The Chicago Bulls weren’t the only ones making plays back in the ‘90s. In this age, we recognize No I.D as the veteran point guard who built his big three with Big Sean and Kanye West. The first time most of us probably even heard his producer tag was no earlier than the mid-2000s. Before we were being made, No I.D was making beats, cooking up sounds to distract from the fast life & violence attached to the city of Chicago. Music has constantly served as a railroad to the rocky roads of poverty and death. The ability to create has come from the want to escape, and the success has then reigned from both ability, and most of all, collaboration. No I.D comes from an era where people didn’t send each other beats and recommend artists. He comes from an era where the only people you worked with, were the same people you grew up with.

The story of No I.D begins back in early ‘80s with one of his close friends, and rap group associates, Common Sense. From basketball to breakdancing, the two discovered hip-hop which would soon spark a creative revolution. According to an interview with Hot 97’s Juan Epstein, No I.D started his career DJing house music, influenced by one of his cousins. The day Common brought a Run DMC tape to school was the same day the two formed their rap group with Ynot, formally known as Twilight Tone. After going off to Southern Illinois for college, No ID’s return to the city of Chicago would spark an even larger passion to pursue sound. Noting that Common was still rapping, No I.D hopped on his SP1200 and started making the perfectly fitting puzzle pieces to add alongside Common’s street poetry.

His loyalty would result in producing Common’s debut album Can I Borrow a Dollar? for Relativity Records. Loyalty to the artists he first broke bread with destroyed the thought of being an outside producer, which seemingly led to years of contemplation between building his production resume and refusing to edit his own blueprint. From a close knit musical collective in Chicago, No I.D would soon be introduced to a man by the name of Kanye West. Both frustrated and inspired by the youngin’, No I.D decided to bring his talent into the hands of other artists, gaining him his first #1 record in 2005 called “Let Me Hold You” by Bow Wow featuring Omarion. He then teamed up with hip-hop legend Jermaine Dupri creating records for both JAY-Z and Janet Jackson before the year of 2008 hit.

2008 would go on to be the year that No I.D slid his way into the new school scene of hip-hop with the movements star point guard and sleeper draft pick, Kanye West. This heavy hearted genuine friendship would lead to collaborations on Kanye West’s double platinum experimental album 808s & Heartbreak, JAY-Z’s platinum The Blueprint 3, and even Drakes platinum debut album Thank Me Later. In addition to co-producing the magic on Kanye’s historic My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, in 2011, No ID would find the hip-hop collaborative Cocaine 80’s headed by James Fauntleroy, Kevin Randolph, and the beloved Jhene Aiko. He would soon launch his own label ARTium through Def Jam Records officially signing Jhene Aiko, Common of course, and rookies Logic & Vince Staples. As he went on to produce Big Sean’s debut album Finally Famous, Jhene’s Souled Out, and Vince Staples’ Summertime ’06, 2017 would be the year of the game breaker.

No ID is like Jason Terry on the 2011 Dallas Mavericks; a star player with veteran wisdom and new school adaptation. His beats are like syrup coming out of a maple tree; smooth and tasteful. As the sole producer on JAY-Z’s most recent album 4:44, released on June 30th, 2017, No I.D’s productive creativity and execution proved nothing other than the fact that due diligence will only make you better as a seasoned component to the game. For 3 decades now, No I.D has been getting better. The real legends of the game, in both sports and music, never relax at any pace; progression provides peace to the soul. The beats on JAY-Z’s 4:44 are iconic in themselves sampling the legendary Nina Simone’s “Four Women”, The Fugees’ “Fu-Gee-La”, and Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s In Need of Some Love Today”. Who would’ve thought that one elevator fight on May 5th, 2014 would result in the best album to date from the 3 participants JAY-Z, Beyonce, and of course Solange.

Some of the most significant moments in his career did not come from making beats for soon to be or already established legends. The most significant moments came from the technicality of becoming the Executive Vice President of A&R at Def Jam Records back in 2011. This was arguably the biggest moment in his career due to the fact that he built up his status as an icon behind and in front of the studio mics.As he pursued his own career, he also became the catalyst for the upcoming classman like Vince Staples & Logic under his sub-label, ARTium Records. No I.D became the face of an idea that anyone, in your class or up your block, can make it to the top of the totem and facilitate the power in a heavily capacitated industry. For him to constantly be engaged in the day to day tasks of a top-tier record label, and still be able to work on 4:44, was amazing.

4:44 made heavy marks in the history of hip-hop for its flawless engineering and brash messages to the new school. In one breath, 4:44 would represent confessional prosperity in it’s purest forms, taking us across the world of cheating, homosexuality, and getting rich in and out of the hood. In just six short days, due to a brand partnership between TIDAL and Sprint, 4:44 was certified platinum by RIAA. Assisted by No I.D, JAY-Z’s 13th platinum album would also go on to break the RIAA record for the most platinum albums by any artist in hip-hop history. JAY-Z came out as the OG of the game and checked the entire industry. When you’ve been in the league for years, you become a coach just as fast as you become a player. When two really seasoned players come together and play for the greater purpose of spreading a message, they create classics. And just like Shaq had a Kobe, Kareem had a Magic, and Tim Duncan had a Tony Parker, JAY-Z had No I.D; the man with the golden ear.

Stream JAY-Z’s 13th studio album 4:44 now via Tidal.  

K. High