, from the prosperity gospel (“24”) to religion’s complicated relationship with love and sex (“Lilly” and “Porno”). He wonders at the church’s positions on “European Skies,” telling his pastor “your theory lacks reason.”

That push and pull between IDK’s sharp-eyed observations and the often seemingly nonsensical tenets of organized religion — particularly Christianity — creates the central tension of Is He Real?. It’s the through-line that allows IDK’s eclectic musical tastes to run rampant as he tries on different styles, from the DC house and reggae of his DMV area upbringing to the rambunctious, concrete-splitting stomp of “Alone,” “Digital,” and “Michael What TF.” IDK’s raps are stitched through these rugged and sweet soundscapes alike with the stuttering grace of a power sewing machine, bringing the seams together into one of hip-hop’s most concise, intelligent takes on the subject matter yet.

Is He Real? is the middle ground between the high-concept, metaphorical approach of Kendrick Lamar’s best on the subject and the full-throated exultation from Chance The Rapper’s latest projects. IDK questions without rejecting, contemplates without navel-gazing, and relates to the listener, drawing them into his worldview with heartbreaking narratives such as “Julia…,” the album’s gut-punch of closer. IDK isn’t preaching, but he doesn’t reject any possibilities. Is He Real? is a testimony in the truest sense, a man coming to terms with all he doesn’t know and pushing forward anyway — the very definition of faith.

Is He Real? is out now via Clue No Clue LLC and Warner Records. Get it here.

IDK is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.



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Mr. Lif Joins Eternia & Rel McCoy for “The Story of Us” Feat. Eliki

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Bound by their love for hip-hop and each other, Eternia and Mr. Lif share “The Story of Us” for the latest single off Eternia and Rel McCoy’s collab LP, FREE. The track boasts Rel’s warm production paired with gripping rhymes from Eternia and Lif who explore their lives leading up to the day they met. It’s a beautiful track made all the more stunning with Eliki’s haunting vocals.

The Story of Us” is available now through all major digital retailers and streaming platforms and can be purchased for instant-grat off the duo’s forthcoming collab LP, FREE, which is set to drop next Friday, Sept 24 via Fat Beats. In addition to Lif, the 12 track LP includes guest appearances by Shad, Wordsworth, SHEAL, Phoenix Pagliacci and more, and will be released on vinyl in limited quantities.






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“Dear White People’s” Logan Browning And John Patrick Amedori Talk Vol.4

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Ruh-Roh! Are “Dear White People” sweeties Sam and Gabe hitting a bump in the road this season?

Dear White People Vol. 4 episodic still

Source: Lara Solanki / Netflix

BOSSIP’s Sr. Content Director Janeé Bolden spoke with “Dear White People” stars Logan Browning (Samantha White) and John Patrick Amedori (Gabe Mitchell) about Vol. 4 being a musical season and their reaction when they first found out. Needless to say, the actors were happy about the news.

“We’ve always talked about a musical episode and how fun it would be so when they decided to do a whole season what was I going to say, ‘No’? ” Amedori recalled to BOSSIP. “We were given the opportunity to be in a musical. Come on, let’s do it. ”

Dear White People Vol. 4 episodic still

Source: Lara Solanki / Netflix

When asked about his favorite song to perform this season he didn’t hesitate to answer with N’Sync’s hit breakup jam: “Bye, Bye Bye.”

“Absolutely ‘Bye, Bye, Bye’!’ Amedori’s co-star Logan Browning chimed in.

“That was also really good too because, Logan and I the way we work together, from the previous recording to the day of shooting we kind of choreographed, well our choreography within the fight, and let us do the scene as a real fight with how we felt, it just felt really good it kind of came together, that’s definitely a highlight for me,” Amedori told BOSSIP.

Dear White People Vol. 4 episodic still

Source: Patrick McElhenney / Netflix

For folks who aren’t fans of the show, Browning and Amedori both play film students/filmmakers and much of Vol. 4 revolves around their projects and what they decide to keep and leave out. We had to ask if there were things from the actual show that they were sad to see cut from previous seasons.

“I definitely have things that didn’t make it, but,” Browning paused before telling BOSSIP. ” No that would be a spoiler. There is something — there are things.”

“In general, at least I know joke-wise, I know that nobody was safe ever and I really enjoyed that aspect.” Amedori told BOSSIP. ” There was never a moment of ‘was that too much?’”

“I know, ” Logan interjected. “So we shot episode 8 of season two, part of one scene as a oner — where John Patrick and I and the camera operators were all moving in tandem, which we all thought was going to be one long cut. It ended up being cut up, which worked for the episode, but we were doing it so they wouldn’t have to cut but that’s very ambitious. That was one thing that was very hard to shoot.”

Sounds intense right? Well these two actors are very intense about their craft.

“We loved it!” Browning told BOSSIP.

“We couldn’t wait,” John Patrick Amedori added. “We spent an entire night going over it so by the time we brought the crew in to watch the rehearsal, we went full board we were 110% the entire time. We were ready to go. We were doing a performance.”

Dear White People Vol. 4 episodic still

Source: Courtesy Netflix / Netflix

The show is named “Dear White People” after Browning’s character Sam’s controversial radio show. In the final season, Sam continues to catch hell from other Black students for her interracial relationship with Gabe. As “Dear White People,” primary white character we wanted to know what Gabe learned in the show’s four seasons.

“He’s a guy who steps in it along the way,” Amedori told BOSSIP. “He steps in it in a relationship with a girl that he’s madly in love with, he messes it up and she forgives him. To know that he means well. That’s her nature. It’s a good balance for them being in the relationship because when he puts his foot in his mouth he’s essentially putting both of their feet in her mouth.”

Amedori’s unintentional play on words draws laughter both from BOSSIP and Browning, who responds, “That is very John Patrick. I don’t know what made me go back and look at an interview we did at the Paley Center and your answers to this question were so sus, I was like cracking up.”

“I have weird metaphors that start turning in my brain,” Amedori explained to BOSSIP. “They make sense to me and I just hope that they make sense. Which is kind of how I exist as a person.”

Amedori finished his thoughts by saying he didn’t think Gabe would be the person he ends up being (this season also includes a look at most of the key characters 20 years in the future) without having known Sam.

Watch the full interview below:

We’ve really enjoyed watching this relationship blossom over four seasons and can’t wait for the rest of the world to see how Vol. 4 plays out.

New episodes of “Dear White People” arrived on Netflix this Wednesday, September 22!





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NEW MUSIC: Ne-Yo – “What If”

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Ne-Yo What IfNe-Yo has returned with a brand new single called “What If”.

No word on what forthcoming project this song will appear.

Listen below via Apple Music:

The post NEW MUSIC: Ne-Yo – “What If” appeared first on Fresh: Hip-Hop & R&B.



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