(AllHipHop Features) Last August, promising Hip Hop artist Jason “Jay IDK” Mills let loose his latest music collection. Subtrap is a 15-track excursion through the mind of several characters created by the Maryland-raised wordsmith. The world was introduced to King Trappy III, Jon Jon, Matt, Ed, and Chris as each fictional individual offered his own tales of the drug game via various cuts on Subtrap.
Following in the tradition of noteworthy conceptual rap albums like Prince Paul’s A Prince Among Thieves, Little Brother’s The Minstrel Show, and Childish Gambino’s Because The Internet, Jay IDK’s opus presents an artisan capable of crafting an exceptional auditory screenplay, an otic motion picture that plays on the big screen in the listener’s head. And according to its creator, the magic of Subtrap is charming a wider audience by the week.
“I think Subtrap is a good example of staying relevant, because we're noticing an increase of sales per month as opposed to an album coming out, doing a certain amount of numbers the first week, and then going down from there,” says Jay. “So it’s basically been word of mouth for that particular project. I think based off of what the content is, what I’m talking about, and how deep everything is, it gives the music value.”
The LP features production by IDK, Lo-Fi, Skhye Hutch, Tobari, GameBrand, The Glitch Mob, Noose, Mr. Temmtation, and The Watcherz. While most of Subtrap is carried by Jay’s performance, BJ The Chicago Kid and Eddie Vanz lend their voices to the album as well. The soulful BJ appears on the track “Cookie Addiction” which highlights another player in the story of Subtrap - the influential Her.
“A lot of ‘Cookie Addiction’ had to do with that whole Her factor in Subtrap. Her is the music industry. I referred to the music industry as a girl,” explains Jay. “I took some of the experiences I had with women, put that together, and made it as if I’m talking to a woman. But at the end of the day, it’s all about this music industry.”
Jay IDK’s eventual love-hate relationship with the music business actually began while he was serving time in jail. During that period of being locked away, Jason was encouraged by another inmate to take his hobby of putting words together and turn it into a recording career.
A few years later saw the arrival of 2014’s Sex, Drugs And Homework. The debut album was the first example of the “Ignorantly Delivering Knowledge” approach that saturates every aspect of Jay’s persona and style.
The former Prince George’s County Community College student adopted a mission of infiltrating this generation’s psyche with Trap sounds that are easy to digest intertwined with thoughtful content that goes deeper than what appears on the surface. It's in that spirit that Jay challenges viewers to decipher the covert themes of his recent “God Said Trap” video directed by Jacob LaGuardia.
“If you notice, there’s a lot of subliminal messages in this video. You would have to pause it or play it in slow motion to see some of these things,” says the London-born rhymer. “If you look at it, it seems like it’s just a regular, good quality music video, but it has these things in it that sets it apart.”
Even with turn-up anthems like “The Plug” and “Two Hoes” keeping Subtrap balanced, Jay is still very conscious about letting the doubters know he has real rap skills. Loosies like “MC Hammer Freestyle” and “Hungry” drop as reminders of what the HXLY TRiBE leader can do with the bars. His most recent declaration of higher level emceeing came in the form of “Hello (Freestyle).”
"Every now and then I have this sporadic moment where I feel like I need to prove or reassure people that I’m a rapper and a lyricist first. I try to challenge myself to write better than the last time I did it," IDK states. "[On 'Hello'] I was talking about people maybe not believing in me. I was trying to rub it in like, ‘Look you didn’t believe me when I told you, and this is what it is now.'"
The freestyle was spit over the beat to Raekwon’s “Ice Cream.” Jay was just a toddler when the Wu-Tang Clan member’s classic single was released in 1995, but it is not surprising the music connoisseur dipped into the 90’s well. The 23-year-old’s Instagram page partially serves as a multi-genre monument to celebrated masterworks of yesteryear.
Jay pays homage to numerous projects as inspirations (e.g. Bob Marley’s Gold, Erykah Badu’s Baduizm, Gorillaz’s Gorillaz). When it comes to Hip Hop, the works of DMX, Kanye West, and Eminem have been making a huge impact on his creative direction as of late.
“If you listen to my new stuff about to come out, you almost get a little bit of a DMX vibe on some of the records. I incorporated some of that raw energy that he brought. That feeling of actually being a dog, an animal,” Jay tells AllHipHop.com. “Of course, I’ve always been a fan and studied Eminem. From him, I get a lot of my flows and some of the humor.”
He continues, “I started listening to some older Kanye. Not even College Dropout, but Freshmen Adjustment. I listen to that to get an idea where his head was at before he really popped off. I compare myself at where ever I’m in my career to where a lot of these people were as well.”
A taste of what’s to come from Jay arrived this week. He teamed with North Carolina’s Deniro Farrar to warn about devious n-ggas and thirsty b-tches. “Trust Nobody” is a menacing track reminiscent of DMX declaring “I don't really trust humans that much these days” on “Dog Intro” off Grand Champ.
The next several months are on pace to be the start of a championship run for Jay IDK. The follow-up body of work to Subtrap is expected to hit the internet this summer, and an opening spot on Freddie Gibbs’ “Shadow Of A Doubt Tour” begins on 4/20.
In the meanwhile, Jay is still taking meetings with labels as he searches for a potential company partner who understands his vision as an artist. New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta have essentially been the capitals of Hip Hop culture for years, but the majors are also starting to focus on trying to find the next star out of the area surrounding the nation's capital.
As one of the leading voices of the new DMV Hip Hop movement, Jay is helping to bring global attention to the musical awakening happening around Washington, DC. While he recognizes The District has not reached the same level as other cities in the rap game yet, Jay is optimistic about where the locale’s rap community is headed.
He concludes, “I think there’s still a lot more work we need to do and a lot more things that need to be accomplished for us to really do what we need to do. I think it’s at a good start, and that’s the most important part.”
[ALSO READ: #DMVOnTheMove: Chaz French Uses Vulnerability In His Music To Foster Positivity In His Listeners]
Read other installments of AllHipHop’s #DMVOnTheMove series here.