Hailing from Maryland, IDK is a rapper that's completely comfortable in his own shoes, and hasn't wanted to be an overnight success - instead taking the time to grow as an artist, and work with the people around him that share the same vision. His name stands for Ignorantly Delivering Knowledge, but given how considered he is with his moves in music, it feels like he's not being ignorant at all. Speaking to Sniffer, IDK says that he came to making music relatively late. "It didn’t happen until I was like 21. I was at work, I used to work at a barbershop. Instead of cutting people's hair I would try to write music, and instead of going to class and paying attention to lectures I would write music. That’s when it first started."
This idea of collaboration was present on last year's IDK & Friends, a project that saw IDK team up with seven of his closest friends and collaborators. In a statement posted to Facebook, IDK said it was a project for the fans, that's "raw and uncut" so people can experience the music he's been sitting on. "These are raw and uncut IDK thoughts. I’ve done a lot of features with my friends and I feel like it would be a shame to let that music go to waste, so here it is. #IDKANDFRIENDS. This is in no way shape or form as deep as many of my previous projects as a whole, BUT I think each song is [fire] and gets the point across in a short amount of time. "
Earlier this year, IDK released his biggest project yet, Is He Real?, his official "debut" album. It's a conceptual project that sees him grappling with religion views around it. Speaking to Complex about the record, and whether he's closer to answering the title's question (a reference to God), IDK said, "I think it's just something that could be inside of us. It could be outside of us. I don't really know what it is. I just know it's whoever engineered this earth and engineered us, that's the best way to put it. A genius made all of this. This is everything."
The album features the likes of Pusha T, J.I.D and Burna Boy, and follows the the introspective nature of his past releases, but with more star power behind it. Having been co-signed by NBA superstar Kevin Durant, IDK is on the path to mainstream success but he won't compromise his artistic integrity for it. Instead, he's looking to cultivate a sense of longevity around his music, and that's what's taken him so long to release his "debut" album, despite already having been around for a hot minute.
Speaking to Billboard about his long-term goals as an artist, IDK said, "My ear is to the streets as far as knowing what's popping for the most part. I want mainstream success, but I don't want to compromise... For me, what's important is making sure I focus on who I am and how to project that in my everyday life and what my fans see. Then the people who feel like they can connect with me are going to be real fans. It's not about just the music -- it's a lifestyle."
IDK is on his own career trajectory, and he's completely comfortable with that. Every move is carefully considered, every release analysed by IDK before its release to the nth degree. Is He Real? might be ignorant in the first half of the record, but in the second half of the album we see a different side to IDK - the side that has brought him so much success already. He's allowed himself time to learn the true craft of being an artist, and he's completely comfortable with that decision.