New SOTBMusic: @JColeNC Drops An Interesting Album in KOD

Now, you all know that I rock with J. Cole. I’ve been a fan of the man since he was rapping on the “I Really Mean It” beat. I stuck with him through some of his cornier punchlines (ex.: “I let you feel like you the [ish], but boy you can’t out-fart me”), cornier songs and awkward “dog love” videos. However, I know that he’s human and has the capability to something that isn’t really all that excellent.

With that said, KOD is an album that, in my fan-centric opinion, is kind of off to an extent–even though the cover art is brilliant
It’s definitely not a traditional Cole album, and that’s good (again, in some ways). He exorcises some of the chants about people calling him boring by rapping about the government using a Soundcloud rapper flow. Like with 4 Your Eyez Only, there are some experimental moments. Heck, there are moments on KOD where you’ll stand up and say “Go ‘head Jermaine with your bad self. Give them all the business.”

Songs like “1985,” “BRACKETS,” and the outro of the album are dope and showcase what we’ve come to need from Cole. The thing is that there are also moments that left me scratching my head. With some of the tracks and moments on the album, I felt that Cole went the DROGAS Light route. However, he kind of left out some of the fun of Lupe’s “turn-up” album.

However, after hearing this album several times, I’ve come to a conclusion. You’re going to be in one of three camps after hearing this. One, you’re going to love because Cole’s calling out the government and the state of hip-hop while still embracing tropes of the “new era.” Two, you’re going to kinda consider it to be a “meh” effort from an artist that we’ve grown to expect a lot from. Or, like me, you could be in the middle. It’s an album that has a few bops on it, and the message is great. The execution, however, is where I fall off the bus a bit. It’s like he tried to do a more-serious DROGAS Light at points. Songs like “KOD” show this awkward transition to a conscious turn-up track and it doesn’t fully work. 
As I said, I love J. Cole’s music. Whenever his stuff drops, I’m listening to it several times, just to get everything, even if it isn’t all that great. But, I’m no Stan for the man. I think that this is a decent effort from him. However, I’d be hard-pressed to say it’s better than anything else he’s put out, even going back to his mixtapes. I’m all for artistic evolution, but I’m unsure if this is the right step after something like 4 Your Eyez Only (which I didn’t fully review and possibly never will).

Is KOD worthy of the SOTB stamp of approval? That’s what you’re probably asking after my “eh, it’s dope at some points” discussion on the album. Truth be told, even though it’s only dope at some points, it’s still a decent effort from Cole. I like that he tried something different–even if it didn’t pan out completely (to me). Check it out for yourselves and remember to support dope music in all its forms.

Speed on the Beat

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