You’re never supposed to judge a book by its cover, but this time it worked out for me. After seeing the cover to Jay IDK’s ‘SubTrap’ I was perplexed, the title itself was intriguing, but the depiction of a pseudo-modern day Black Panther Party visual resonated with me. Then after a little more research via Google, I found out what the IDK stands for (Ignorantly Delivering Knowledge). I was ready to hear what he had to say, and I must say, I’m quite glad I took the chance.
Conceptually speaking it’s a breath of fresh air, while remaining musically innovative. It follows Jay as he personifies the characteristics of those most affected by the drug epidemic. Characters ranging from the plug, all the way to the desperation of poverty stricken addicts. By no means is this a subject that hasn’t been tackled a million times before, but the approach separates this effort from anything else I had previously heard. The DMV representative shows his story telling abilities, at the same time experimenting with different flows and a few spoken word pieces that could resurrect Def Poetry Jam.
The characters are based on individuals he came in contact with during his incarceration between 09-12, along with shedding light on his own part played within the black market. Cleverly flirting with disaster in the form of a female, “Sexy Bartender/Intro” (Jay & Her) sharing his journey from a kid trying to make music, to something a bit more sinister when it comes to making money to support his craft. before revisiting the flow of Kanye on “Addiction” and Bone Thug’s wake up call from “1st Of The Month”. “Dirty Scale” is autobiographical, describing and in ways justifying his own role in the illegal trade. The honesty shown is admirable, risking ones freedom for the opportunity to live his dreams, it’s the story of America in many ways.
“God Said Trap” introduces the first of many characters King Trappy III, a paranoid hustler who refuses to let society tell him what he can and can’t get. Ferrari aspirations and pessimistic girlfriend aside, he effortlessly rides an excellent track courtesy of Gamebrand, SkyHutche & Jay. Simply put, the song is riot inciting. Remaining in character, “The Plug” further explores the underworld, but this time it questions the true criminality of providing a service to those who need it.
The next two characters introduced are Jon Jon and his younger brother. “Thug’s Prayer” shows the frustration of a low level sometimes hustler sometimes stick up kid hustling to pay court fees among-st other things. Balancing the need for things as practical as health insurance, and a judge who can actually relate to the defendant he’s exacting “justice” on. All of this is in the context of a conversation of sorts with the creator.
“Fiends Prayer” follows two extremely desperate addicts, Matt and Eddie, willing to do anything including robbery and kidnapping all to attain crack cocaine. “We All The Same” is a culmination of all of those Jon Jon provides with his product, while it’s not a song per se, it’s a very entertaining poem over some jazz, with a soulful chorus in the vein of the interludes on ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’. Chris is a college student, much more motivated by marijuana then his parents desire for him to achieve academic success on the “The Bio Student”.
The attention of the final section of the album revisits Jay himself and his struggle for stardom and recognition within the game. Displaying his exceptional ability to flip the double-time flow, display his frustration and flex bravado. The financial struggles of “Metro” on to his views on the industry and it’s culture of dishonesty on “Last Song”. While the Kendrick Lamar and J Cole comparisons are soon to follow, Jay speaks from a perspective as someone who’s been involved in the underworld to an extent, provides an understanding for the circumstances that drive many towards the life. He also uses his experience in the higher education environment to intelligently connect the dots and remain articulate within the framework of his music.
Whether or not this makes the year end lists throughout the blogosphere, it’s quite evident that ‘SubTrap’ is one of the best bodies of work that has been released in 2015. Will Jay IDK get the recognition he deserves? Only Lord knows, but with the direction in which music is going, where good music most times can trump record label money and industry co-signs. This may very well be 2015’s ‘Section.80’. Yes, it’s THAT good.