“IDK and Friends” brings hyphy soundtrack to “Basketball Country” documentary

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler

Wale isn’t the only MC making waves in the DMV. On June 26, Maryland-based rapper IDK dropped this new album as a sequel to 2014’s “IDK and Friends,” following up his 2019 solo album “Is He Real.” It’s the official soundtrack to Kevin Durant’s new side project “In the Water,” a Showtime documentary that follows grassroots basketball in the superstar’s old
stomping grounds of PG County, Maryland. A place that’s been a hotbed of NBA talent, home to guys like all-star guard Victor Oladipo and former Washington Husky Markelle Fultz.

In the past, Durant has praised IDK’s work and for good reason. The rapper’s profile has shot up significantly in the past few years, providing a sound very much influenced by the DMV’s eclectic music scene. From his coming of age tale on “IWASVERYBAD” to his meditations on spirituality on “Is He Real?,” IDK masterfully synthesizes hard hitting trap beats with irreverent and poignant lyricism. In his young career he’s done nothing but live up to his acronym “Ignorantly Delivering Knowledge.” While brain food isn’t the point of the “IDK and Friends” series, it doesn’t make the music any less fun. 

The album opens up with “Omertà,” a brief interlude featuring only IDK’s voice as he breaks down the code of silence to an unnamed person and in turn, the audience. Moving on to “Riley,” we get a feature from XanMan whose off-kilter flow matched the crude, disjointed piano riffs. His mumbling affect resembles shades of a younger G Herbo. The Scuba Steve reference from him was the cherry on top to an entertaining verse.

On “Mazel Tov” with A$AP Ferg we’re welcomed by a flute sample that rings throughout the song, with hyphy chants similar to college frats. IDK opens up with cliche lines about having “Jewish guys pay [his] bills.” He aimed his verse at critics who judge from the sidelines as IDK built his brand “by [himself].” Ferg drops a captivating feature all while using a triplet flow. The overall theme of the song is centered on wealth—as with most trap— however, IDK and Ferg approach it from different angles. While IDK brags about financial independence, Ferg brags about keeping business within the family and breaking bread with his loved ones. This track like most on the LP it won’t say anything profound but still feels engaging. IDK for much of the tape will give you great performances flow-wise, rapping wise, but it doesn’t deviate much from most trap coming out today. Then again that would be asking a lot from what’s essentially a compilation album.

The soundtrack has an odd and uplifting ending with “Live For It” featuring Wale and Alex Vaughn, the latter who showed out on the chorus. It begins with ominous chords as Wale raps out the gate about his ambitions and pride for his city among other things; while simultaneously carrying his now trademark chip on his shoulder.

Wale’s feature felt like a missed opportunity given the album being a side dish to a sports-themed documentary. In the past, Wale hasn’t been shy about sharing his sports takes and generally fashions himself to be socially conscious. It wasn’t too long ago that he dropped “Varsity Blues” where he delivered a scathing critique of the NCAA’s perceived exploitation of student athletes. It would’ve been interesting to see Wale comment on the socio-economic problems that plagued PG County, (and in extension the DC Metro area) in contrast with the area’s thriving hoops scene. That being said, his verse did at least tap into the “underdog” sentiments expressed by the documentary. 

“IDK and Friends 2” serves as enjoyable theme music that would fit right in with house parties and pickup hoops sessions. While the album isn’t that different from a lot of modern trap, it’s quirky enough to give this album a second look. 

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