In the day and age where a big roll out is probably needed to sell an album there is a small group of musicians that do not have to rely on heavy marketing to sell their music. All they need is an album title, a date and maybe an album cover. J. Cole happens to be apart of this small group of artist. The release of KOD seemed as if it came out of nowhere especially since there was no hint of an album leading up to its release. But as I stated before J Cole is good at this, for him less is more and it’s evident in the fact that he’s broken streaming records for both Spotify and Apple. I have listened to KOD at least three times on different occasions.
KOD is an easy listen, it doesn’t feel like background noise and I didn’t skip any songs. KOD is an album I can listen to while working, writing, or doing another task without feeling distracted. Although I like KOD and have listened to it more than once after listening I didn’t feel like I learned anything new about J Cole. To be honest before listening to the album I thought it was going to be about inequality, racism, his life as a husband and a father, something along the lines of Jay Z’s 4:44. This could probably contribute to why many people view him as boring but on the other hand we are not entitled to parts of his life. As the artist it is J Cole’s decision to pick and choose, which parts of his life he wants to share via his music.
Creatively KOD is different since it is an album mostly based on political and social commentary. He makes a good use of the song “Brackets” to question where his taxes go, “Window Pain” shares the story of gun violence, and “Kevin Heart” explores the bouts of infidelity. There are certain elements that make up a J Cole album and they include skits, outstanding production, and storytelling about Fayetteville and temptation. What was not expected was J Cole’s alter ego kiLL edward. Instead of having features showcasing other musician’s talents J Cole opts to play with the pitch and sound of his own voice creating this alter ego. As much as I am a fan of alter ego’s I find kiLL edward is rather underwhelming. He doesn’t posses much of difference from J. Cole aside from the difference in their voice.
As much as I appreciate the political and social commentary on the album I also appreciate J. Cole for addressing the state of music especially hip-hop. On “1985” he acknowledges his naysayers as well as these new rappers and also offers them some advice and insight. Almost every other day there is a new overly tattooed rapper who barely has a hit but deems themselves the new face of hip hop that sometimes needs a gentle reminder that all the money, women, drugs, and opportunities can be gone within an instant if they do not play their cards right which may include humbling themselves.
It is hard for me to pick which songs are my favorite since I can listen to the album without skipping but I really enjoy “KOD”, “ATM”, “Motiv8”, “Kevin’s Heart”, “Brackets”, “Window Pain”, and “1985”. As J Cole’s fifth studio album it is evident to hear the growth especially in his subject matters and production. As much as it is to label him as boring, his music is not boring, it is relatable in the sense that everyone can relate to the stories he’s telling and sharing. Also boring should be saved for people who remain in the same box, with each album J Cole slowly proves that he enjoys being outside the box.