While most of rap functions off of building hype out of collaborations and fame, J. Cole is not about that life. He believes his message is his alone, and has kept it that way for a long while, and that hasn't changed. In a genre that tends to glorify a lot of serious things, it's important that it's shown that the genre is more than just a means of living a high life. J. Cole takes a stance against society and drugs in KOD, his new album that digs deeper into his own mind to create something meaningful.
As always, J. Cole isn't concerned with the glamour of fame. There's a very real and visceral nature to his music that makes it much more relatable. He gets very real in songs like 'The Cut Off,' where he raps about cutting those who take advantage of him and hold him back off in order to move ahead. This song "features" his alter ego kiLL edward, who's verses exemplify the opposite of what J. Cole intends to do: take the high road and avoid revenge. kiLL edward is also in 'FRIENDS,' where J. Cole takes a stance against drug addiction and abuse as kiLL edward takes on the perspective of being a victim.
While the yin-yang play is certainly a core aspect of the album, there's a lot more going on that has less intricacy to it. Songs like 'Photograph' see a solely personal view in them, J. Cole rapping about becoming infatuated with someone online, commenting on the nature of social media and modern romance. KOD is a concept album of sorts, looking at all the subjects it explores as a drug, and as the (admittedly odd) 'Intro' states, "Life can bring much pain / There are many ways to deal with this pain / Choose wisely." Several songs take on the idea of money: the huge, energetic, and more self-inclusive 'ATM,' the politically-charged 'BRACKETS,' and the rap-criticizing 'Motiv8' all tackle the effect of money. J. Cole takes on a lot of subjects and shares his own commentary on them, giving KOD a lot more depth beyond an album that looks at drugs.
J. Cole takes a stance against society and drugs in KOD, digging deeper into himself and society to create a discussion on where we all stand today. While most rappers tend to glorify sex, drugs, and money, J. Cole takes a stance against that glorification and, with a yin-yang interchangeability, shows the consequences of the choices we make in a world full of idealized drugs. J. Cole proves once again that rap is more than a platform built for fame, but that it's ability to spark discussion is still alive.
Favorite Tracks: The Cut Off, ATM, Photograph
Least Favorite Track: Intro
Rating: 78 / 100
Stream or buy KOD on Apple Music, and follow our 2018 Playlist on Spotify: