Leon Aristeguieta- Staff Writer
On his fifth studio album, “KOD,” J. Cole addresses a variety of topics, some of which he has talked about in the past as well as exploring some new themes for the rapper.
Although at some points Cole might sound too much like he is preaching, the majority of the record is cohesive and well put together. Never one to shy away from activism and deep subjects, J. Cole decided to tackle the issue of drug addiction, depression and relationships on this new record.
Drugs and addictions are the main focus of the album and relates to one of the meanings of the title, “Kids on Drugs.” On songs like “FRIENDS” and “Once an Addict – Interlude,” Cole shines through talking about the perils of addiction.
Cole’s personal, heartfelt story about his mother’s alcoholism shines through as one of the brightest spots on the album. The last track, “1985,” also relates back to the “Kids on Drugs” theme as Cole talks about younger rappers whose image and popularity is largely based on their drug use.
Although this track has created some controversy, especially among the aforementioned younger generation, J. Cole is not trying to ridicule them; instead he is giving them useful advice. He raps about how he relates with them because they are young and do not know any better, but since they have so much money they should be careful and make their wealth last.
On songs like “BRACKETS” and “ATM,” Cole talks about his financial matters and mixes this with some activism, especially on “BRACKETS.” The second verse on the song is where Cole is at his most political and preachy. Although I understand the message of the verse being about how minority communities are taxed but never see the benefits of those taxes, Cole comes across as idealistic and naïve, which has been a tendency through all of his albums.
“Kevin’s Heart” is one of the more interesting songs on the album. Playing on comedian Kevin Hart’s name as well as referencing his admitted infidelities, the song addresses both drug use and cheating on a loved one.
Here fans can see the second meaning of the album’s title, “Kill our Demons” in display. Rapping about being fake and not being able to see himself in the mirror, he describes himself as an imperfect person who has been untrue to his own personal values. The song itself is a way to kill the demons that could be haunting Cole.
The production on the album borders on trap production although it feels more soulful, probably due to the jazz samples that are incorporated. On a couple of songs, the beats change up to become throwbacks, albeit with modern stylings, to older conscious rap that Cole is clearly influenced by.
Ultimately, Cole supplied a solid album. He shines through by delivering entertaining songs with a conscious message. There are parts that could have been improved upon, most notably the songs “Photograph” and “Motiv8,” which could sound like filler tracks.
However, apart from those two songs, one would say that the record is good and would be recommended to anyone who is a fan of hip-hop.