With each project, IDK just keeps getting better and better. The PG County Maryland native has successfully made a name for himself in the music industry, arriving with his own spitfire flow, relentless bars, vivid storytelling, and introspective lyrics. The wide array of subjects he covers in the music is inspired directly by real-life instances, everything from love, drugs, and addiction to family trauma and mental health.
With all-star collaborations such as “PradadaBang” with Young Thug and “Shoot My Shot” with Offset, IDK returns with his highly-anticipated new album titled USEE4YOURSELF. The 17-track project serves as the follow-up to his previous release, Is He Real?, reeling in guest features from Swae Lee, Rico Nasty, Sevyn Streeter, and even the legendary Slick Rick.
Beyond the music, IDK has his hands in so many meaningful endeavors. For one, he will be launching his music business program at Harvard University called No Label Academy, teaming up with No Label and clinical law professor Brian K. Price. The 10-day program was made for people in the BIPOC community specifically, reminding students to never give up on their dreams. Additionally, IDK is excited to be partnering with iconic fashion brands GUESS and Nike.
Flaunt caught up with IDK at his album screening and playback at San Vicente Bungalows in Los Angeles. Read below as we discuss the anticipation of his new album, creating Gameboys to play the album, collaborating with Young Thug and Offset, his take on fashion, and what it means to have his own music business program at Harvard.
Today, IDK also announced his “USEE4YOURSELF” headline fall tour and released the video for his latest single “Dogs Don’t Lie.” Tour dates and video below.
How does it feel to be here? Album dropping in less than 48 hours.
It feels good. It feels surreal. I’ve been working on it for a year and a half now, so it feels good to finally be able to put out something that I’ve been working on for so long.
A year and a half, so through the pandemic?
Yeah, that’s really what slowed it down. I probably would’ve dropped it sooner if it weren’t for that.
What are you most excited for?
Just people hearing more of my truth. I’m really vulnerable on this album and I want people to hear that. I also want people to live through it, be able to know that it’s okay for them to be vulnerable too.
What’s the significance in the title, USEE4YOURSELF ?
USEE4YOURSELF is basically a response or a follow-up to Is He Real? Is He Real? is the album before this one. I never answered whether he was real or not because you should see for yourself. This album is me seeing for myself.
You say “the idea of love is a complicated thing.” How did this project help you cope?
It helped me tap into parts of my life I didn’t realize existed, and problems I had never really faced. Me being organic and freestyling, feeling the music and letting these emotions out led to me finally having closure.
Talk about your love for Gameboys.
The Gameboy was how I used to escape reality. I used that Gameboy to escape the fact that I wasn’t getting the proper love at home. I’d play Pokemon all the time and be in a whole ‘nother world. That was my comfort zone, that’s why the Gameboy is so important to me.
How does it align with your album?
You can play the Gameboy and in the Gameboy is every song on the album, but in 8-bit. You can listen to the Gameboy version of every song. It took about two months. It was one of the many things I visualized and wanted, and me and the team executed.
How was it collaborating with Young Thug on “PradadaBang”?
It was amazing. It was one of those things where that record was a testament of me being able to produce records. It was one long verse at first, he did it all in one take, then I chopped it up and punched in.
You produced that?
Yeah, me and JaVale McGee. It was in LA, heavy in the pandemic. It took a couple days. I kept fucking around with it for a while. That’s how I usually do things: take some ideas, put it together, then fuck around with it for a little bit.
The record speaks to anti-clout chasing culture and the luxurious life rappers live. Why was it necessary for you to touch on this topic?
I mean, that’s how I felt. Freestyle shit, that’s how I was feeling. Literally every bar was off the top of the head speaking what I was feeling and wanted to say. There wasn’t too much thought to it.
How does it feel to spend $500K on a car and never drive it?
I didn’t spend it, that was Thug. I spent $500K on taxes. That’s probably worse, to be honest. [laughs] It’s my most streamed song right now. The momentum going into the album is really, really intense right now.
You never know what something’s going to do, the people decide.
How was collaborating with Offset on “SHOOT MY SHOT”?
We’ve been talking about doing a record. He DM’ed me one day randomly and said “You da best, you da hardest out.” I said “yo, thanks.” I was shocked. This was a year ago. We been supposed to connect for a while, but I heard he was in the studio. I was about to go, I was in the area. I literally pulled up on him. Played him half of the album, he did the verse right then and there.
He heard that one and wanted to hop on it?
No, I wanted him on that one. He cut the verse right there, right in front of me. It was great, it was good. He’s a freestyler too.
The visual is at over 3.8M views on Youtube, how does it make you feel seeing those numbers?
It feels good, but I don’t pay too much attention to that. I just like the fact that I’m happy and I feel the growth. There’s much more to go and it’s coming.
Best memory from the video shoot?
Just how cool he was. He came through and he was trying to stay longer. He was really cool man, I really mess with him for that. He told me he wanted to see me go to the moon. He said anything I need from him, he got me.
What’s your love for fashion?
I don’t really care much for fashion. I like style, that’s what I’m into. Fashion is the industry, style is the art. I always was into style. I get it from my parents and my mom. I recently learned more about taste. I started getting more taste. Taste and style make people think fashion, but fashion to me is the knowledge and understanding which I have a little bit of, but I don’t want to claim fashion because that’s not what I study. I’m a musician.
What does it mean to partner with an iconic brand like Nike?
That’s my dream man. Shout out to MJ and the team for making it come to life. We’re working on something special, you’ll see it soon. It’s something we’ve never seen before, let’s say that.
What about the Guess partnership?
Similar situation, we’re not speaking too much on it yet. But it’s lit. My mom put me on Guess since I was a kid, I grew up on that.
What does it mean to launch your own music business program, No Label Academy, at Harvard?
It’s trying to create a bigger platform for people of color, but anyone can be part of it. The focus and the idea came from focusing on the people that we felt in the world needed it the most. No Label is the non-profit that I partnered with that powers this whole thing, that I’m also the member of the board for.