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Meaning of the song ‘151 Rum’ by ‘JID’

Released: 2018

“151 Rum” by JID is a chilling vignette of his violent, poverty-stricken upbringing in East Atlanta. The song’s high-energy, urgent delivery symbolizes the life-or-death stakes of his environment, while its cryptic, vivid lyricism unveils a narrative of survival, loss, governmental neglect, and retributive justice.

The song opens with a frantic call to “Run, Ricky, run,” a possible reference to the classic film “Boyz n the Hood,” where Ricky, a promising athlete, is gunned down in his neighborhood. The repetition of words like “run,” “jump,” and “gun” creates a sense of urgency, reflecting the constant fear and violence in JID’s environment.

“151 Rum and a blunt, young nigga numb, numb, numb” speaks to the self-medication and desensitization many succumb to in harsh realities. The numbness is a defense mechanism against the brutal realities of street life.

In the line, “Taking cheese from the government/Cereal boxes with the bugs in it,” JID criticizes the lack of sufficient aid from the government in supporting low-income communities, symbolized by the ‘bug-infested’ cereal boxes, signifying the poor quality of welfare provisions.

When JID says, “Standing next to Lil Tay when that bullet hit him,” he’s reminiscing on the trauma of witnessing a friend’s death. His despair is evident in the lines that follow, expressing his wish that the bullet had missed. The tragic loss of life becomes a continually lived experience for Jid, it’s a ‘sickness’ he lives with.

“Look alive, look in my eyes, look at you niggas trying/And you dumb, dumb better run, run ’cause we frying ’em” Here, JID’s issuing a warning to rivals, reminding them of the brutality that awaits them if they oppose him. It paints a picture of the East Atlanta neighborhoods’ harsh realities where violence is a form of communication.

Lastly, “I got love for you out the mud with you, off the muscle” JID emphasizes his loyalty to those who’ve shared his struggle and who’ve been with him through thick and thin. Shared hardship creates a bond that JID won’t break.

JID’s “151 Rum” is an honest and raw portrayal of his upbringing, using clever wordplay and visceral imagery to bring listeners into his world. It’s a testament to his survival and rise from that environment to the heights of the hip-hop world, while never forgetting his origins.

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