By Tamiyha Carter
Last Friday, J. Cole dropped a new album, KOD. He tweeted, “KOD. Three meanings. Kids on drugs, king overdosed and kill our demons.” Cole explained that the album is not meant to glorify addiction, and it’s even written on the album cover. It’s merely to spread awareness of addiction and to get listeners to choose wisely.
The song after the intro titled “KOD” is a great way to give us a feel for what the album will be like. The chorus talks about drugs and cars, which is a stereotype associated with rappers. In the song, Cole responds to people who ask him why he doesn’t have feature rappers on his albums by saying they’re not worthy enough to be on his tracks. The song ends with a list of what people can be addicted to such as power, fame, drugs and the strongest drug of all, love.
The next song “Photograph” refers to dating in the digital age. The song talks about falling in love through a photograph and wondering if the person would even follow him back on the social medium. Some listeners said the song reminded them of a flow that Ski Mask the Slump God uses in his songs sometimes. The refrain in the song does remind me of “Babywipe” by Ski Mask; however, Cole added his own switch up to it.
Another song on the album titled, “ATM” has a nice message at the beginning relating to the theme of the album. Cole wrote, “Life can bring much pain. There are many ways to deal with this pain. Choose wisely.” It’s a nice reminder that there are other options you can turn to when times get hard. This song talks about how people let money control their lives. He raps, “can’t take it when you die, but you can’t live without it.” The video to the song is also a deeper depiction of how money can take over your life. ATM is a song with a faster beat and something catchy that anyone can bop to.
“ATM’s” rhythm flows perfectly into the next song, “Motiv8.” One of my personal favorites and another catchy tune. This is a song that I listen to when I need to get to class on time, and I’m running late. The beat makes me put some pep in my step. The refrain gives me thoughts of someone who is addicted to pills and takes them to feel alive, which touches on the aspect of raising awareness for addiction. The only complaint I have about this song would be that I wish it was longer.
“Kevin’s Heart” is a song about someone who is in love with their significant other but still has thoughts of stepping out on the relationship. He explains that drugs and prescription pills are used to suppress the pain and temptation. The video actually has comedian Kevin Hart as the star, and the song correlates to Hart’s past before he had his son. Hart also relates to Cole because they both recently has children, and are in the video tussling with strollers in two aisles next to each other. The meaning behind the song added something light and nice to the album.
A song that everyone who pays taxes should listen to because it will force you to as real questions about our society is “BRACKETS.” Cole raps about paying so many taxes and he wonders where his money goes. He believes it goes to road and schools, but children in his state barely graduate because they are not equipped with the tools. Instead, the money is used to hire teachers who don’t look like the students he or she teaches. He also talk about not having a say in where your tax money goes if this country is supposed to be considered a democracy. This song makes me question things I’ve learned in school and how much tax money comes out of my paycheck.
The last song on the album is titled, “1985.” This song is a response for a new rapper called Lil Pump. Pump made a diss song for Cole, and Cole has some wise words for Pump. Instead of dissing him and bringing him down, he says, “and plus, you’re having fun, and I respect that. But have you ever thought about your impact?” Cole expressed that he is not impressed by what the newest rappers in the game rap about, but he loves to see them get paid. He also responded and advised Lil Pump and younger rappers to use their money wisely because it won’t last forever. A time will come when the money stops flowing, and you bought many cars but never bought a house and now you have nothing.
KOD is an album with a great message and can have a great impact on listeners. It was definitely a wise idea and great topic to form the album around. Using a major issue and using music to make listeners aware of real life issues. Advising people to choose wisely and not meditate instead of medicating. KOD holds the title for Spotify’s most first-day albums streams with over 36.6 million. This album might be the best album of the year, and it’s only April.
Email Tamiyha Carter at opinons@cardinalpointsonline.
By Fernando Alba
“KOD” is a disappointing unfocused clutter that I’m thankful was only 12 tracks instead of the 20-plus projects trap artists, who Cole tries really hard to emulate, drops. The album’s opening track has listeners sit through a narrator warn about how “life can bring much pain,” and how “there are many ways to deal with this pain”, so you better “choose wisely.”
Is this what J. Cole has become? I guess 33 is ancient in rap years, but I didn’t imagine hearing J. Cole become some old head lecturing the youngsters on how to behave so soon. But I guess we should’ve seen it coming the moment we saw him use a Canon 310xl in that “4 Your Eyez Only” documentary (that thing used film, what a hipster.)
The album’s message is nice and timely and all, especially with Lil Peep’s fairly recent passing from overdosing on Xanax and fentanyl, and in all honesty, an album like this had to be made eventually.
An album highlighting the prevalence of self medication and how up-and-comers in rap freely endorse it in their music is something I can get behind.
But instead what you listen to, at times, is an unfocused Cole who doesn’t really deliver a message clearly enough.
Take the title track for an a example. An album Cole has defined as “Kids On Drugs,” you probably expect him to tackle that whole drug thing in the title track, instead, Cole dedicates it to stroking his overinflated ego and trudging up old narratives about how he has no features on his albums with lines like, “How ‘bout you just get the f- off my d-? How ‘bout you listen and never forget? Only gon’ say this one time, then I’ll dip. N-s ain’t worthy to be on my s-.”
Which is cool and all, that’s actually a part of one of my favorite verses on the entire album, besides there’s plenty of room in rap for that kind of chest-pounding, so long as the artist is able to leave the studio and actually acknowledge his shortcomings.
Except Cole doesn’t. He probably thinks he’s the best there is and he just simply isn’t.
Unfortunately, Cole’s bloated sense of confidence has robbed listeners of great collaborations through features. In fact, he hasn’t had any features on a studio album since 2013’s Born Sinner.
The rest of the tracklist is pretty forgettable with a couple exceptions like “Kevin’s Heart.”
Some real low points include “Motiv8, which features Cole saying “motivate” like 200 times. Neat.
The album ends with what is presumably the first song of his next album, which is titled “1985 (Intro to the ‘Fall Off’) .“
Will I listen to it the minute it drops? Yeah.
Will I be disappointed again? Probably.
Email Fernando Alba at firstname.lastname@example.org