With KOD, J. Cole serves as the conscience of hip-hop
J Cole's new album, KOD is an exploration of drugs and addiction, but saying that is everything to the album is wrong.
It takes a different kind of breed to score a platinum album without a feature and this Mr Cole has been able to achieve not once, but twice.
And on his fifth studio album, despite the presence of a certain Kill Edward on the track list, not to be confused with Kill Grave from the Jessica Jones series, many remain unconvinced as to the identity of the feature on the project, with fans claiming that J Cole is the same person as Edward.
J Cole scoring platinum records without a feature is not an artist detached from the world of needing collaborations considering, he has previously worked with others on his earlier projects, but it is perhaps the rapper finding a range to his creativity.
The linear result of this may not earn him the mass appeal accorded the likes of Drake or the range and dexterity tagged with Kendrick Lamar, but Mr Cole is playing by his own rules and so far, the numbers are counting in his favour.
Released on Friday, April 20th, the title track of the album, 'KOD', has broken the U.S Spotify record for the biggest opening day streams with 4.2 million, surpassing the previous holder 'Look what you made me do' by Taylor Swift.
The album also featured 12 tracks on Spotify Top 13 in US streams in its first day of release.
Structurally, KOD covers several layers across 12 tracks running over 42 minutes, touching on addiction, government manipulations and self-righteous raps.
Cole speaks on his experiences firsthand and casts a spotlight on the realities of drug addicts and its lasting impact on young kids and the society.
'1985 (Intro to the fall off)', 'Bracket' and 'Once an addict' are some of the brightest spots on the album.
The former sees Cole shooting a gun blindfolded, "I heard one of em' diss me, I'm surprised, I ain't tripping, listen good to my reply, come here Lil' man, let me talk with ya, see if I can paint for you the large picture, congrats 'cause you made it out your mama's house, I hope you make enough to buy your mom a house".
Even though rappers like XXXTentacion,Lil Pump, Lil Yacthy and Lil Uzi Vert have been attached as owners of his fired shots, Cole breathes acidic lyrics in a way that suggests he stays ready to go to war.
On 'Brackets', he comes for the system, taxes and the pace of democracy, ''where do my dollars go, you see lately, I ain't been convinced, I guess they say my dollar supposed to build roads and schools, but my niggas barely graduate, they ain't got tools''
'Once an addict' is another that is surrounded by his height of imagination and storytelling.
On tracks like Friends and ATM (backed by a colourful and well-themed video), Cole plays the conscious gatekeeper as he calls out how depression and drug addiction don't blend, and also colours the vanity of chasing money consummately, which ends up in a big mighty hole.
Joints like Window Pain, KOD and Photograph, while not hitting the wow levels are in no way mere album fillers.
With KOD, Mr. Cole has been able to kick an anti-drug campaign, offer insight into pain while setting himself apart from new age mumble rappers.
KOD may not have delivered a classic, but it wraps itself in the tailoring of a well-conceived project that shows maturity and an artist owning his own narrative while revealing his emotional side yet again.
1-Dull2-Boring2.5-Average3-Worth Checking Out3.5-Hot4-Smoking Hot4.5-Amazing5-Perfection
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