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Review: IDK Examines His Place In A Religious World With New Album 'Is He Real?'

IDK keeps the heat coming with a bold new album.
IDK Is He Real? Cover Art

Maryland-raised rapper IDK (Ignorantly Delivering Knowledge) has released his fifth long project and “major label debut” titled Is He Real?

The album covers a lot of ground as the rapper carries on a main thread of exploring his own spirituality and place in the world. The first song “Cloud Blu” introduces one of the primary themes of the album – religion, with the innocence of a small kid explaining what happens after you die – but there is a twist.

Then he really starts to create the dichotomy of assessing his beliefs in god and his actions. He raps about sexual encounters and at times a fucked up world around him.

He manages to find his groove on heavy trap beats that sound dark and sometimes like a soundscape from hell. In a world that has been set up to fail him and a world where cops shoot black men seemingly with impunity, he tries and often fails to see how an almighty benevolent being like god could be a part of it.

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IDK gets very personal on the last record talking about his late mom. He uses both spoken word and rap to explain how he came into his world and the shocking way his mother eventually died.

IDK steps into a topic that largely never gets discussed in a meaningful way in music. It is often just praise to god or something similar, but never really gets examined in a world where it can be hard to find his positive influence. The record feels raw and authentic in a way you often don’t see in hip-hop polished off with controversy / cancel-wary A&Rs and label execs (unless it is a planned one). Though it is a “major label debut,” it still has the feel of his mixtapes in a good way. The features from Pusha T, JID, Tyler, The Creator and Burna Boy are all fantastic, though there could have been a little more from them.

The album would have had a Frank Ocean on it, but the sample wasn’t cleared in time for the release. Maybe we will still see that song appear before too long or get added in a deluxe edition. James Blake is sampled on the 13th track "Michael What TF."

Pick up a copy of the record here.

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