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J. Cole’s newest album fails to break away from stereotypes

May 3, 2018

 

“KOD” – Four out of Five Stars

 

ANDREW BELL

Sports Editor | agb022@latech.edu

 

Released April 20, J Cole’s new album “KOD” appeals to loyal fans, but fits into his cryptic, enigmatic stereotype to doubters’ disapproval.

 

Dissing mainstream, modern-day rappers and raising questions about various social and political issues, J Cole is back to his usual antics and has  hip-hop fans divided. Cole’s music is some of the only modern-day rap that splits fans’ opinions between trap music and poetry.

 

The obscurely hidden lyrics and smooth, old school beats in this album bring back a 90s vibe and call for a certain mood and attention to truly be appreciated.

 

There are no features on the album except “kiLL edward,” which is rumored to just be Cole’s alter ego. This is a nice touch, considering Cole is notorious for not having features in his albums, similar to Lil Dicky and his alter ego, Brain.

 

The letters “K.O.D.” have three esoteric meanings, according to Cole’s Twitter account before its release: Kids on Drugs, King Overdosed and Kill Our Demons.

 

All three meanings are somewhat displayed at times throughout the 12-track album.

 

“Kids on Drugs” seems to correlate with his references to drugs and mainly drug abuse on songs like “Once an Addict” and “FRIENDS,”which have drawn satirical comparisons on Twitter to the D.A.R.E. program from elementary school.

 

In “FRIENDS,” he states, “I understand this message is not the coolest to say but if you down to try it I know of a better way. Meditate. (Pre-chorus) Meditate, meditate, meditate, meditate. Don’t medicate.”

 

Although he might be taking slack on Twitter about the unpopularity of his lyrics on drug use, Cole’s effort is admirable to sacrifice some street cred to possibly help guide some young people away from drugs.

 

“King Overdosed” is most likely a reference to the allure of money, as depicted in the art on the album cover and the graphics in his music video of “ATM,” which is an anecdote of a man and woman chasing money while it gets them nowhere.

 

The underlying meaning of “Kill our Demons” is still up for debate, but he does mention in “Window Pain” that he wishes he could “kill the man who made (his) momma cry.” That is the most cryptic of the three possible meanings.

 

Overall, the body of work on the album as a whole is impressive. It is evident there was an inordinate amount of work put into it, as you would expect from Cole. Considering the detailed touches like the subtle guitar on “Photograph” and the interludes of small messages at the beginning and end of various songs like “KOD” when it ends with an ominous woman saying the most powerful drug of all is love.

 

This type of work is what people have come to expect from Cole as he sets the bar higher throughout his career. This album probably would rate closer to “For Your Eyes Only” in 2016 than “Forest Hills Drive” in 2014, which is his masterpiece.

 

The one thing missing from “KOD” is the one unanimous hit that catches everyone’s eye. The songs are solid and play well off of each other, but the lack of hierarchy in his tracks keeps “KOD” from a 5/5 star rating.

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